Today I went to 3 seminars at Phx Start Up Week hoping to learn how I can get funding or even government support for LabelHorde…after all, LabelHorde is filling a need, offering assistance/education/consulting to countless local fashion brands, hoping to keep fashion manufacturing in AZ, hoping to keep and bring jobs to AZ in fashion, etc… This is something that a city/state should support and IS supporting in other states (see this article from this past Saturday: http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2016/02/19/arizona-has-little-fashion-industry-impact-report-shows/80616574/ ) I made some amazing connections and met a lot of people that could potentially help. Now, I just have to follow up with each of them and follow up with all of their advice. This is a catch 22 because I’m literally working 12+ hours a day on LabelHorde so I’m not sure when I will be able to reach out to each person I met or apply to each grant I was told about, etc… There are a lot of different contests and grants I could apply for, but each one has a huge application that takes a lot of time and energy to fill out and figure out. I’m not sure how I will be able to take advantage of all of this and follow through while running LabelHorde. But, I’m going to give it my best!
One of the panelists, Kathy Sacks said that when she is considering investing in a company she looks at the MANAGEMENT team, the MARKET, and the MOMENTUM. LabelHorde has all of this! Let’s start with MANAGEMENT. Our management team is basically me and all of the community members who are volunteering their time as “staff” to help make this happen. We each have a vested interest and passion. I’ve got stamina and dedication and have proven that over the past 10 years of growing this and sticking to it and nurturing the fashion community by being that middle man and central figure that everyone can rely on to get connected to what they need in manufacturing and design. I was even recently included in this Phoenix Home and Garden article about women who are leading the way in AZ: http://www.phgmag.com/resources/stores/201602/leading-the-way/ I am skilled and educated in my field. I’m very well connected to the industry (who is also our customer base). I am also a designer so I am part of the community who needs this to succeed. That brings us to the MARKET. I’ve watched the fashion industry in AZ grow so much over the past 10+ years. It started out small, and with the help of the LabelHorde directory connecting everyone and providing sourcing, many brands have been able to start up and grow. There are now multiple schools offering fashion degrees, 3 fashion weeks, countless fashion events and groups and more. The market is growing exponentially now and this brings us to the MOMENTUM. Now it the time to capture this. The online services that LabelHorde offers like the directory for sourcing, the classifieds for fashion jobs, the events calendar and the newsletter to keep everyone connected have been helping to get things going. But what is truly needed is a physical location to offer fashion consulting/lessons/incubator services, design services, co-working, manufacturing and just a homebase/headquarters for the industry. So, when we were given the opportunity to move into the Diego Milano Sew Haus factory two weeks ago to prove our concept, it really helped. We can now offer all of this and the community is so excited and are actually using our services. But I’m one person who is trying to offer 60 different services and fill this need while it is needed. I’m there all day every day and still can’t get to everyone. I need a little financial assistance to hire some help and to be able to put some money into basic business expenses. This location is also temporary. I need to secure our next location and it really should be something that the city supports since it is providing manufacturing, jobs and bringing an industry to AZ. But if the city won’t support it, I need an investor who just has a love for fashion and believes in what we are doing to step up and just provide some start up money. I have no personal money to invest, but I’ve proven that I will invest my time, skill, connections and energy. But I also have to be able to pay my own bills while doing so and I’ve had to take all of the profit to do that. I need to be able to invest the profit back in because every business needs some money at the beginning for basic business needs like business cards and marketing, etc… It’s not even that much.
I listened to people talking about tech companies today needing millions of dollars and investors and grants are usually looking for tech companies to invest in. I don’t know exactly what I need, but I think it’s pretty modest. I could do so much with $30,000 and even more with $50,000 (heck…look what I’ve done so far with no money over the past couple of years) because I already own some machinery and equipment and have the income generating services figured out and have a team of volunteers working on it. So, this is what I’m running around attending start up seminars for and meeting with city officials and talking to everyone who will listen when I really need to be filling all of the orders piling up at LabelHorde. It’s a catch 22!!!!!!
So anyways…. I just got home and have about an hour before one of my clients comes for a lesson so I’m going to try to follow up with as many people as possible that I met with today. I am also attending another one of their seminars on Thursday and then on Friday as well. Stay tuned! I’ll keep you all in the loop.