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Christopher Plant sits down with Elissa Bloom to discuss local sourcing, maintaining creativity while running a business, and the effects of the pandemic on the fashion industry.
Elissa is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City. You can learn more about her at her companies website philadelphiafashionincubator.com.
Educating the Consumer with Elissa Bloom
Christopher Plant: [00:00:00] Welcome RADIOKISMET LIVE with Christopher Plant. RADIOKISMET LIVE is a partnership with Kismet Co-Work and is located in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
Here we are live at RADIOKISMET. This is Christopher Plant. We are here in our social distance studio located at four, four eight North 10th street today with Elissa Bloom. How are you?
Elissa Bloom: [00:00:23] I am great Christopher. Okay. So glad we made this happen. We’ve talked about this for a couple of years now. Here we
Christopher Plant: [00:00:31] Yeah, I know.
And it’s good that we get to do this and have a record. Absolutely. Yeah. And so we’re here mostly today to talk about your career and especially the Philadelphia fashion incubator.
Elissa Bloom: [00:00:43] I’m really happy to share.
Christopher Plant: [00:00:50] your, it’s your ten year
Elissa Bloom: [00:00:52] anniversary celebrating 10 years in existence. Yeah. So just to give some background, the Philadelphia fashion incubator. Is a nonprofit that supports emerging designers in Philadelphia. We help fashion entrepreneurs grow scale and expand their companies.
And with the hopes that they’re also going to retain their businesses here in the region. And we launched in 2012 with our first residency of four designers. And the whole idea really came from the need that we saw in the community and Philly being home to three incredible fashion schools from Drexel.
To Jefferson formerly Philly, U and Moore college of art and design. And we also have university of Delaware that has a great fashion program. University of the arts has some great
Christopher Plant: [00:01:44] jewlery. We’re packed here with universities and schools.
Elissa Bloom: [00:01:47] Very lucky. So with all this great talent, and that was graduating from the local schools, we wanted to find a way to support alumni that wanted to stay in Philly and start companies.
And that was really our initial. Mission. Because we saw that there were no resources or incentives for emerging designers here in Philadelphia, 10 years ago. So when we launched, we had our founding sponsors, it was really creative, collaborative effort between the city. We have the city of Philadelphia center city district, along with our corporate sponsor Macy’s who has been very generous giving us about 800 square feet of space.
The third floor of the historic Wanamaker building was a great location. It’s perfect, centrally located and inspiring for our designers to be in and out of this beautiful building. But yeah, we have a full design studio and workspace. We just renovated in 2019. And then we have the schools. So right now we currently have Drexel as our academic sponsor, but it was really this creative collaborative effort to come together with our mission, which was really to help rebuild and reinvigorate the once thriving fashion sector here in Philadelphia,
Christopher Plant: [00:03:00] because we used to be a big place.
We were producing a lot of stuff
Elissa Bloom: [00:03:04] from men’s wear children’s wear hats. Textiles. And it’s been exciting to see the past 10 years, what has been coming out of Philly. Like I’m really proud, not only of the work and the designers that have come out of our program, but just overall Philly is getting on the fashion map.
Christopher Plant: [00:03:24] That’s good. We’re here at 448 North 10th street and made Institute, which I think that you have in association with
Elissa Bloom: [00:03:31] Rachel Ford has been on our selection committee. And also our advisory committee from the get-go Kevin Parker and Carrie Scott, who were founders of Philly fashion week. And we just launched through Kevin and Carrie, a new task force called the Philadelphia fashion and garment industry task force through the city of Philadelphia.
Christopher Plant: [00:03:51] Wow.
Sounds so serious. So immediate.
Elissa Bloom: [00:03:55] Yeah. It’s been a need for a while, so we’re really coming together. 12 of us that’s on this task force and really focused on supporting designers and retailers in the community through help with manufacturing through promotion, through sales and really just spotlighting all the great talent that is right here in our own backyard.
