Successful mentorship and education has helped ten designers enrolled in Fashion TT's Value Chain Investment Programme (VCIP) become profitable and expand to new markets.
This information was disclosed at a Fashion TT press conference held last Friday at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain.
"Within the 2017/2018 year of mentoring with consultant professor Vincent Quan, the overall increase in sales for these designers was an estimated 20 per cent, with one designer in the lead with a 59 per cent boost in sales," said Fashion TT chairman Jason Lindsay.
Quan is an associate professor from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. He is a global fashion industry advisor with expertise in retailing and merchandise planning, as well as corporate turnarounds. He provides strategic planning, retail training, and gross margin analysis for fashion apparel and accessories companies
Lindsay said after one year of mentoring, all the designers had significant growth in their business, increasing sales, expanding retail distribution and exporting their designs regionally and internationally.
The 2017/2018 VCIP cohort comprised ten participants and the 2018/2019 cohort had an intake of 103.
Designers Ecliff Elie, Jin Ford of J Angelique and Asha and Ayana Diaz of Wadada Movement were at the press conference to testify to the success of the programme. They all said they received rigorous mentorship and business lessons.
Elie said the education he received gave him the confidence to expand his business. He started off with 11 people on staff, he said, and when he analysed his business data, he opened a factory and hired 17 more people.
The Diaz twins said the VCIP helped them cut their production costs and double profits. Originally, they had a company in China produce their designs, but now they employ a person in Chaguanas to create their products.
Ford, who opened a boutique on Bengal Street, St James, said the VCIP helped put her business in perspective. She recently visited Japan where she had a pop up shop, and made connections with businesses in that country.
The VCIP is a four-tier, five-year programme that gives education and mentorship to designers at all levels of their business development.
Future Support is the first tier, providing training for beginner designers to learn technical and business skills through monthly seminars. The designers would also be connected with suppliers, buyers, customers and financial institutions.
The second tier is Business Advisory and Financing. Fashion TT partnered with the National Entrepreneurship Development Company (NEDCO) to teach business fundamentals, provide mentorship and financing.
The Non-Global Value Chain (Non-GVC) tier participants were mentored by Quan, who assisted the designers with refining their business. This tier is available to designers who have an established business.
The advanced participants in the Global Value Chain (GVC) is for advanced participants to get export support from regional and international companies. This includes attending fashion trade shows, sourcing textiles and means of production and business to business meetings with buyers and suppliers. Meiling, Charu Lochan Dass and Elie, who was first in the Non-GVC tier, and graduated to the GVC programme, are the designers in this tier.