Non-profit

FABRIC Tempe is an Arizona 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

OUR MISSION is to provide apparel entrepreneurs with training, guidance, innovative industry resources, and access to no-minimum and on-demand manufacturing, so they can build sustainable fashion businesses domestically.

OUR VISION is to establish Arizona as a modern fashion industry capital for the U.S. by creating a tech-based, sustainable, closed loop fashion industry ecosystem that attracts and supports direct-to-consumer apparel brands.

The NonProfit

Our Contribution to the Community

40 select minority, veteran, disabled, and economically challenged entrepreneurs receive FREE scholarships to:
Apparel Entrepreneur Digital Assistant: A tech-based, digital assistant that provides guidance, resources, and education via a “road map” of steps that navigate business startup, branding, marketing, product development, and manufacturing.
Value: $4,000.00
FREE with scholarship

250 select minority, veteran, disabled, and economically challenged entrepreneurs receive $3,495 scholarships to:
Apparel Entrepreneur Digital Assistant: A tech-based, digital assistant that provides guidance, resources, and education via a “road map” of steps that navigate business startup, branding, marketing, product development, and manufacturing.
Value: $4,000.00
$500 with scholarship


ALL other community members and entrepreneurs receive:

  • FREE sourcing library
  • FREE business directory listing to all industry pros
  • FREE fashion job classifieds to all
  • FREE local fashion event calendar to all
  • FREE and discounted event space to select non-profits and qualifying entities
  • Discounted office/studio space to all industry pros
  • Attend FREE and discounted events
  • FREE and discounted event participation to select entrepreneurs and students
  • FREE and discounted access to select classes
  • Access to discounted industry design, manufacturing, branding, business startup, marketing services
  • Access to no-minimum manufacturing using the Apparel Entrepreneur Digital Assistant road map

Special Thanks

The Non-Profit Story

THE PROBLEM
When the internet made it possible for apparel entrepreneurs to sell direct-to-consumer online, and compete with established fashion brands, the industry started to change. Anyone with a good idea for a niche sewn product could reach customers around the world, however the manufacturing resources required to make sewn products were set up for big brands, who overproduced large quantities, overseas. The industry was unsustainable, set in its ways, and frankly broken. Apparel manufacturing was ready for disruption.

High MOQ’s = huge investments
Location = lack of quality control
Inexperience = costly mistakes
Overseas production = language barrier, time zone challenges, high import fees, size differences, human rights issues, unregulated unsustainable practices

THE SOLUTION
In 2016, apparel entrepreneurs Sherri Barry and Angela Johnson set out to solve these problems for other brand owners. They established Arizona Apparel Foundation as an Arizona 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with the mission to provide Arizona’s emerging designers and brands with innovative, small batch manufacturing and strategic business resources, so they can build sustainable fashion businesses locally; and a vision of establishing Arizona as a leader in sustainable, innovative fashion design and manufacturing. AZ Apparel Foundation, along with Sherri’s manufacturing business AZ Fashion Source and Angela’s fashion consultancy LabelHorde, established a fashion incubator inside of Tempe’s former Performing Arts Center called FABRIC: Fashion And Business Resource Innovation Center.

THE UNIQUE MODEL
From 2016 to 2020, FABRIC managed to help over 600 apparel entrepreneurs and provide over $3M in free and discounted programs and services to the community through a unique, award winning model referred to as a public-social-cooperative-enterprise. This model celebrates the collaboration between a city, a non-profit, a community, and for-profit businesses. The city provided the in-kind use of the incubator building, the non-profit provided entrepreneurs the opportunity to take advantage of rare resources, the community volunteered to administer programming, and AZ Fashion Source and LabelHorde provided the scarce no-minimum manufacturing opportunity to designers, as well as the equipment, staff, resources, skill, time, reputation, industry experience, and expertise.