Christopher Plant: [00:04:18] Yeah, I’m familiar a little bit with this. I was a board member for cultural works of greater Philadelphia for many years. And Thaddeus Squire, who was the executive director. There was very interested in. Helping with this idea of production here in town. And I remember speaking with Craig at Commonwealth proper, and I think it’s Brian over at United, by blue.
I’m friends with Bella shoe from Nino brand who actually is now a tenant over in our Manayunk location. And so I’ve been very familiar with this and then just tangential knowing about you and what you’re doing, and you guys are fantastic with your mailers. And so I felt like I was very up to date with what you’re doing and happy that you were in Macy’s so that your students could walk through these, walk see what they, what their future might be if they were able to put it together.
But What w what did you a little bit about you? What did you do before you came to the Philadelphia fashion incubator?
Elissa Bloom: [00:05:10] So I am an original Bostonian and not a Philadelphian.
Christopher Plant: [00:05:17] I did. I did. I did have your Boston time. Yeah.
Elissa Bloom: [00:05:19] And yeah, so I moved to Philly 12 years ago. Came. Via Manhattan. And I had been working corporately at Bloomingdale’s and home product development.
And I had a portfolio of designs that I wanted to take and actually make into a business. So I went to the national stationery show. Very long time ago and showed yeah, a line of cards. And along with these cards, I had a line of B2 placemats through a manufacturing contact that I made through Bloomingdale’s and everyone went Gaga over these beaded placemats cause they had these girl faces.
And everyone said, these are too cute to be in a placement. They need to be in a bag. So I ended up knowing nothing about the accessories industry. Launching an accessories brand at Elissa Bloom, New York in 2002, EBNY. And I had that business for over eight years. I was designing a collection of cosmetic bags, totes coin purses, clutches manufacturing in Asia, and then importing and wholesaling and was selling through trade shows and sales reps.
I sold to department stores. Such as Nordstrom and Bendel’s also sold through Avon with the license that I had for two years for the launch of their Mark online catalog. So from this whole experience and working 14 hours a day, yeah. 11 trips to Asia, and there weren’t really any fashion incubators that wasn’t really existed back then.
But when I moved to Philadelphia and ended up teaching. Fashion entrepreneurship at Drexel and at Moore college. And at the time I was asked to be a judge at Philly, Philadelphia fashion week. And I connected with Karen Randall who worked at the commerce department at the time. Yeah, Karen and she had told me that there was this new fashion incubator initiative.
They were looking to launch. And that’s how I got to the Philadelphia fashion incubator as their executive director.
Christopher Plant: [00:07:27] That’s cool. And so it was an initiative through the city and I, which is great that, you know, and Karen was with commerce department and there were a lot of very interesting people there who are pretty progressive and, that’s not necessarily part of the Philadelphia brands.
But I’m glad that was able to come through. And so you jumped in and you started doing it. You said your first class was four people.
Elissa Bloom: [00:07:51] Yeah. So in 2012, we’d launched, it’s a one-year residency that starts every March. And it’s like an MBA program. We don’t teach design. It’s all about the business of fashion.
So we work
Christopher Plant: [00:08:04] with companies, probably not something that, that comes supernatural to the people who are wicked into fashion.
Elissa Bloom: [00:08:09] Absolutely. And a lot of the designers that have graduated from the local fashion schools, they have incredible talent, but they didn’t know about. The business side. So we were really able to provide them with education and resources.
We have a very dynamic program. Not only with our webinars last year, we had 75 webinars from March to December. And along with the education, we also provide each designer with an industry mentor that they meet with monthly to further help them develop their personal and professional
Christopher Plant: [00:08:45] skills. So it’s like a gigantic kind of wrap around project,
Elissa Bloom: [00:08:49] an incredible entrepreneur in residence or a Boyd who’s with entrepreneur works.
He meets with the designers monthly to help them with their individual business goals and deliverables. We also have A weekly entrepreneur series where I bring in various entrepreneurs. We actually had Brian LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. He’s a great guy. Yeah. And we’ve had Bella Cortez. Yeah.
And that’s been great, but it’s really about also exposure. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do a lot of events, but we’re usually very. Active in the community. Through various fashion shows, trunk shows pop-ups and we’ve partnered with other organizations such as the Alzheimer’s association and Methodist hospital foundation and career wardrobe on their annual fashion show fundraisers.
