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Boston is putting itself on the map as fashion-meets-tech innovation hub. From Kendall to Fort Point Channel, here are the start ups that caught our attention.
The work of Emily Sawich, an example of a 19th Amendment designer
Parsons grad Amanda Curtis encountered major hurdles when she set out to launch a clothing line with a sizable sum granted in what she calls a "Cinderella story." The realization that her design background lacked practical training in how to actually produce a collection didn't defeat her—rather, she embarked on a mission to build a platform for other designers in the same position. From there, 19th Amendment was born with co-founder Gemma Sole, which currently is running an Indiegogo campaign to progress from pre-beta to the highly anticipated beta launch later this month.
Noting that there are more design schools in Massachusetts than in New York, Curtis felt it was important to root her concept in Boston's tech scene. While Boston has a smaller fashion community, its edge over New York lies in innovation. And innovate is exactly what 19th Amendment is doing. Essentially, 19th Amendment highlights a portfolio of area designers, asking viewers to crowd-fund their favorite designs, subsequently turning them into built-in customers. In return, the team handles some operational elements of producing a collection (marketing, manufacturing relations), minimizing the substantial risk involved in launching a line, which can take four or five seasons to raise investment and actually turn a profit.
The platform's designer roster is a mix of students, new grads, and seasoned designers looking for new exposure. These creative entrepreneurs often butt heads with US manufacturers, as they can only afford to order small runs of their merchandise and manufacturers require constant, large orders. 19th Amendment steps in and negotiates on behalf of a cluster of designers, thus handling the business part of building a line and ensuring the domestic manufacturers receive a steady stream of jobs.
At this point, the push toward American-made goods is crystal clear—though the prospect of doing so for large retailers, like Zappos, is not quite plausible yet. The small manufacturers stateside need to grow into medium-sized ones, a task that 19th Amendment is excitedly taking on so that they can eventually take on gigantic orders from the retail giants. If this way of building an economy seems familiar, it's because fellow Massachusetts-based retailer The Grommet is doing something similar, making them an appropriate advisor to Curtis and her crew. They both revolve around e-commerce that tells a story.
Whether you believe in supporting small designers, harboring the concept of domestic production, or both, the 19th Amendment Indiegogo campaign should grab the attention of your pocketbook. Eighteen days remain to reach their $19,000 goal, and the new site will launch shortly thereafter.
· 19th Amendment [Official Site]
· 19th Amendment [Indiegogo]
· The Grommet CEO Discusses Makers and Somerville [Racked Boston]