There’s no official guidebook for a young fashion designer looking to grow a part-time creative pursuit into a full-fledged business. But Kara Chomistek, Jessie Li and the team behind PARK (Promoting Artists Redefining Kulture) are helping budding entrepreneurs across Alberta do just that.
PARK’s Artist and Designer Forum, to be held Feb. 20 and 21, is an extension of the Calgary-based not-for-profit’s fashion-related ventures, from elaborate designer showcases to local fashion pop-up shops. The forum was developed as a way to connect emerging and established artists and designers with fashion-industry professionals. The designers can find information on the often-overlooked parts of independent fashion.
“We are teaching people everything from how to build your brand, how to pitch to media, how to work on developing your cash flow, and how to apply for grants,” says Chomistek. “We see a lot of creatives go under in their first five years of business. This is that launching point for people to learn from other designers and artists who are already working in the industry.”
The forum, which will be held at Startup Edmonton, features a number of speakers that range in expertise. Representatives of McRally Accounting will provide information on small-business finance and bookkeeping; while Emily Deveaux, from the University of Alberta’s School of Retailing, will instruct up-and-coming artists on how to maximize their exposure to consumers. photo supplied
Other fashion entrepreneurs, including Edmonton’s own Alyssa Lau – owner and creator of the online retailer Shop New Classics – will be on hand to provide attendees with tips and tricks for starting their own labels and creating relationships with apparel wholesalers both at home and overseas.
For more established brands looking to get their designs into major retail stores, PARK has secured a representative from Canadian department store Simons as the event’s keynote speaker. “This year, we are looking at the checklist and the kind of things you need to know before you go to sell to a wholesaler like Simons or a major department store,” says Li.
As more artists in Edmonton take the leap into business, Li and Chomistek hope that events like the forum will help create new leaders in Alberta’s fashion industry. “We wanted to create some positive examples and share some success stories of the people who have made it, and show the different strategies and business models that they have used to get there,” says Chomistek. “The forum has been a way for people to build a community and build a following around them, and then be able to scale up after they’ve set their roots in the city.”