And it’s been great. Just being able to come together. As a community as a city and really highlight some of the incredible talent that is in our incubator, in our city right now.
Christopher Plant: [00:09:51] And so what where are you finding your students? I know that, I think that I personally, about my move to Philly project and I’m always very interested to.
From a business context to reach out to people, to alert them to the realities of doing business here in terms of affordability and the ease and how many people are here that are looking for meaningful work. And so where are you finding your students?
Elissa Bloom: [00:10:16] So are. I call them designer.
Even though they are students, cause students, people think of attorney but just, our program has really evolved a lot. We had a lot of designers that came from the local schools, but now we’re getting, many of our designers are in their second, third careers. Their average age is 35 to 55.
We currently have five designers in our program and four of them are in their forties. When is a former architect from Manhattan, but it’s
Christopher Plant: [00:10:49] it pretty serious. Yeah.
Elissa Bloom: [00:10:50] So it’s been exciting to be able to work with designers that don’t have. The traditional fashion design background, but they are extremely focused and you said, and committed and have that vision of where they want to go with their businesses.
But then we have this incredible designer, Melissa Breiner, who just graduated from Drexel has been with us this past year. Who’s launching a men’s shoe brand called ABriner, and
Christopher Plant: [00:11:16] she’s going to be at. A victim slash customer that I love men’s
Elissa Bloom: [00:11:20] shoes. And they’re all custom hand painted. She has a patent already on a solvent that she created to paint on leather.
And so that’s been exciting. And just to let your listeners know, the designers that we do have, it’s really been word of mouth. And just through our alumni referred designers and through our own network and through the local schools, but also that. In order to be in the program, designers already have to have their business up and running six months to three plus years.
So they already have to have product. They have to have a website, they have to have their logo and they have to have some sales and then we’re really there to help them. Take their business to that next level.
Christopher Plant: [00:12:02] Yeah, it sounds interesting. I did the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program, which was and I’ve been in business for more than three years.
But it was so interesting to, I think that. It’s really hard to dig into that, the real meat behind the business. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the beautiful romantic version of doing business. And I’m going to make clothes, I’m going to sell clothes. I’m incredibly passionate about it.
And yet that becomes like such a fraction, every part of the entire, universe of need around starting a business. And you started your own, you learn, I’m going to take a wild guess, a lot of hard lessons the hard way. And and so that is this you have the business mentor.
And so what is your, where does the business knowledge come from? And is it based on a particular system or like, how did you put that together?
Elissa Bloom: [00:12:55] Me personally,
Christopher Plant: [00:12:56] or for the, every, everybody, how did it evolve to like I know that the Goldman Sachs program was based off the Babson university, school of entrepreneurship and what are the focal points?
It’s obviously sourcing and distribution and bookkeeping and designs and how did you guys come to, to develop what your curriculum was? Sorry.
Elissa Bloom: [00:13:15] So the original curriculum really came off of my own experience from okay, what did I need? I needed a mentor I needed to get in front of industry professionals.
We have a monthly when, before the pandemic we do these retail critiques where we, I would take the designers. To New York and also boutiques here in Philadelphia. And we would meet with the owner, decision makers to get in front of, find out what their business models are, merchandising, what brands that they’re carrying.
And then the designers have gotten feedback. And many times this has related to orders for them. They’ve actually gotten sales. Yeah. But the program is very nimble and every year. I’m co-creating the program with the cohort. So it really, depending on what their needs are, and this year has been really exciting because we have focused a lot more.
Many of the designers have needed help with manufactures. So which I’m sure it got
Christopher Plant: [00:14:09] very complicated
Elissa Bloom: [00:14:10] this year. Yeah. One of, one of our designers is manufacturing overseas, but the others are manufacturing locally here in Philadelphia. So just getting their manufacturing set up so that they can do their small scale production.
