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These San Antonio nonprofits want to transform Texas into ‘third coast’ for fashion industry

Local nonprofits transforming Texas into ‘third coast’ for fashion

Texas Fashion Industry Initiative models waiting
Two San Antonio nonprofits want to turn Texas into the third coast of fashion. Texas Fashion Industry Initiative/Facebook

San Antonio's up-and-coming fashion entrepreneurs might one day compete on Project Runway or have their designs featured on fashion show runways in New York City or Paris. But first, those aspiring visionaries are benefiting from a new local partnership that will help them get a better grasp of the business aspect of the industry.

Texas Fashion Industry Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to promoting local fashion communities through innovation and creating opportunities, recently signed a five-year contract with Maestro Entrepreneur Center, another nonprofit whose mission it is to help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Together, the two San Antonio organizations are developing the curriculum for their new Silver Jacket Entrepreneur Program, which will formally be rolled out in February 2020. The Silver Jacket program will equip fashion artists and business owners with critical education needed to begin — and grow — their own fashion-focused venture, thus helping Texas compete with fashion industry meccas like New York City and Los Angeles.

Program curriculum will cover a range of topics, from marketing and public relations to graphic and web design and accounting. Advocates behind this partnership understand that entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages of launching a business, are usually the only full-time employee and often lack the expertise and resources to guide their enterprise in a successful way.

Upon finishing the Silver Jacket curriculum, Maestro’s 11-week cohort program will take over students’ accelerator business education, providing these new entrepreneurs with ongoing support for further business development.

“As these entrepreneurs build their fashion businesses throughout the year, the goal will be to offer a continual nurturing presence throughout this process,” says TFII president Burgundy Woods in a press release. “Their success is our success and we want to see more fashion community doing what they love full-time, not as a side gig.”

This annual cycle will lead into the city’s biggest fashion event of the year — Fashion Week SATX — held in October. Successful entrepreneurs who go through the program will be awarded their Silver Jackets on stage during Fashion's Week's San Antonio Fashion Awards.

Plus, the honorees will be deemed the new “ones to watch” in the fashion industry, as they will be showcased twice a year through the “Ones to Watch” partnership event organized by the industry initiative and Maestro.

The industry initiative is headquartered at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio, a hub for local creatives and high-tech startups. The Maestro Center is a collaborative effort between the Maestro Leadership Foundation and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Leadership Development Foundation.

The center operates on San Antonio’s Near West Side, where despite a history of socioeconomic challenges, community members and leaders strive to break that endless cycle of economic disadvantages.

“At the Maestro Entrepreneur Center, we have created true economic development by helping grow our existing companies in a historically underutilized area of town,” says Julissa Cerielo in the release. A local business owner, Cerielo chaired SAHCC’s Small Business Advocacy Committee when she helped to create the Maestro Center in 2016.

San Antonio’s fashion community has been rapidly growing over the last few years. Some native designers, such as Samantha Plasencia and Anthony Ryan, have gone onto big things, including competing on Project Runway. Roger Canamar, a fashion designer and former model agent, snagged print campaigns with Vogue, Versace, and Armani. Lisa Weller, who owns a local hair salon, has been styling hair at major fashion shows worldwide.

Members of San Antonio’s fashion community are currently encouraged to nominate a peer for this year’s San Antonio Fashion Awards, which will be held October 5 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

The nomination period ends at midnight on July 21. Fourteen categories will be acknowledged this year, including Local Retailer of the Year, Makeup Innovator of the Year, Hair Innovator of the Year, Jewelry Design or Accessories of the Year, Influencer of the Year, and Texas Fashion Industry Initiative Professional of the Year. Award show proceeds will go to TFII.