Local Designers Prepare to Make their Mark through theBROOKLYNfashionincubator at Berkeley College

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Berkeley Fashion Incubator



Ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates women in business on International Women’s Day

Five fashion entrepreneurs from Brooklyn got their first big break yesterday, as they became the inaugural group of designers in residence for theBROOKLYNfashionincubator (BFI) at Berkeley College. Over the next 12 months, the designers will have access to work space, supplies and advice from leading experts in all facets of the fashion business, including sourcing, production, marketing and e-commerce. 

Berkeley College Fashion incubatorMeet the Designers: Click here to learn about the designers in residence. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held on International Women’s Day celebrated the five women looking to develop their businesses, which range from African-inspired designs to clothing for infants and toddlers. The event also recognized the benefits of growing local talent and bringing economic development to Brooklyn. 

The BFI at Berkeley College is one of five fashion incubators spearheaded by Macy’s in talent-rich areas across the United States. Other sponsors include United Parcel Service, PGM Dress Form, and Express Trade Capital. 

As the host institution in Brooklyn, Berkeley College will provide the design space for the incubator and the necessary equipment, including sewing machines, dress forms, and work areas at its campus on Duffield Street in the downtown area. The incubator will also utilize Fashion Merchandising and Management students from Berkeley College as interns looking to learn the industry. 

The Fashion Merchandising and Management program at Berkeley College was founded in 1970. Through the degree program, housed in the Larry L. Luing School of Business, students integrate the creative and business aspects of the fashion industry, incorporating strategies and management skills in areas such as product development, retail buying, and visual merchandising. 

“If New York City is the Fashion Capital of the World, then Brooklyn is the Fashion Incubator of the World – and the Innovation Capital at that,” said Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College. “Education is the foundation of economic development, and this is a tremendous fit with what we do at Berkeley College.” 

New York City Council member Laurie Cumbo, who represents areas of Brooklyn, said she is excited to see this development happening in the community. 

“Fashion is a product of diversity, and there is so much here in Brooklyn to offer inspiration,” she said. 

Maria Barraza, Director of the BFI at Berkeley College, said the incubator provides a foot in the door in a challenging industry. 

“A lot of people have great ideas, but to put pen to paper and actually transform it into a business is a challenge,” she said. “It is exciting to see these wonderful, talented designers growing their businesses here.” 

One of the selected companies, BlackPhumelele, is owned by a Berkeley College Fashion Merchandising and Management student. Founder Phumelele Kunune grew up in Swaziland, South Africa, where her experience shaped her 1970s-inspired fashions. 

“theBROOKLYNfashionincubator is an important resource for emerging fashion designers,” she said. “I’m grateful to be a part of it.” 

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls approximately 8,300 students – including more than 700 international students – in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ. 

Berkeley College has three New York locations – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are six locations – Clifton, Dover, Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. In January 2016, U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College one of the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Degrees for the third consecutive year.  The website address iswww.BerkeleyCollege.edu

Berkeley College Fashion incubator Brooklyn  

Photo Captions: (Top) Designers and sponsors of theBROOKLYNfashionincubator at Berkeley College pose before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Above right) Designer Alicia Appleton shows off the leather jewelry sold by her Brooklyn-based company, Amber Poitier. (Above) Iessa Sutton, Campus Operating Officer, Berkeley College in Brooklyn; New York City Council member Laurie Cumbo; and designers Phumelele Kunune of BlackPhumelele and Natasha John of Mon Petit Coeur. (Below) Maria Barraza, Director of theBROOKLYNfashionincubator at Berkeley College, and Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, cut the ribbon launching the incubator. (Bottom) Phumelele Kunune, founder of BlackPhumelele (center), speaks with Guy Adamo, PhD (left), and Joshua Williams (right), Co-Chairs, Fashion Merchandising and Management, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business. 

Berkeley College Fashion Laurie Cumbo

Berkeley College brooklyn fashion

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