Many of them are looking to do small batch, very committed to Philadelphia about Maine and Philadelphia making locally. And they have also had a big need and a focus for. Costing and pricing of their goods. Along with sales and marketing, of course and many of them are doing their e-commerce website.
So we’ve had a big focus on digital marketing and selling on Shopify. Yeah.
Christopher Plant: [00:14:51] Technology. Yeah. Is Shopify the primary way that that those. Junior entrepreneurs or would it would be getting that done. The, I knew, I know we had a member at kismet that was a massive Shopify provider.
And I remember, he started with us with three people and in a span of a year expanded to over 21 people just as he began to better understand the platform. And it is so interesting to think about The balance between just working for e-commerce versus, wanting to have a physical presence in a marketplace and and even a sense of home, right?
Like this, like we’re made in Philly, like what is our engagement with Philadelphia? And so is that outreach that you provide, you’re meeting some of the local salons and designers is . You had said that it was one of your primary focuses is to try and keep these people here.
And so how do you do that? How do you inspire them?
Elissa Bloom: [00:15:45] That is part of our application that they have to be committed to staying there. Okay. So some self selecting something. Yeah. That’s why we only take designers from the eight County, even South Jersey region. But it hasn’t been a hard sell, as you were just saying, Christopher Philly is a great place to start a company, the cost of living quality of life.
There’s a lot of great things, access to New York, which I love. And
Christopher Plant: [00:16:10] I used to go to New York all the time, but now I haven’t been, when was the last time you were in New York? Over a year ago? Yeah, I was there in late February. Yeah. It’s funny, right? To just think about how how quickly things got shut down and how, I was speaking with somebody yesterday and we were just talking about what it’s going to be like to compute this time and how it will impact not only businesses, but generationally.
And it’ll be very interesting to see what it does for a Philadelphia, because I think that it has. In many ways shined a truer light on the value proposition of being here. And when you think about being a kid, a young go-getter going to New York, I are you, do you know Sarah Van Aiken?
Of course, I thought so. She told me funny story about, graduating from school and running up to Manhattan and taking a job, working for a like more of a wholesaler in denim, and I just think it will be really interesting to find out where the jobs are going to be and what the trends are going to be and how it’s going to, if it’s so much is happening on e-commerce.
Where will people feel like they need to be?
Elissa Bloom: [00:17:13] Unfortunately, but fortunately with the pandemic, it has actually. Worked in the designer’s favor. They’ve had less distractions, so they’ve been able to be more focused on their business and really hunkering down on, their business strategies and.
Being able to focus more. But also we as an organization have been able to secure some incredible speakers that we wouldn’t have asked. Normally we’ve had speakers from New York and Dubai yesterday. We had Sarah Carson who is founder of Liotta dress brand. We had a speaker last week from Chicago.
We had a speaker a few weeks ago from England and normally. We’d just be asking local industry leaders to come or
Christopher Plant: [00:17:56] have somebody there at great cost or something like that. Yeah.
Elissa Bloom: [00:17:59] But now that they don’t have to schlep down to Macy’s to meet with the designers, it’s actually worked in I’m their favorite cause we’ve been able to secure some incredible speakers for them.
And with that, we have decided to launch a virtual model because we started actually when the pandemic hit that’s when Ninth residency started in March. And the second week of March, when we started going into lockdown, I got a call from the commerce department asking to compile a list of local designers and manufacturers for matchmaking.
And from my outreach within 24 hours connected with Evan Malone at Maida Institute and Kendra Brill. Who’s a local designer here and Mel Bayada and we formed a task force called cover APHL. And so that was. Really incredible to be able to work within the community and really helping out with mask making.
So we had 200 volunteers. I had an Noman who was an incredible team leader managing our 200 volunteers, but in six weeks we were able to deliver over 7,000 masks to 19 healthcare organizations here in the community. And then when that ended in may, I really wanted to. Give back to the community. So I launched a public program series.
We normally had public programs in person four to six times a year. We’d have various panels on the business of fashion, but we launched in may of last year, a weekly series on Thursdays called fashion Thursdays it’s every Thursday from 11 to 12. And I have various speakers come in and talk on the business of fashion.
