As fashion leaders from across the industry rally to support Black-owned businesses, a new group of female forces is uniting to make a difference.
Today marks the launch of RAISEfashion, a collective of seasoned industry leaders whose aim is to offer their expertise to emerging Black talent, and help them overcome the challenges they face. (RAISE stands for Respect, Advocate, Inspire, Support, Empower.)
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The board of directors is an advisory of eight industry leaders with extensive experience. Board members include Carly Cushnie, CEO and creative director of her eponymous brand; retail executives Elizabeth von der Goltz, Roopal Patel and Nayla Touma; brand leaders Alexa Geovanos and April Hennig; Nelli Kim, entrepreneur and strategic business consultant; and Felita Harris, tech entrepreneur and fashion executive.
The group’s experience spans all areas of the business, including sales, product, marketing and operations.
“The fashion industry can be incredibly difficult to access. There are so many barriers to entry. Our mission is to break down some of these barriers and to open doors to the Black community through strategic mentorship and networking opportunities,” Cushnie said.
“As a woman of color, I have personally experienced the incredible impact that established executives can have when they invest in young talent,” added Felita Harris, Co-Founder + CEO of Enform, a platform that connects brands with retail sales teams. “That investment is professionally life changing. RAISE is offering the Black community access to information and providing networking opportunities that have the potential to change or propel the trajectory of their careers.”
The advisory is steered by an organizing group matching applicants with the a network of experts, who predetermine the amount of time they are able to volunteer to the project on an ongoing basis.
As part of the launch, the group is teaming up with Harlem’s Fashion Row as its industry partner. It will provide mentorship and strategic consulting for every recipient of Harlem Fashion Row’s Icon360 grant, a nonprofit program providing forgivable relief to designers of color who are pivoting their businesses during coronavirus.
“This is a historic moment for Harlem Fashion Row and designers of color. For 13 years, we’ve known that what has been missing for designers of color is access and mentoring,” said Brandice Daniel, CEO and Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row and executive director of Icon360.
The new initiative is just one of several platforms launched this summer to support diversity and Black talent amid a national conversation about racial equality across the country and within the fashion industry specifically.
The Black in Fashion Council, created by Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and communications consultant Sandrine Charles, launched this summer with 38 participating companies.
In June, celebrity stylists Law Roach, Jason Rembert, Lacy Redway and more than 30 other Black fashion and beauty creatives announced the formation of the Black Fashion & Beauty Collective (BFB Collective).
RAISEfashion hopes to work in synergy with these groups and others across the industry.