The newly-formed Nashville Fashion Alliance, the city's first organized step towards building a sustainable fashion industry, passed its first big test this weekend.
The nonprofit organization hit (and surpassed) its Kickstarter fundraising goal, which was $100,000. The campaign, which ended Saturday morning, secured $103,321 through 666 backers. The seed money will be used to fund programming and education events for Nashville's growing roster of fashion industry workers, from skilled seamstresses to stylists and designers.
The founders and board member behind the NFA, which launched in April, believe that with the proper infrastructure and support, Nashville has the opportunity to emerge as a fashion industry player, enhancing the city's creative economy and helping fuel new job growth in the region, as apparel manufacturing jobs come back onshore.
The NFA has partnered with Catholic Charities, The Housing Fund and Omega Apparel, a privately-owned factory, to create a sewing training academy for underserved populations and is talking with Metro schools about creating an apparel industry track in its Academies pathway program. The owner of Omega Apparel has plans to add up to 1,000 jobs at a factory he wants to build in Nashville over the next five years.
Although many of Nashville's designers involved in the NFA are well-known nationally, and the campaign was written up in national trade press, the campaign didn't reach its funding goal until the 11th hour. With two days left, the NFA had raised just over $60,000 on Kickstarter.
"Our community has sent a message that is loud and clear with the success of our Kickstarter campaign," said NFA CEO Van Tucker, in a release. "Our first priority is advocacy - building this community and speaking as one voice to raise awareness of our industry's needs and economic impact. Working together, we can build a new workforce, create jobs and solve problems so our creative companies can thrive."
In recent months, several fashion industry heavyweights have advised Nashville t o better connect between its rich music scene and its emerging fashion scene, including supermodel, songstress and part-time resident Karen Elson. To help bring the campaign over the finish line, the NFA partnered with Elson to host a private concert later this summer, with tickets only available to NFA backers.