Christopher Plant: [00:19:41] cool. 75 different presentations in 2020. That’s. That’s no joke
Elissa Bloom: [00:19:46] that that was for the cohort. And then with the FA with the fashion Thursdays, we had 28. Yeah. 28. Speakers. So from this experience, because we had attendees because there’s also a Macy’s fashion incubator in Chicago and in San Francisco, and I’m also in touch with the Brooklyn fashion incubator.
So we’ve had attendees on these fashion, Thursdays from all over the country. And we are now launching a virtual model that is going to be up later this month with. The recordings from our fashion, Thursdays, and also we have started a Facebook community called FA fashion entrepreneur network, and we have other resources for this virtual model that, that we’re launching.
So we’re really excited to be able to share some of this knowledge and
Christopher Plant: [00:20:34] in innovating your way through the pandemic, and and I have found that a lot of people have been able to unleash their sort of. Scope of who they want to connect with because the, this, the zooms and everything have become so commonplace that, they reach out to people and people are generally willing to talk about themselves.
And if you can make it easy for them, that’s super interesting. And I, it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts your, the future trajectory of what you’re doing. And so you’re in your 10th year. And so what do you see coming out of this? What do you see for the next five years?
And what do you hope for as we emerge from the pandemic?
Elissa Bloom: [00:21:11] That’s a really good question. I hope we continue to graduate and empower the fashion entrepreneurs that we currently have in the program that they continue to grow their businesses and expand their companies. We’ve had.
With our alumni over 70% of them are still in business. That’s pretty good. Yep. And we have Mulana diverge who is in our program in 2016 who sold her company, who is. Definitely one of our most successful designers. She’s right here. She has on her boutique on spring garden. Sure. You pass by it.
Yeah, I know it. Yeah. And sheriff mosey, who was just featured on QVC last year to Amy and Leo volution. Amy was in our program in 2006.
Christopher Plant: [00:22:01] I was just on the phone with Leo yesterday.
Elissa Bloom: [00:22:04] Leo is one of our board members. That’s great. Yeah. So with their print, fresh brands. And we’re really. Proud to see how many of our designers are still in business and being able to continue to expand and grow their reach and their sales.
So for the next five years, we just want to continue to see this expand and also being able to offer our resources to the greater Philadelphia community. Right now me being the one and only employee of the organization, we’re very. Exclusive with the one cohort, but as I said, launching with this virtual model and really being able to share some of this great education and the resources
Christopher Plant: [00:22:41] How do you support this organization?
How do you raise the money? I know so well this, with my background and cultural works like these, single human entities, where you have to wear like a dozen hats in every single day. So what do you, where does the money come from?
Elissa Bloom: [00:22:57] We are. a 501c3, nonprofit.
We welcome any and all donations. We have a donate button that’s up on the website, Philadelphia fashion, incubator.com. So please visit. But for now we have center city district who is one of our founding sponsors and has been a huge support. Of the initiative Macy’s continues to be a big support.
And we have Ballard Spahr who is our legal or its sponsor. Yep. And QVC, we love that one. We have Vicki right-on too, is our source sourcing director for QVC who’s on our board. So you know where we are currently. Seeking new corporate sponsors and other donations. So if anyone is interested in supporting our exciting initiative, definitely reach out.
Christopher Plant: [00:23:51] Yeah. We’ll include note we’ll include notes. So with that, with with that podcast somebody that two, two schools come up over and over again. And what was Philadelphia university, which is now Jefferson, which I just got an MBA from. So I’m very familiar with some of the stuff that they were doing with hemp and that sort of trying to.
And then Drexel and both seem to have this focus on smart, like technology and clothes. And what is your relationship? You said you, you taught at
Elissa Bloom: [00:24:17] Drexel. I taught at Drexel. I taught a course on fashion entrepreneurship and in which
Christopher Plant: [00:24:23] school.
Elissa Bloom: [00:24:25] It was in the Westfall school to graduate students.
