Updated: Oct 25, 2021
How do you get your ideas from the sketchbook to the runway? For independent designers, the question can be daunting. However, these five organizations, grants, scholarships, events, and workshops are here to help independent designers make their visions a reality.
1. Small Boutique Fashion Week
Consider attending Small Boutique Fashion Week, which is an opportunity for small designers to both make profit and get exposure by selling their items to boutiques. As a designer on tour with SBFW, you can showcase your items in its online store or in one of its fashion shows. As its website advertises, “Designers who participate in Small Boutique Fashion Week will receive up to 30 + amenities including a complete list of sample makers & factories, casted models, and the chance to profit from ticket sales.” The networking that this event allows designers to do is incredible. You get to meet not only with people interested in buying your clothes but with other designers, models, and make-up artists who you can collaborate with later on in your career.
2. CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund
In its own words, “The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was established in 2003 to help emerging American design talent find continued success in the business of fashion.” The award for the ten recipients of this fund is paid in both money and mentorship. The fund’s mentors include Julie Gilhart, Stephanie Horton, Sherri McMullen, and many other notable names in the fashion industry. Winning this scholarship would pave the way to success in the fashion world.
3. Fashion Scholarship Fund
Fashion Scholarship Fund is an “education and workforce development nonprofit,” as stated on their website. In other words, it is both a scholarship and an organization of fashion scholars. Its main scholarship is the FSF Case Study Scholarship, which awards its winners educational funds, job opportunities, and an invite to the annual FSF Awards Gala. Educational funding is far from the only resource they offer their scholars, however. FSF regularly provides opportunities to break into the workforce, including mentorships, internships, and job opportunities. It also hosts events such as presentations by notable people within the fashion industry and masterclasses in both fashion and business. As a scholar, you can network with other FSF alumni scattered across the fashion world. As an independent designer, The Fashion Scholarship Fund will give you the skills and networks you need to get to where you want to be.
4. The TL Effect
The TL Effect is a three-month program organized by Third Love that focuses on giving its participants firstly the ultimate marketing campaign that includes professional photo shoots, social media campaigns, and marketing classes, and secondly a $20,000 grant to put towards their brands. Though Third Love is a women’s apparel brand, this program welcomes all female-identifying entrepreneurs to apply for their program regardless of whatever their business is. However, given that Third Love is a fashion brand itself, their mentorship program would be particularly helpful to emerging independent female designers. As an independent designer, it can be difficult to get exposure. However, the TL Effect will skyrocket your brand awareness and leave you with a whole new set of creative and business skills to keep your brand thriving even after the program has ended.
5. Sew Awesome
This tool for designers is different from the other entries on this list in the sense that you don't need to apply for anything - all you need to do is hit "install." Sew Awesome is an app that lets you carry all the tools you would need - fabric samples, a sewing machine, templates, etc. - in your pocket. The mind of an independent designer is always conjuring their next piece, and having easy access to a digital workspace makes executing those ideas all the easier.