Arlene Kaye, new to Buffalo Mini Maker Faire, is coming to show the art and science of fashion through her business, FASHION LAB NY. With extensive experience and knowledge in the fashion industry, we were honored to have her answer some questions and provide advice for future makers.
- Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an inventor/maker?
My passion for design started when I was six, making clothes by hand for my dolls, and myself. Once I got a sewing machine there was no stopping me. While my high school friends were shopping at the mall, I was at the fabric store designing something that would express my individuality and uniqueness. I continued following my passion by attending Philadelphia University and majoring in Textile Design. Now, a 30-year veteran in the fashion industry, I have led design, product development and merchandising for global brands including New Era Cap, Life is good, Timberland and Oshkosh B’Gosh. I started FASHION LAB NY in 2016 to inspire and mentor the next generation to develop their creative talents as it applies to fashion and sewing.
- What is the first thing a new inventor/maker should consider?
First they need a vision and the willingness to follow their passion. Learning the skills and having the right tools will ensure their success. But it is not a one shot deal. They need to continue practicing and challenging themselves to fine-tune their skills. Our Labs and Workshops offer kids 7 – 17 the opportunity to discover, explore and invent their vision of fashion. Our programs are skill based while continuing to challenge our students to learn new techniques.
- Are you selling products? What sorts of licensing/patents do you have in place?
FASHION LAB NY, represents the opportunity to experiment creatively and invent through the Art and Science of Fashion. The programs offered at FLNY provide the environment and resources for students to express their own unique style with confidence, while having fun. FLNY offers Labs, Workshops and Summer Camps that teach the Fashion Design Process including, but not limited to Sewing, Sketching (Illustration), Trend Spotting and Creating your own Fashion Brand.
- What has been your greatest success in business?
My greatest success so far at FASHION LAB NY has been seeing a child pick up the skill of sewing or creating their own fashion brand and witnessing the joy they experience in knowing they have translated their vision into something tangible. Inspiring them to define…what is Fashion?
- What advice would you offer fellow inventors/makers who are in the beginning stages of development?
I will speak here to starting a new business. Although we all know it will not happen overnight, it is hard to accept that reality in the beginning. Even with years of working for major brands, I naively thought I would tell people about this incredible idea I had for FASHION LAB NY and about my experiences, and students would sign up. Guess what – that didn’t happen. I learned quickly how important it was to create a following and a network. But it takes time. So patience is also extremely necessary.
You must have a plan – both a financial and business outline. You need to have your financial ducks in a row, otherwise you will worry too much about the finances and that will zap all of your creative energy. Also, today Marketing is critical. Get up to speed on all forms of social media and use it! Know who your customer is and how to reach them. And most of all, surround yourself with people that support you and your idea. A strong network is worth building and maintaining.
Be sure to check out more of FASHION LAB NY on their Website, Facebook and Instagram page! And don’t miss Arlene at Buffalo Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, May 20th where you are encouraged to bring a used, clean T-shirt – (the softer the better!) for participants to up-cycle into a scarf and accessories and to try your hand at making a trendy choker.