2021 Community Contribution

$3,795,888 Contributed in 2021
$6,804,049 Total Contributed Since 2016

Every year we provide our annual report documenting FABRIC’s contribution to the community. As we reflect on the year in an effort to calculate our impact, we are always astonished by how much we’ve been able to accomplish. This year has been strikingly more effective and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the reasons why we were able to “give back” $3,795,888 in 2021 alone. We also wanted to reiterate how grateful we are for the City of Tempe’s support that fuels and empowers our ability to support so many others. 


The need for an Arizona-based fashion incubator was apparent back in 2001 when Angela Johnson closed down her own fashion brand due to a lack of local resources after relocating to Arizona from Los Angeles. As technology leveled the playing field making it possible for entrepreneurs to reach the world online, the need for no-minimum, domestic manufacturing resources grew. Democratizing the fashion industry by enabling inexperienced apparel entrepreneurs to develop and manufacture their ideas domestically was more important than ever. 


By 2016 there were hundreds of local designers needing resources in Arizona and FABRIC opened to fill the need. Thanks to the City of Tempe’s vision, we were able to support hundreds of apparel entrepreneurs using a unique public-social-cooperative-enterprise model that has become the envy of other cities and has incubated hundreds of businesses. Tempe soon became a beacon for modern apparel entrepreneurs. It can be argued that Tempe understood the trend toward supporting microbusinesses long before it was trendy.


Then in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic validated FABRIC’s mission and the microbusiness trend even more. Local manufacturing was more important than ever. Not only was PPE in short supply, but according to a recent article by Brookings titled Microbusinesses During the Pandemic. Now We Must Tap Into Their Full Potential, 2.8 Million more Americans have started online businesses in 2020 than in 2019. Black owners account for 26% of all new microbusinesses, up from 15% before the pandemic. Women-owned businesses account for 57% of new microbusiness starts, up from 48%. Microbusinesses also became a more popular option for those without a college degree, rising from 36% to 44%. According to Brookings, local economic development strategies may look different for microbusinesses than for larger businesses, requiring distinct interventions related to networking, practical assistance, and mentoring. Ultimately, a shift in mindset is as important as policy change. In other words, these new entrepreneurs need unique support to scale. Funding this support is the latest direction for visionary governments like Tempe. FABRIC and Tempe’s partnership has been doing this long before it was trendy.

To mitigate the pandemic’s PPE shortage during the pandemic and also support the increase in demand for local industry resources, FABRIC stepped up. In addition to manufacturing 700K reusable medical gowns for the healthcare industry, we also took the initiative to innovate the FABRIC menu of services by creating a virtual roadmap. This new technology provides industry guidance and resources virtually so that FABRIC can help apparel entrepreneurs nationwide and beyond. FABRIC’s roadmap virtually guides apparel entrepreneurs through design development (samples/prototypes), manufacturing, business startup, branding, and marketing. It makes starting an apparel brand more affordable and more accessible by eliminating the need to hire a full-time staff of experts. 


This new virtual roadmap has enabled FABRIC to support hundreds of apparel entrepreneurs and contains $70K+ in resources including:

Business Startup - 36 steps | 15 tools | 2 videos
Branding - 27 steps | 7 tools | 4 videos
Design Development - 74 steps | 107 tools | 47 videos
Pre-Sales - 18 steps | 2 tools | 3 videos
Manufacturing - 45 steps | 35 tools | 26 videos
Marketing - 42 steps | 4 tools | 5 videos
Events & Fashion Shows - 106 steps | 23 tools | 1 video
The Growing Brand - 16 steps | 1 video | connects into On-Demand

Apparel Entrepreneurs can access the roadmap at $350/mo ($4,000/year) through an Apparel Entrepreneur Membership which already saves them thousands of dollars. And because FABRIC’s commitment has always been to make starting a fashion business more affordable and obtainable, FABRIC simplified its model to become one non-profit entity called FABRIC Tempe and offers full and partial roadmap scholarships to disadvantaged entrepreneurs including minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, and people with financial need.  

In the first year of launching the roadmap, FABRIC has provided over 200 scholarships to deserving and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. 

59 Full Scholarships ($0/mo fee ….savings of $4,000/year)
137 Partial Scholarships ($50/mo fee….savings of $3400/year)


Additionally, this roadmap prepares brands for a more sustainable, tech-based, alternative to traditional overseas manufacturing. Now, brands that start at FABRIC can stay in Tempe as they grow, Sherri created one of the nation’s only automated print, cut, sew, pack, ship factories that offers these automated manufacturing services to small and growing niche brands. This innovative milestone for the industry is attracting new business, growing the economy, providing jobs, sustainably disrupting an industry, and using technology to put Tempe on the fashion map.


Thank you to the City of Tempe for providing the opportunity for FABRIC to fulfill its mission 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 and its vision 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.