8/22 Crowdfunding for Fashion Designers (Macy’s Fashion Incubator of S.F.)

Learn how to run a successful fashion apparel crowdfunding campaign from Bay Area entrepreneurs and experts.

WHEN: Thursday, August 22, 2013, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

6:00pm – 6:30pm Networking and FiSF facility tours

6:30pm – 8:30pm Crowdfunding Program

8:30pm – 9:00pm Networking

WHERE: FiSF, 50 O’Farrell St., 7th flr., San Francisco




COST: $25 General admission; $20 students/interns


CONTACT: Call Cheryl Downing at 408-257-1049


Trying to start a fashion business, but just don’t have the money to manufacture your clothing line? Think crowdfunding might be the answer for you, but not sure how to get started? Join us for a panel of entrepreneurs and an Indiegogo rep as they discuss the “do’s” and “don’ts” of running a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfunding allows you to campaign for smaller donations of money, leveraging friends, family and even people you don’t know, in order to help bring your dream into reality.

It is very challenging to raise over $10K using crowdfunding, especially in fashion design, as shown by Kickstarter’s own category statistics. Of Kickstarter’s 1,085 successfully funded fashion projects, only 161 raised between $10K to $20K, while only 147 raised between $20K to $100K. (The majority of Kickstarter’s 635 fashion projects raised under $10K.)

The four fashion designers on our panel have not only raised over $15k, but three of them have achieved the even rarer crowdfunding accomplishment of raising from $48K to over $58K.

  • Sonnet James – over $58K
  • Thread Council – almost $51K
  • Artful Gentleman. – over $48K
  • Sonas Denim – almost $17K

along with Ben Bateman of Indiegogo, who recently assisted with the history-making Ubuntu campaign.

In this session, you’ll hear from a representative of a crowdfunding platform (Indiegogo), as well as from these four fashion designers who have raised money through crowdfunding campaigns on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They will share the ups and downs of running a campaign, the intensity of the campaign process, what they did right, what they would do differently, what happens after the campaign ends, and more.

Our designer panelists’ work represents a broad cross-section of the fashion industry from T-shirts (Thread Council) to denim (Sonas) to play dresses for moms (Sonnett James) to bespoke suits (Artful Gentleman).

We expect this to be a highly interactive session, so bring all the questions you’ve been eager to get answered.

This event is sponsored by The City of San Francisco, Macy’s and FiSF.


FISF is a non-profit incubator committed to turning fashion apparel designers into successful San Francisco entrepreneurs and employers. Each year FISF provides six Designers in Residence with premiere workroom, showroom, classroom and office space at Macy’s offices in downtown San Francisco and offers yearlong business operations training from experts in the San Francisco fashion and economic development communities.

For more information on FISF and to learn how to get involved, visit http://www.fashionincubatorsf.org or


  • Ben Bateman, Campaign Specialist for Design, Technology and Hardware, Indiegogo

    Ben focuses on developing strategies and tactics to help campaigns more effectively raise funds. He has been with Indiegogo for over a year, and has worked with many of Indiegogo’s largest campaigns, such as the Scanadu Scout and the Ubuntu Edge. He has a background in Journalism, and received his B.A. in English from Lewis & Clark College, where he honed his skills and passion for community building and entrepreneurship. Launched in 2008, Indiegogo was the first site to offer a global crowdfunding platform accessible to anyone, and has hosted over 100,000 campaigns funding a wide variety of projects. (http://www.indiegogo.com)

  • Ed Bernstein, CEO and Founder, Thread Council

    Ed has launched companies that did customized apparel for stores nationwide (and was also one of the guys behind Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?). His other team members, Eduardo Del Balso and Fermin Mata, have significant experience in apparel merchandising and e-commerce on a national level. Thread Council is building an “Artist-First” apparel brand, with the main focus on T-shirts. Ironically, the most successful graphic artists are mostly unknown, despite their talent and the millions of merchandise sales they generate for musicians such as Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, and Prince. In the past, these graphic artists were bound by the creative restrictions of the brands they were working for. Thread Council will give the designers the chance to do original work in the genres and cultural areas they are most excited by, as well as facilitate name recognition and greater financial rewards. Kickstarter goal: $50K; Pledged: almost $51K. (http://www.threadcouncil.com; http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bernstein/thread-council-killer-apparel-by-industrys-unsung)

  • Gerry Kelly, Founder, Sonas Denim

    Gerry is an Irish entrepreneur, who came to the U.S. intending to stay a few weeks, after traveling the world. Instead, 13 years later, he is married to a beautiful California girl with a new baby boy. In 2011, Sonas Denim began when Gerry wanted a comfortable, yet sexy, pair of jeans for Burning Man and could not find any. He and his wife, Christine, created the first three pairs. The jeans are a unique patchwork of over 50 individual pieces, which create a curve-hugging, thigh-slimming fit. Their goal is to build the sexiest, best-fitting, and most popular denim brand in the world, which are cruelty-free with a reduced carbon footprint. Legendary supermodel Janice Dickinson supports them because 10% of the net profits on every pair sold is donated to animal welfare. Their ultimate goal is to fund an animal sanctuary in the S.F. Bay Area. Indiegogo flexible funding goal: $20K. Final: almost $17K. (http://www.sonasdenim.com; http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sonas-san-francisco)

  • Whitney Lundeen, Founder, Sonnet James

    Whitney got hooked on fashion while interning for a wedding dress designer in Manhattan when she was 20. However, her career began by working at an architectural firm, followed by owning her own interior design firm, Match Interiors. As a mom of two active boys, she could not find clothes designed to be fashionable, indestructible and comfortable. In February 2013, she launched Sonnet James, an online boutique that features 12 original “play dresses for playful moms.” Whitney sketches and pattern-drafts the dresses she designs–inspired by her love of fashion, her passion for motherhood, and her search for simplicity and comfort in everyday life. Kickstarter goal: $48K. Final: over $58K. (http://www.sonnetjames.com; http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1378041729/sonnet-james-play-dresses-for-playful-moms?ref=live)

  • Jake Wall, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Artful Gentleman., and FiSF Designer-in-Residence

    In 2010, on a trip to Hong Kong, Jake had a career epiphany after having a classic bespoke suit made. Soon after, he founded Artful Gentleman., a luxury apparel company that specializes in customized made-to-measure fine suiting, tailored shirts, separates and tuxedos for ALL. Jake’s mission is to inspire others to express themselves through a well-fitted, stylish wardrobe. He has creatively used his marketing and business development background to form strategic partnerships, as well as get publicity through press and events in 2013, such as: suits worn by The Lumineers to the Grammy Awards; style curation for a Chivas Regal “Brotherhood” lifestyle event; and sponsor for “SUIT UP for EQUALITY: A Benefit for Human Rights Campaign” which is a fundraiser and marriage equality celebration occurring in August. Kickstarter goal: $30K. Final: over $48K. (http://www.artfulgentleman.com; http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1853169560/ag-redefining-custom-suiting-shirting-for-all-life)

  • Moderator: Cheryl Downing, President, Cheryl Downing & Associates

    Cheryl is a small business marketing and crowdfunding consultant. She advises and coaches small business startups and product developers/inventors how to grow their businesses quickly, specializing in raising money through crowdfunding. Cheryl spent the early part of her career in corporate software product development and marketing. Since 2001, Cheryl has volunteered as an SBA marketing trainer and been an active supporter of the Inventors Alliance association. (http://www.cheryldowning.com)

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