Staying Curious podcast episode 003: Angela Johnson, Designer and Co-Founder of FABRIC

Who could have imagined even a decade ago an online digital road map to guide aspiring “apparel entrepreneurs” through the hundreds of steps it takes to build a startup brand? But that’s exactly what Aimee Heuschkel’s guest on this episode of The Staying Curious Podcast is offering.

Online digital road map to guide aspiring “apparel entrepreneurs” through the hundreds of steps it takes to build a startup brand

Angela Johnson, co-founder of FABRIC (Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center) in Tempe, AZ, shares her thoughts on the incredibly complex processes associated with design development, manufacturing, branding and marketing fashion items. The barrier to entry has traditionally been high, with only those who could afford costly overseas production getting a foothold – an option that in any case often ends in frustration and wasted resources.  

Queue the Apparel Entrepreneur Roadmap, an amazing resource available to aspiring designers without regard to geography or budget. Thanks to scholarship opportunities and FABRIC’s nonprofit model, aspiring creators have at their fingertips endless resources, access to expert advice, guidelines, templates for contracts and budgets …

Angela shares thoughts on where the industry as a whole is headed as well as top dos and don’ts for “apparel entrepreneurs.” With her diverse career experience and the supportive community she has helped to ignite, Angela is opening up the fashion industry to a new breed of digital designers who are creating a sustainable, exciting alternative to the high production, low cost and quality manufacturing narrative whose time has passed.  

Angela Johnson, Designer and Co-Founder of FABRIC

  • [01:48] About Angela’s personal and professional trajectory, including how she has evolved the fashion industry in Arizona by establishing FABRIC, the non-profit incubator she co-founded to provide designers and independent brands a community, state-of-the art technology and industry expertise. 

  • [07:45] About the complementary experience and balance of skill sets that co-founder Sherri Barry brought to FABRIC -- a partnership that took the incubator to a next level. 

A unique design/production and roadmap software

  • [08:57] The vision behind the incubator as a central clearinghouse for resources, support and community among designers in Arizona (and beyond). 

  • [11:00] Angela walks us through the unique design/production software that she has created and offers via scholarships to young “apparel entrepreneurs.” They can log in and find step-by-step guidance through any given stage of the process, including lessons, timelines, vendors, contracts and expert mentoring.  

  • [16:35] What it is exactly that’s so revolutionary about Angela’s fashion roadmap software, which features the kind of granular detail necessary to walk even the least experienced of new “apparel entrepreneurs” through the extremely complicated process.  

  • [22:50] What the introduction of new technologies has done to accelerate the fashion design and production process. Example: Time-consuming, costly pattern renderings are being replaced by online 3D images that can be digitally stitched and altered instantly. 

Top Three Tips for Designers

  •  [24:30] Angela’s Top Three Tips for Designers Looking to Launch: 

  1. - Have ample financial resources to stay afloat and underwrite essentials. 
  2. - Start out with no more than one to three core pieces; niche items that can recognizably fill a need or solve a problem.   
  3. - Become an expert on manufacturing and the whole process you’re about to undertake. Being your own production manager is a huge money-saver!  
  • [27:17] The one thing Angela wants you NOT to do: Turn your enterprise over to an overseas manufacturer that will assume control, drain resources and retain IP. 

  • [29:36] Angela gets out her crystal ball: She believes the future of the fashion industry lies with technology and its ability to level the playing field for independent, small-scale designers who will be able to compete with high-quality, small-batch, bespoke offerings. 

FABRIC, Fashion incubator and business accelerator, relies on Lectra’s on-demand microfactory for domestic manufacturing

Gerber Innovation Center features the Gerber Microfactory which is a fully connected solution that enables customized, made-to-measure and on-demand production.