Christopher Plant: [00:24:28] I love that school and I’m sending a a kid off to Drexel engineering next year, which I’m very excited about. And I’m really love what that school has been doing. And then even paying attention to, the merger of Philadelphia university and and Jefferson and listening to Stephen Klasko and listening to even inside of it.
That what was happening with some of the innovations? What what do you guys do to incorporate into those schools and drag them into what you’re doing? Yes.
Elissa Bloom: [00:25:01] Yes. For some and Drexel have been a great supporter of our initiative. And we have had some designers that have done some projects with Jefferson we had smart, adaptive clothing that has participated in some events.
They. Nancy Conner who has a line of shirts for people that have challenges dressing themselves. So it has Velcro in the placket and on the sleeves. And we have many of our designers and alumni have spoken at the schools. But many of them are really focused on, we also, we have incredible interns from Jefferson and Drexel.
The Drexel co-op has been amazing for our
Christopher Plant: [00:25:44] designers. I can’t wait to jump into that. Like figuring out how to get some of those people to me and Bella Shay, who has a. Who I mentioned had moved into our Manayunk location has this just absolutely alarmingly, wonderful young man. That’s working for her who is, looks identical to my older son.
And when he walked in, I was like my heart. And so I’ve connected. I’ve connected him. Yeah. Who’s like making some really fun, progressive clothes with my own son who is doing a lot of screen printing and stuff. And so I, I do think that co-op program is wild. That’s really interesting.
Elissa Bloom: [00:26:18] been great. And then we’re part, we have had an incredible partnership with Wharton. They’ve been extremely supportive of our initiative and they have the JH Baker retailing center. Amina fader just gave a talk to our designers last week. And so you got the neighbors,
Christopher Plant: [00:26:35] some people out there knew everybody.
Elissa Bloom: [00:26:38] Really been about connecting these designers to the best and brightest, who are experts in the field of the business of fashion. But as and as you said, being an entrepreneur is so challenging. It’s so much blood, sweat, and tears. And in the fashion industry, it’s not just a sprint, as we know, it’s a 10 year marathon, five, 10 year marathon.
So you really have to be. Committed being able to pivot quickly, as many of our designers had to do last year. And we have one designer who was making custom cocktail dresses, and nobody
Christopher Plant: [00:27:15] comes out, nobody goes out for cocktails anymore.
Elissa Bloom: [00:27:18] Just being able to to reinvent yourself and.
Being able to have that support. I think one of the greatest parts of the incubator is not only as I’ve been dropping a lot. Yeah. I have a great support that we’ve had from our educators and industry leaders, but it’s also, I feel the biggest, incredible benefit to these designers is the cohort, like the dynamic within the cohort.
The support that they get from one another. The feedback that they’re getting from each other and tapping into the alumni and all the great resources that they’re able to provide. We have many alumni that come back to teach webinars that are mentors to our designers. We’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to build this community here in Philly that just keeps getting stronger and stronger.
Christopher Plant: [00:28:08] The other thing that I was going to say, but I didn’t want to interrupt about fashion is that So many businesses are immediate, right? You make a thing, you sell, you, you create a plate of food, you sell the food, you rent the space, you do this thing. And fashion is presumably in many cases has to be 12 months ahead and there are so many implicating factors that can disrupt that.
You mentioned about overseas stuff. And I remember stories about overseas production was like hilarious. Yeah. And there a way that you were talking about local production? Is there a way of reaching out to different organizations to to try and foster. Like, how do you build into that community for creating the local makers?
Because I have, frequently spoken with different people that I know in fashion who say that it is very, that it’s hard to get stuff
Elissa Bloom: [00:28:59] made. It is hard. It is. I, we have some really great. Local manufacturers are just not enough of them. Some of our designers have actually hired kind of their own small teams of pattern makers and sellers that they’re working with locally.
And then many of them are working with small batch manufacturers that are in Kensington, Fishtown, Chinatown. It’s still a challenge and now a lot of our designers are looking to do pre-orders and to sell it. So they’re not holding onto lots of inventory. But that, that is, the, a missing link that, we’re hoping to prove through our.
Taskforce. I’m working with here in Philadelphia and also just finding new manufacturing sources. Yeah.
