The Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA) is an initiative launched by Pratt Institute to provide designers the support and resources they need to transform their ideas into successful businesses. Having managed Pratt's Design Incubator for over ten years, Founder and Executive Director Debera Johnson saw many young designers, especially in fashion, struggle to make their ventures viable due to the decline of local manufacturing in New York City. The shrinking of the city's Garment District meant that emerging designers looking to expand their collection now needed to go abroad and somehow be able to afford and meet manufacturers' minimum orders. Considering this gap and its implications on the environment, Johnson realized the need to spearhead the creation of a dynamic, collaborative space that would increase local manufacturing and serve as a support system not only for the needs of its resident designers, but the local community as well. Developing and implementing a new business model and comprehensive launch strategy would be required to secure funding and get the BF+DA off the ground successfully.
Recognizing that the BF+DA would play a role in a number of industries, Forward Mapworks analyzed a variety of ecosystems. We examined and evaluated factors of success and failure in areas such as fashion, manufacturing and retailing, technology, and multi-directional learning and knowledge sharing. Within this vast landscape, we also identified and engaged with potential strategic partners who could act as co-creators for the BF+DA to become a viable and self-sustaining organization. Concurrently, we had to gain a deep understanding of young designers in order to fully align the BF+DA mission with their needs and develop the type of culture and system that would support them and their ventures.
The BF+DA Brand Guide provides Johnson and her leadership team a document that continuously acts as the foundational roadmap for this initiative by articulating the BF+DA's big idea and the core values and principles that drive this organization forward. It describes the culture that the team hopes to nurture within the space. During the early pre-launch stages, it also defined how the organization would establish its brand and laid out rough guardrails for the ideal type of ventures, researchers, and individuals that would strive within the BF+DA.
As the BF+DA passes through different phases of development and implementation, our full-scale market engagement and communications strategy prepares them with opportunities to tell compelling narratives in innovative ways. We also designed an impact measurement strategy that will allow the leadership team to track the organization's progress and success.
The business and revenue model we iterated with Johnson on successfully contributed to securing funding for the BF+DA. It is a self-sustaining model that supports emerging design ventures into viability while still allowing for creative experimentation and research. The BF+DA opened its doors in November 2014.
New Venture, Brand Identity, Organization Strategy, Financial Plan, Ecosystem Mapping
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