One of the most powerful and impactful aspects of fashion is being able to build a community of like-minded individuals. And Stitch Fix, an online destination for shopping and styling services, embodies community by providing a platform for users to connect with a roster of style experts to achieve their wardrobe goals.
Last year, Stitch Fix launched Elevate, an annual grant and mentorship program created to support entrepreneurs of color who are building the next wave of apparel and accessories. The inaugural cohort of designers included Diarra Bousso of Diarrablu, Jamela Acheampong of Kahmune, Busayo Olupano of Busayo, Marcus Thomas of Marcus Alexander, Bettina Benson of Chloe Kristyn, and Robin Sirleaf of Sarep + Rose. Each designer was awarded with a $25,000 grant to support the growth of their business, along with eight months of mentorship from the leadership team at Stitch Fix.
During the duration of the program, the six designers also worked to create a collection for Elevate, and now, it’s available for purchase. The assortment offers diverse styles of menswear, womenswear and accessories as each designer presents their distinct perspective.
As a Nigerian-owned brand, Busayo brings playful dresses with prints and textiles created in collaboration with Nigerian artisans. While Diarrablu offers chic blouses in vibrant colors and custom prints. “All my designs are inspired a lot by my culture and background in mathematics,” says Bousso. “I was born in a Senegalese artisan family, so bold prints and vibrant colors were always part of our days.”
The other designers also bring greatness to the mix, like Kahmune’s buttery nude heels, Chloe Kristyn’s blend of elegance and functionality and Marcus Alexander’s sophisticated footwear. Together, they have created an outstanding inaugural collection for Elevate that reflects the immense talent Black designers offer to the market.
Aside from designing a beautiful assortment, each designer has also been able to grow their business in the process. “This opportunity has already catapulted my brand in so many ways,” says Sirleaf. “The way that I think about our future and how to operate has done a complete turnaround.” Stitch Fix has done stellar work by providing the designers with an opportunity, along with guidance to capitalize and sustain their businesses. “I feel like we can do almost anything as long as we’re committed to improving and implementing this advice along the way,” Sirleaf added.
More exciting news: Stitch Fix is continuing the annual Elevate program and are now accepting applications for the next cohort of designers until October 31. Apply now on their website!