Christopher Plant: [00:29:48] I’m wearing here. This is a a little coat I got at Franklin and co and and although I think this is made from a New York company, I do just so adore the idea of really Buying local and knowing that it was made here another person who I have a pair of jeans from BDDW are you familiar with that company?
It’s primarily a furniture the company, but they make a lot of clothes and they’re now starting to make shoes and different things like that. I’ll connect you with that, but this idea of re-inventing a community of makers and and that, that sort of ecosystem where, the design, the production and sourcing and then the distribution, and then.
Making the money is don’t know. It seems like a natural fit that, that I hope that you’re able to get, the right people to support. And I remember in my work with culture works, there was a lot of talk about, this, the, the workshop of the world, and what Philadelphia used to mean.
Especially for clothes and then also for, cars and chassies and stuff like that. And so I do see a return to that, that the, trying to support those organizations. But
Elissa Bloom: [00:30:55] it’s interesting that you’re bringing this up because when we first launched our board, Matt. And we thought, okay, who are we?
Who will we serving? What are we going to be here? Not only locally, but nationally, how do we want to be perceived? And we knew, New York gets all. You know everything. Okay. We’re not New York. We’ll never be New York, but Philadelphia is a maker city. We are a city of makers and I always compare a fashion because I think there’s such parallels to the food industry.
And when you think of just the incredible. Farmer’s markets and the restaurants here and food trucks and how people are becoming more interested and committed to supporting, local growers and the markets here, and being more concerned about what they’re eating, what they’re putting in their bodies.
And it’s the same with what they’re putting on their bodies. They’re becoming more interested in. You know what things are made of looking at labels. And I think it’s really about our designers and Philadelphia educating the consumer about their products and why the price points are where they are and where they need to
Christopher Plant: [00:32:04] be to support them.
And, you’re not going to be competing with target and some of these fast fashion brands that are. Creating disposable clothing, but I, this is interesting and we’ll talk more later, especially with my move to Philly, because I do think that there’s this unique opportunity that can arise from our proximity to New York, to being close to one of the most incredible markets in the entire world, regardless of what happens with the the pandemic and how that’s going to impact New York city.
But it really does make sense to To build that connection where it has been primarily oppositional and it’s okay New York gets to take all our people. So let’s like forcefully identify who we are. But I do also think that, people can make stuff here more affordably than they can there.
And I talked to people who are in theater, who were looking to do something off Broadway for $3 million that I think they could do down here for a million dollars. And they could really get their audience organized. They could make their mistakes. In an affordable place. And I think that, across the board, it’s something that I’m very interested.
So I would, I look forward to talking to you more about that and, helping foster this idea that Philadelphia is a great place to make stuff. And reinforcing that, that concept and idea, but then helping to execute. What Where did the the bag maker go what are you doing for your, do you still work on your own things?
And I don’t mean this that there isn’t creativity in running this organization, you have obviously both sides of the brain the art side and the business side.
Elissa Bloom: [00:33:28] That’s a very good question. So yeah, my manufacturing that I had 5,000 piece unit in abouts.
Yeah. I still have firstname.lastname@example.org. I may Lisa in New York, a really great product. So take a look. But I also. Have my creative outlet of, I’m still drawing the girls and I am launching a new gift brand called bloom and babes. Oh, I love it. And they’re based on real women various characters and personalities.
What’s a real woman. But we have Like cat lady, Lola veer, the vegan freedom, fat free to fashionista. But really tapping into these archetypes and personas that. Everyone can relate
Christopher Plant: [00:34:12] to. That’s awesome. Bloomin’ babes bloomin’ babes and when’s that? Launching this spring. All right. Yep.
Good. I think, I went to art school. I know that the creativity that is in and I’ll frequently get Oh, where are you? Are you still painting? And it’s interesting to me to think about how the nature of creativity, like really crawls into like every part of your brain.
And especially if you are in the business of having people look at and evaluate, and then cast judgment on this thing that you’ve made you end up having to develop a very thick skin and it creates a resilience. And you talked about fashion being similar to food. And I think that’s the same, working in those two industries opens you up to.
