Fashion innovation, education program is moving into old garment factory

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Offline roman

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A Baltimore fashion designer is looking to revive the city's garment industry, and is getting ready to run 200 miles to raise money to support her efforts.

Stacy Stube, the designer behind the Elsa Fitzgerald dress brand, has spearheaded various efforts to create a new thriving hub of fashion-oriented businesses in Baltimore. She has served as the fashion entrepreneur in residence at the University of Baltimore's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, where she launched programming to help provide business training and support for local fashion makers. She is also behind SEW BROMO, an online fashion school that provides educational content and skills trainings for budding business owners.

Now, she is looking to take over space in an abandoned garment factory inside the 1100 Wicomico building in Pigtown, and plotting a pilot to bring entrepreneurs and industry experts together to help grow a new generation of fashion businesses.

The SEW BROMO - Fashion Innovation Hub will support startups by providing education and small-batch production support. Stube hopes the space can serve as a small factory operation, where local and global fashion entrepreneurs can learn about garment manufacturing from the digital space.

The hub will provide fashion entrepreneurs with ample space, tools and support as they navigate everything from learning traditional garment-making skills, to crowdfunding to support production, to online marketing and sales. Stube hopes to get the operation up and running in January. But she will need some funding help to do it.

Stube is turning to crowdfunding to raise the money needed. She has launched a campaign on GoFundMe with a goal of $100,000. In conjunction with the fundraising effort, Stube has committed to run a total of 200 miles around Baltimore's harbor over the course of a week, to help raise awareness and support of her efforts to launch the new factory. She will start her run at Federal Hill on Dec. 31 at 4 a.m.

The $100,000 she hopes to raise will cover about six months worth expenses, including rent and utilities, as well as the costs of buying new machines, cutting tools and more needed to kick off the factory pilot, Stube said.

Local fashion designer Stacy Stube is spearheading an effort to set up a new fashion innovation hub in Pigtown.
Local fashion designer Stacy Stube is spearheading an effort to set up a new fashion innovation hub in Pigtown.

Stube has had a long career working in the luxury fashion sector in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia. In Baltimore, she previously worked as the head of innovation at Fashions Unlimited, the last remaining garment factory from the original Baltimore industry. She came to recognize the value of increasing awareness about the factory environment, and the need to find new approaches to building successful garment businesses that can keep the industry alive.

"We have to create our own new jobs in fashion. Entrepreneurs have to be the ones to take that first step forward," Stube said. "I think we're ready for this new chapter of industry."

In her work with UB and SEW BROMO, Stube interacted with many entrepreneurs who benefitted from the educational programming about the fashion industry, its history, and the various skills involved. She realized that the students who came out of those programs needed space to develop their own products and businesses, and hopes that's what the new SEW BROMO - Fashion Innovation Hub can provide.

Stube had previously intended to set up a mini-factory operation inside Lexington Market, but said the Wicomico space provided a better fit for the project. Because the fourth floor of the building was previously home to a garment factory, it is already equipped to handle a small batch production and distribution operation. The building is also already home to other startup and manufacturing operations that support local entrepreneurs, such as Harbor Designs and Manufacturing LLC and Early Charm Ventures.

Md. Rokanuzzaman Roman
Assistant Registrar &
SA to Honorable Chairman, BoT
Daffodil International University