Philadelphia University alumna Amanda Stearns is one of five designers in the Macy’s Philadelphia Fashion Incubator class of 2015. Her brand, Stearn’s and Co., is an eco-friendly, luxury men’s knitwear line.
The year-long program, headquartered in Macy’s Center City store, began March 1 and kicked off with an intensive two-week business boot camp. Each subsequent focuses on one main business topic.
Elissa Bloom, the executor director of the Fashion Incubator wanted the program to touch on issues she encountered when she was starting out as a young designer. She quickly learned that having a quality product wasn’t enough. Getting your brand exposure was equally important.
She wants the class to look past the design of their lines and think about how to turn it into a scalable and sustainable business.
Each designer is paired with an industry mentor through the program. Bloom says that allows them to “have another sounding board outside of the group meetings.”
The class has access to graphic designers, lawyers, and office hours with Wharton professors.
Stearns says she is excited about the opportunity to delve into the business side of design.
“A lot of it is learning how to talk to people,” says Stearns. “Costing is a big thing as well, working backwards, finding out where you want to stand in the market and work back from that.”
The Incubator was conceived in 2012. Bloom says it was a natural fit in a city with four major design schools.
“Designers are graduating and there are no incentives or resources for starting businesses and wanting to stay in Philadelphia. We saw the void in the city,” says Bloom.
Stearns is hoping to use the tools that the program provides to begin selling her brand in her own online store. Five years from now, she hopes to be opening her own storefront.