Fascinating People…An Interview with Frances Harder

Meet Frances Harder, internationally known speaker, author, and the President and Founder of Fashion Business Incorporated (FBI), a non-profit organization which provides business development and job retraining to the fashion industry.  Frances also has her own consulting firm, Apparel Business Consulting, and has published a series of books dealing with starting a fashion business, including the very popular “Fashion For Profit”.

I was able to catch up with Frances via telephone. Here’s what we talked about.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how you began your career and the path you took to finally develop FBI?

A. I’m originally from England. My mother was a designer, my uncle had a factory in Nottingham, my aunt had a couture store and my grandmother was a lace maker in Nottingham.  My father was a chemist who worked with dyes and textiles, so my destiny seemed pretty obvious. I went to Art College for four years, and graduated in fashion. In my last year at college I interned and this lead to my first design job.  Within that first year I was invited back to teach at the art college, and learned the parallel between being an educator and a designer.

Q. I believe FBI began in 1999. As a non-profit how has it been able to continue to grow?

A. While we receive some grants, and donations, we depend on membership fees, and seminar fees. We have also had some very generous supporters including the owners  of the buildings we have been fortunate to have been housed in.

Q. Your group used to be called Fashion Business Incubator. Can you explain what that means? What prompted it to change?

A.  An incubator grows and nurtures new businesses. The name changed as it became clear that there was a need for more than just entrepreneurial training. We have expanded to include certified incumbent workers training and an additional certified job training program for displaced workers.  It has gradually grown to became more of an incorporation of the whole industry.

Q. Of all the classes that FBI offers, which are the most in demand?

A. That would be the basics about “How to Start Your Fashion Business”,  Photoshop and Illustrator, specific to the fashion industry. Also, workshops on getting ready for, and navigating markets  are popular.

Q. You travel internationally and get a chance to view the various marketplaces. Do you find similar philosophies about fashion throughout the fashion community?

A. I think everyone has their own view of what is fashionable. Trends change from place to place abroad just as they do in the USA. Look at the differences, for instance, in the trends in New York vs. Los Angeles.

Q. You’ve just returned from Australia. During your presentations there, what questions were you asked most? Are the same questions generally asked most in the majority of your Q & A’s?

A. Mostly they want to know what it takes to get into the American marketplace. Which trade shows are most important, where they should look first for sales and distribution?

Q. You’ve been a wonderful supporter of Phoenix Fashion Week, and your workshops and seminars are among our most popular. Why did you make the decision to give your time to helping facilitate the growth of this small but growing market?

A. When I met Brian Hill, Executive Director of Phoenix Fashion Week, I was impressed by his vision and passion for growing the industry.

Thank you, Frances.

For more information on Frances Harder, FBI, or her books, visit www.fashionbizinc.org & www.fashionforprofit.com.  The Fashion Business Inc. office is located in the California Market Center, 110 E 9th St., Suite A-786, Los Angeles, CA 90079. 213-892-1669. Check the Phoenix Fashion Week website for information on upcoming events and workshops presented by Frances Harder. www.phoenixfashionweek.com.

Article by Liz Riley for Phoenix Fashion Week.

The resource for “All Things Fashionable”


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