(Photo by Ashley Nguyen)
At past Fashion 360 Conferences — an event that brings together the fashion and digital crowds — Andrew Roby noticed that people wanted to spend more time fleshing out their business strategies. At an event based around panels and networking, pitching a business plan didn’t exactly fit the program.
So Roby decided to give entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their visions.
Hosted by iStrategyLabs and District Fete — Roby’s event planning firm — the Small Business Pitch event brought out D.C. entrepreneurs from the entertainment and fashion industries last week. The panel of judges gave feedback and criticism to 10 small business owners and ultimately decided on one winner, who went home with a slew of prizes.
Here are the pitches that stood out (and companies you should look out for in the D.C. area):
The winning pitch
Kim Elleen began making clothes for herself because, like many women, she couldn’t find the right fits at regular retailers. Elleen’s friends shared her problem, so she began to occasionally design clothing for them too.
Custom men’s wear exists, the local designer told the judges, but women don’t have that.
Elleen’s pitch? Create a website and business where women can choose a style and print and enter their dimensions and body type. Elleen would then send the order off to local seamstresses in the D.C. area and deliver the final product in three to five weeks.
Every purchase would include one free fitting just in case that custom-made dress didn’t fit perfectly.
Women judges knew the exact fit issues Ellen talked about. The male judges didn’t really relate but were enlightened. The judges chose Elleen as the winner of the pitch event.
— Maggy Fancy François (@fancyfrancois) April 3, 2015
“The fashion industry has some issues with diversity,” Christina Madry told the judges. When she was a photo producer for Macy’s, she wanted an assorted mix of models, but instead, she just saw more of the same.
Madry created Modelogs, which she described as a “Zillow for the modeling industry.” Like Zillow connects real-estate agents with buyers, Modelogs introduces agencies and fashion designers casting to models of all ethnicities.
Madry used crowdfunding to develop the Modelogs website, and she has already started forming partnerships with modeling agencies. Each model who agrees to be featured on the site shares six photos, his or her ethnicity, nationality and agency. If the model gets booked by someone using Modelogs, Madry gets a commission.
The models are also broken down into three categories: new comer, rising star or top model.
“It’s a global database that simplifies the casting process,” she said.
DMVs the Move
A few years ago, Joshua Pollard and Dennis Harrison kept missing out on the live shows they wanted to see. Then, when they wanted to see what they missed, they couldn’t find photos or any evidence that the entertainer had actually been in town.
The duo founded DMVs the Move, a website that curates all concerts coming to the District, Maryland and Virginia. After forming partnerships with concert venues throughout the region, they gained access to shows and now shoot video footage, take photos and write up reviews.
Pollard and Harrison also allow DMVs the Move users to share their experiences online by uploading their own snapshots of the concert. They even keep tabs on the habits of venues: When Small Business Pitch event host Stacey Ferguson shared that Meek Mill didn’t come on stage until 1:30 a.m. at a concert March 27, Pollard said, “That’s because rappers are always late coming out at Echostage.”
iPad art — on your bag
Whereas other artists sketch or paint on paper and canvas, Paula Bannerman draws on her iPad (like another artist we recently profiled). The illustrator customizes drawings for bags, laptop cases and clothing.
The D.C. artist has shown her work throughout the DMV-area and Korea, but her daughter might be her biggest fan: She borrowed the customized T-shirt Bannerman wanted to wear to the pitch event without telling her mom.
When you get a chance to take a moment to explain who you are, your goals, your dreams, your desires, in a business setting, make sure to breathe when you are on stage. I am truly thankful for @districtfete @istrategylabs and @fashion360con for the opportunity. #art #WashDC #dc #dmv #artist #artwork #washingtondc #art #designer #ipad #illustration #luxury #fashion #creative #accessory #app #tech #technology #STEM #STEAM A photo posted by Paula Bannerman (@dcartist) on
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