AUSTIN, Texas — The City of Austin and Austin Community College are building a new fashion incubator, just as thousands of creatives make their way town for or SXSW.
The college recently hired fashion designer Nina Means as director. In her role, she will develop and implement the program’s objectives to help entrepreneurs develop their products from conception to creation.
The incubator emanates from a 2015 impact and opportunities study that said Austin’s $86 million fashion industry can grow if given the right resources.
“The ACC fashion incubator is really about building businesses in the fashion industry in Austin,” Mean said. “We have a lot of makers here who are very skilled, very creative, and some of them are even selling in the market, but what we want to do is to help them scale and develop businesses that allow us to actually hire into the workforce.”
The program is still in the development stages and could be anywhere from 12 to 18 months long, Means said. The 7,500 square-foot incubator at ACC Highland in North Austin will be home to $13 million state-of-the-art Gerber Technology manufacturing equipment, software, training and support.
Entrepreneurs will also learn about business development. Potential courses will include doing taxes, drafting business plans, creating brand strategies, and understanding rules and regulations about selling in stores.
“A lot of these things you just don’t learn in a traditional design school environment even, let alone when you’re just making something beautiful at home or you’re making something beautiful in a small factory space,” Means said. “We really want to support the businesses with something that will allow them to truly grow.”
ACC currently has continuing education courses in fashion. Spectrum News spoke to students in a fabrics class who said they were looking forward to the incubator.
“I like to consider myself deeply rooted in the music scene here in Austin, Texas,” said Derrick Guzman, a student. “Everyone if you know Austin is so eclectic. It’s so different. You’ve got a range of people a range of fashion so this is the place to be.”
Means said she is working to have the fashion incubator open by the fall, but an official launch date has yet to be announced.
“This is an evolutionary process, we’re not going to get there overnight,” she said. “Becoming a New York or a Paris at this point maybe a little bit further in our future, but this isn’t a flash in the pan. “We’re going to be here in the while.”