THE PIVOT
In March of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, FABRIC pivoted. Sherri and Angela began receiving desperate requests for PPE from countless large and small healthcare facilities as well as Tribal Nations. As the borders closed, the nation immediately understood the importance of reshoring apparel manufacturing when our healthcare workers couldn’t get the PPE they needed and were left unprotected. Without hesitation, and in record time, the team at FABRIC devised a plan to convert its runway/event space into a PPE factory, and rework its no-minimum manufacturing model into high-volume, lean manufacturing capabilities. $400K was raised through community and foundation donations to purchase equipment, convert and prepare the FABRIC building, acquire FDA certification, and hire staff so that AZ Fashion Source, the manufacturer at FABRIC, could ramp up. Becoming an essential business during a pandemic came with significant risks, unimaginable hard work, and emotional challenges, yet an unlikely silver lining kept the team going. The equipment purchased for the PPE would live on after the pandemic, within the FABRIC model, to help the apparel entrepreneurs. Now, instead of referring growing brands to Los Angeles or overseas, once they maxed out of FABRIC’s no-minimum factory, these brands would finally have a higher capacity Arizona resource. And AZ Apparel Foundation would have its own equipment to contribute to the FABRIC model instead of relying on AZ Fashion Source and LabelHorde for its share of the “giveback”. This silver lining gave Sherri and Angela the confidence to finally step off of the AZ Apparel Foundation Board of Directors to focus on the long road of PPE manufacturing ahead.

In the months to come, FABRIC proudly managed to manufacture 600,000 reusable level 2 and level 3 isolation gowns. Each gown could be washed 100 times, which kept 60,000,000 disposable gowns from going into the landfills.  The gowns, purposefully priced at cost, were cheaper per wash than their disposable alternative and gave FABRIC the experience and ability to mass produce a sewn product. This amazing outcome meant that FABRIC was one step closer to its vision of establishing Arizona as a leader in sustainable, innovative fashion design and manufacturing. President Biden and Vice President Harris even visited FABRIC to recognize these efforts.

THE NEW ENTITY
In mid 2020, after Sherri and Angela had stepped off of the Board of Directors for the AZ Apparel Foundation to focus on making PPE, the remaining board members made the decision to take AZ Apparel Foundation in a different direction. The AZ Apparel Foundation became The Fashionomic Collective, established a new mission, found a new home outside of the FABRIC building, and removed the PPE equipment from the FABRIC building.

In an effort to continue offering the same free and discounted programs and services that had helped over 600 apparel entrepreneurs, at FABRIC, Sherri and Angela established a new non-profit and simplified the FABRIC model. Instead of a public-social-cooperative-enterprise, FABRIC is now simply one 501(c)(3) non-profit called FABRIC Tempe. Its mission is to provide apparel entrepreneurs with training, guidance, innovative industry resources, and access to no-minimum manufacturing, so they can build sustainable fashion businesses domestically.

And in order to continue to fill emergency orders for PPE during the pandemic and keep the PPE staff employed, AZ Fashion Source purchased the equipment it needed, and moved into a new location a few miles from FABRIC. AZ Fashion Source also endowed FABRIC Tempe with the money it needed to restore the building and equip it for virtual events so it could begin to generate the event income it had relied upon prior to the pandemic.

THE FUTURE
The pandemic sped up many inevitable changes in the industry and at FABRIC. As the world turned toward technology and went virtual, so did FABRIC. Many of FABRIC’s classes and resources were converted to video and uploaded into a “roadmap” of resources on a new website. The roadmap virtually guides apparel entrepreneurs through business startup, branding, marketing, design development, and manufacturing. FABRIC Tempe now scholarships hundreds of disadvantaged apparel entrepreneurs into this roadmap each year. This roadmap is attracting industry partners and entrepreneurs from all over the nation and is helping brands overcome the industry’s obstacles affordably.

FABRIC and AZ Fashion Source are both working toward establishing on-demand manufacturing resources for Arizona making it one of the only states in the nation that offers this sustainable, affordable solution to apparel manufacturing.