Meet FIDM Fashion Design Graduate Angela Johnson, Co-Founder of Arizona Fashion Incubator FABRIC
Three years ago, with nearly three decades of experience in the fashion industry, FIDM Fashion Design Grad Angela Johnson co-founded FABRIC, the Fashion And Business Resource Innovation Center, with Sherri Barry, creating a solution for Arizona apparel entrepreneurs that is now attracting designers nationwide.
Angela launched her fashion career in Los Angeles in the 1990s. After working as a production manager, designer, and brand owner for ten years, she relocated to Phoenix, Arizona to be near family. For the next two decades, she built a fashion community in Arizona, mentoring, consulting and teaching emerging designers how to manage the complex design development and manufacturing process, which led to the birth of FABRIC.
Angela Credits FIDM
Education is the backbone to the FABRIC model and Angela credits everything she teaches to what she learned at FIDM and her on-the-job experience in manufacturing she gained when the FIDM Career Center helped her find her first job in the industry. Angela has remained passionate about fashion and education, providing others with the opportunity to learn more about the industry by offering classes and workshops, some at no cost to the community.
FIDM College Representative Catherine Moore leads free workshops at FABRIC, including “The Future is Now, Social, Digital and New Media Marketing” and “Creativity, Business Trends and Your Career.”
The center offers high school tours which allow students the opportunity to learn about creative industry careers, right in their own backyard. They collaborate with the East Valley Institute of Technology’s Fashion Program and the Cinderella Affair project to provide prom attire for those who could otherwise not afford it.
Dedicated to giving back and networking, FABRIC once partnered with FIDM Fashion Club on an event with FIDM College Representatives in Arizona, which included a panel of alumni who shared their stories and gave advice.
FABRIC has been described as the nation’s most robust and inclusive fashion incubator. Inside this 26,000 square foot, Arizona-based campus, an apparel entrepreneur can find everything they would need to start a brand, design their products, manufacture with no-minimums, and get their designs to market.
In the three years since opening FABRIC, over 450 apparel entrepreneurs have been helped and over $1.7M in free and discounted programs and services have been donated to the community. The impact of FABRIC continues to expand. Responding to Community Needs During Pandemic
FABRIC has been quick to respond to the needs of the community in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, redirecting their efforts to manufacture safe and effective PPE (personal protective equipment), including medical quality gowns and masks. They’ve been working around the clock in an effort to meet FDA and government-regulated standards for the safety of healthcare providers. The current focus is on reusable isolation gowns. FABRIC has received a $25,000 grant to train their team on FDA protocols and certification.
Helping Emerging Brands
With hundreds of different services, this incubator is removing obstacles for emerging brands so they can produce niche sewn products sustainably and domestically using innovative technology. They provide pattern making, design development, tech packs, samples, consulting, classes, branding and marketing services, photography, videography, studio/offices, a runway, a hair salon, makeup room, wholesale fabric sourcing, no-minimum manufacturing of nearly any type of sewn product, industry news, a free industry sourcing directory, and much more.
FABRIC is based inside of the City of Tempe Arizona’s former performing arts center. The support of the city allows FABRIC to offer its services at below market rates and select designers are financially supported through many of these services through a Designer in Residence program provided by FABRIC’s 501-c3 non-profit. FABRIC is a combination of a city, a non-profit, for-profit, and a community collaborating to solve a world-wide problem.
The problem FABRIC aims to solve is a sustainability and supply chain issue that is a result of offshore overproduction, a lack of transparency, and unscrupulous labor practices. While the world’s fast fashion brands are filling landfills or even burning excess unsold inventory due to over production of millions of unsold garments, emerging designers who make niche products need low-minimum, domestic resources that will allow them to sustainably make sewn products on demand and without waste.
In The News
This award-winning incubator has been featured in hundreds of publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Phoenix Business Journal, and Frontdoors. It has been recognized by Congressman Greg Stanton for “supporting small businesses, innovation, and sustainability” as well as Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell for “turning fashion dreams into thriving small businesses”. Its programs have earned the Tempe Business Community Impact Award, the ASU President’s Sustainability Award, and the Tempe Mayor’s Disability Award among others.
Arizona’s Sixth “C”
FABRIC is growing and is poised to establish a new, sustainable, and innovative industry for Arizona, making “Clothing” the state’s sixth “C,” after Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, and Climate.