A lot of character building exercises.
Elissa Bloom: [00:34:56] I think you bring up a really good point because there’s so much feedback that our designers are getting from various industry leaders on their product and their business models. And I think to your point, Christopher, you have to have such a tough skin.
You have to be very clear on who you are, your why, of why you’re launching your company and being able to take constructive. Feedback and not looking
Christopher Plant: [00:35:20] criticism even when it’s not, but being able to just take, get information about your thing and then process it in a way that doesn’t crush you, that hopefully moves you forward.
And I think that’s That’s a real, it’s a really interesting skill,
Elissa Bloom: [00:35:33] And sometimes, when you’re working on something, you are so close to it, it’s hard to get perspective. So when someone from the outside or maybe has no experience in that sector, that’s why I love also bringing in industry leaders that are not in fashion too.
That bring a different perspective, but I think it’s really being able to just listen and either say, okay, they gave me some good nuggets of information that I want to now execute and put into my business, or no, this is not true to me. They didn’t understand fully. The brand or what I’m presenting or they’re not my customer.
They’re not my customers. Yeah.
Christopher Plant: [00:36:08] That’s also a good thing is this idea of not trying to please everybody and understanding sometimes that when people respond negatively to something that you have produced or what you’re representing, that could be a good thing because it helps you and that, that sort of data inputs in terms of figuring out what yeah.
Who is your customer and should this. Be viewed as a negative or is there, is it that I think that there’s a way of taking positive feedback from everything. Yeah.
Elissa Bloom: [00:36:38] And another big thing is our designers are not designing trends. They’re not following trends,
Christopher Plant: [00:36:45] Fast fashion
Elissa Bloom: [00:36:46] boom.
Like what the color is, what, So that’s, we have designers that are in the program that are very focused on one particular category. That’s been, difference, over the years where our designers were mostly, developing like 12 piece collections. Now they’re focused on one or two different products in a niche category.
So with Emily Salovey, who’s currently in the program, her company is called Juno Jones. She’s doing women’s work boots for women that work in non and construction. So engineers. Yeah,
Christopher Plant: [00:37:17] but also having to go out and get Timberlands.
Elissa Bloom: [00:37:19] There were no. Quality women work bits. And so she has spent over two years developing the product and just shipping this week, but it’s this one, one product.
Yeah. And we have Nicole Mohammad from so elevated. She has a modest wear brand. And she’s focusing on a few key silhouettes for her customers that she’s focused on. So she has a two neck and a duster. She also has some great scarves and Mac sets. But it’s really about, it’s no longer about I’m going to design this and people are going to like it.
Now there’s so much more. Customer research market research. That’s going into these designers then designing and creating the product, making sure that there is a customer
Christopher Plant: [00:38:05] like hyper-specific right. I think that’s great. And especially when you’re trying to control costs and you’re trying to launch something and, finding something that you do very well and trying to achieve a certain level of success there.
And then, presumably moving forward in terms of becoming maybe even more specific or trying to broaden it out. Yeah. So thank you very much for coming into the studio. If people are interested in learning more about the fashion incubator, where should they look?
Elissa Bloom: [00:38:31] Go to our website, Philadelphia fashion, incubator.com or our Facebook page, Philadelphia fashion incubator, or at Phillip incubator on Instagram and also on
Christopher Plant: [00:38:43] Twitter.
Yeah. And and so that’s where people find you are the information sessions that you’re doing. Are those available to the general public?
Elissa Bloom: [00:38:50] Yes. Our fashion Thursdays are open to anyone they’re free. Please join our mailing list. And we. Look forward to seeing you on one of our zooms until we can meet in person.
Christopher Plant: [00:39:03] Okay. Thanks Elisa, Blum for coming in and the fashion incubator and helping us to learn more about that. And I’m looking to stay with radio kismet, connected to what you guys are doing. Thank you everybody for listening. This is RADIOKISMET. I am Christopher Plant. We’re located at 448 North 10th street.
You can find out more information about us www.RADIOKISMET.com. See you all soon.
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