Design Entrepreneurs NYC Announces the (Sustainable) Fashion Class of 2012

7 successful fashion talents we’ll have our eye on this year.

As the ever-wise Alexander McQueen once said, “It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.” An innovative program launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Fashion Institute of Technology seems to be embracing this new era McQueen spoke of.

The executive level program – Design Entrepreneurs NYC – will give participants access to high-level industry execs and provide them with a means to further their skills to run a successful fashion or accessories label. Of 165 applicants, 35 emerging designers were hand-picked to join to the Class of 2012. EcoSalon caught up with 7 of the stellar selected designers to hear what’s getting them excited about being a part of this fashion-forward program.

Tara St. James of STUDY NY

“What I’m looking forward to most in participating in this program is that it will force me to sit down and really focus on and plan the future of my business. That’s a luxury I haven’t had until now. I also think it will be great for networking with peers and potential mentors.”

Nimet Degirmencioglu of SOHAM DAVE
“We are looking forward to meeting all other talented designers and very knowledgable advisors. We are hoping that through the program we would be able to reach the investors and capital to carry our brand to the next level. Our artisans and our supply chain in India is ready to produce for department stores and we would like to grow the business.”


“I am really excited to participate in this program and take my business to the next level. Having a company that creates high-fashion swimwear with eco-friendly fabrics – and being able to do all of that within NYC – is what gets me up in the morning. I love the mini-MBA style of the program and how focused it is – with sections on marketing and sales, legal questions for startups, and the financial aspects of running a small business. The other really fantastic part is the group of people participating. I have taken a few business and entrepreneurship courses previously, but never with such a strong group of designers as my peers and classmates – we are all at similar levels, ready to take that next step to success, and will be able to support each other and grow together.”

Sarah Canner of VESPERTINE
“I’m most excited for the opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s top teachers and executives and to be able to directly apply the knowledge and experiences they share into my business plan revision and the day-to-day building of Vespertine.”

Thea Grant of BAZZdeGRANT 
“This program will allow us access to experts and teachers of critical areas of our industry that are often overlooked or forgotten over time by so many talented designers…in so-saying, I am most excited to refocus the passion my partner and I have for our work through the lens of a business professional.”

Graciela Fuentes of TIRANA JEWELRY

“I’m a creative type so my dream was to be a designer, not neccesarily a business owner. Over the years I’ve been honing my design skills, but I’ve come to realize that the key to achieve success is the proper balance between design talent and business acumen. I believe DENYC will provide me with essential skills to further develop my brand so I’m ecstatic to be a part of the 2012 class.”

Anjelika Krishna of A.D.O.
“I truly appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Design Entrepreneurs NYC program, and am most excited to meet the mentors and learn from them on how to successfully grow my sustainable business, A.D.O. I am also excited to meet other entrepreneurs and possibly start some collaborative projects.”

A big congratulations to all selected emerging designers. We’re holding onto our hats in anticipation to see what the future holds for all of them…

Kestrel Jenkins

Kestrel Lee Jenkins currently resides in New York City where she writes a weekly column covering the sustainable fashion world.