How FABRIC evolves fashion entrepreneurship in Arizona
A non-profit organization, fabric incubator, business accelerator, design studio, academy and entrepreneur. These are all the ways the Fashion And Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC) represents and describes themselves according to their homepage website.
FABRIC is a business located at 132 E. 6th St. in Tempe, serving local communities across the valley and helping to support designers create their visions.
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“An incubator to me is like a think tank for evolving ideas, we get a lot of people who have an idea and sometimes their idea is completely obscure or sometimes they just want to recreate a T-shirt and so we try and help them get from point A to point B,” Creative Director Amelia Walsh said. “Not everyone has to be the same, following this cookie cutter program…you’ll have a unique business structure that’s built off a sustainable foundation that you know how to bend and curate to your own needs.”
Co-founders Angela Johnson and Sherri Barry started FABRIC in 2016 because they wanted to help other people and give them the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to start clothing brands but didn’t have the ability because Arizona didn’t have those necessary means.
“I was a brand designer in Los Angeles in the ’90s, and I manufactured clothing there and when I moved to Arizona I had to shut it down because there were no resources here,” Johnson said.
Johnson started out by creating Label Horde, and Sherri owned Arizona Fashion Source. The businesses merged together to rent out their space, along with non-profit Arizona Apparel Foundation, but rebranded as the non-profit FABRIC after the pandemic.
“For 15 years before Fabric, I ran another company called Labelhorde, that was what led to FABRIC, it was like providing a lot of the services that FABRIC is providing, it just didn’t have a physical location,” Johnson said.
According to the FABRIC website, the business offers a variety of resources, such as no-minimum manufacturing, fashion classes and programs, services for fashion entrepreneurs, and a step-by-step digital roadmap.
“You can actually hire me directly from the website. I help people with all of their branding needs, anything from helping people get their website created, to creating them a brand identity package, to helping them with a social media direction or campaign,” Walsh said regarding her role as Creative Director.
Johnson noted some of the struggles to be able to get to this point of success was funding the space in general, but also trying to offer ‘no-minimum manufacturing’ because it was a major financial loss, but they are able to combat this loss by renting out the event spaces.
“The whole entity now is a nonprofit and the way that it works is the city [of Tempe] lets us use the building, we have to give back $600,000 worth of free or discounted programs and services,” Johnson said. “So we document everything that we do for the community that is either free or we document the difference between what it should normally cost and what we charge and that is what we report to the City Council quarterly.”
FABRIC does not serve the Tempe community exclusively, and in fact just hosted a fashion show for Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix Campus fashion journalism club on Nov. 17.
“We serve the whole United States, we have maybe 80% of our clients come from Arizona and then the rest come from other states, even California and New York because even where the resources are, they don’t have anybody helping you through all of the complex stuff you need to know to get through manufacturing, that’s the biggest problem that nobody is solving.”
According to the FABRIC website, they have been able to, “donate over $3 million in discounted programs/services ‘giveback’ to the community with the help of over 700 registered volunteers.”
“Angela and Sherri, they just want to do good for other people…the better they do for people the more they want to do for people,” Walsh said.