Plenty of resources are available to help you move your business as a Canadian fashion entrepreneur forward. Making use of the tools and support available to you can help you grow your company, better market your brand, and make a name for yourself in the fashion world.
The Toronto Fashion Incubator
The Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) is a highly-praised nonprofit organization designed to support Canadian fashion entrepreneurs and designers like you. Established in 1987, the TFI is the first fashion business incubator of its kind. Its primary function is to promote homegrown Canadian fashion entrepreneurs and the fashion community as a whole. The TFI provides the tools, education, and space to help you move your fledgling company forward. This incubator operates in an 8,000 square foot building, offering programs and services geared towards mentoring you and your company in the various aspects needed to survive your early months and years, and to thrive long into the future.
At the TFI, you can find one-on-one mentoring, seminars, and master classes in business practices and manufacturing. Also available are opportunities for marketing and brand development, in-house studios and shared space to work on products, and much-desired business leads and networking connections.
The TFI is broken into two primary segments: outreach and resident. Anyone can sign on for the outreach program, which is aimed at people who are interested in starting a fashion business but don’t know how. You have access to all of the features mentioned above while being supported and nurtured by the experts and other businesses that surround you. When you’re ready for the next step – getting your fashion business on its feet and operational – you can move to the resident class. All of the same benefits apply, as well as additional support and structure to give your company strong legs to stand on. The resident program is particularly beneficial for new companies because it offers 24/7 studios and workspace, with professional sewing and manufacturing equipment provided if you need it.
Money is often in short supply when you’re trying to start a new fashion business. Luevo is the perfect platform to use to help your startup create fundraising and crowdsourcing campaigns, bring in substantial donor dollars, and propel your company forward. Luevo’s primary vision is to find and launch independent fashion entrepreneurs, giving their newly-formed companies and brands a fighting chance in a competitive market. To this end, Luevo helps entrepreneurs like you to obtain pre-production orders from consumers who discover your company through the site. Luevo has an advanced team of marketing and business specialists to help you create a campaign that will show off your brand and make it easily accessible and much desired. You have the option of marketing individual garments or items – such as bags or jewelry pieces – with individual campaigns, or you can choose to market multiple items as a cohesive campaign.
The upsell for consumers is that Luevo guarantees them first dibs on high-quality, designer fashion pieces before they are available for mass consumption. You’re obligated to fulfill a minimum order requirement, depending on what the consumer wants and agrees to pay for. If you’re unable to fulfill the order, the consumer is not charged, and you’re not penalized other than by the loss of revenue.
The upside to this process for your company is that you’re guaranteed an income for the products you produce. This site is best suited to your company if you have some starting capital and the means to produce moderately-sized orders. The income you generate at the completion of these orders helps you take on larger orders, fueling expansion and ultimately profits.
Project Her Inc.
Project Her Inc. is truly unique because it is the first rewards-based crowdfunding service in Canada that specifically targets and assists women-owned and women-led businesses. While this platform is not tailored strictly to fashion-focused entrepreneurs, it is designed to help female business owners and entrepreneurs to tackle and overcome the unique challenges they face in a male-dominated business landscape.
Shelly-Lynn Nellis, co-founder of Project Her, notes that one of these hurdles is the feeling or belief that in order to prove their worth, women-run companies often seek to finance every aspect of their business without any meaningful assistance. Project Her targets this issue, helping female-led businesses find the funding and other resources they need to get their companies up and running. Project Her also offers a number of other helpful tools, including networking connections, and copyrighting and marketing services. Project Her prides itself on the helpful and supportive community of women entrepreneurs who band together to support one another from the common ground they share.
The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation
The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation, modeled after one of Canada’s top-ranked university incubators, was created with the primary mission of accelerating fashion-related startups in Canada. The centre, established in 2015, is dedicated to launching the next generation of fashion-focused entrepreneurs. It takes a unique, full-circle approach to mentorship, offering entrepreneurs like you a well-rounded education in all aspects of starting and maintaining a fashion startup, regardless of your particular niche.
Fashion and business leaders from across Canada hand pick entrepreneurs to attend the centre for an 18-month program designed to meet you wherever you’re at in terms of starting and running your business, as well as to propel you onward and upward. While at the centre, you have access to one-on-one and class-based mentoring; networking connections; the latest in design, marketing, manufacturing, and distribution technology; and the opportunity to get your hands on a portion of the $50,000 startup funding pool open to all attendees who complete the program.
Getting your own fashion-focused company up and running is no easy feat. Make use of the resources around you. These tools will give your company the scaffold it needs to grow and thrive.