Staying Curious podcast episode 014: Educate, incubate and accelerate

Join Staying Curious as we talk to Nina about her background, her experience as the Director of the Austin Community College’s (ACC) Fashion Incubator and the trends she sees gaining the most traction with fashion companies today.

Drawing on her experience designing for the likes of American Eagle Outfitters, Rebecca Taylor or H by Halston, Nina Means is determined to help those just starting out in the industry get their feet under them.

Not only is she imparting her knowledge, but through her work at a fashion incubator in Austin, she hopes to help these new designers or companies start out on the right foot with technology, sustainability efforts and entrepreneurial knowledge to succeed for the long term.


Incubator and Accelerator

Nina Means, Director of the ACC Fashion Incubator

To learn more about how Nina creates a safe community for fashion designers to flourish in the industry follow her:
Website | LinkedIn

The ACC Fashion Incubator is just one arm of the program, and primarily aims to provide a yearlong tutorial to those who are new to the industry and/or just starting their companies.

Students in this program get the chance to meet with industry professionals, hone their business acumen, learn valuable lessons from those already in the industry and focus their energy on building capital and establishing their brand.

The ACC Fashion Accelerator on the other hand is a program geared towards those who are a little more seasoned in their fashion journey and built to help add fuel to their fire.

This even includes some international collaborations such as one recently with companies from Egypt. Austin based fashion brands collaborated with Egyptian companies for a 16-week program that helped them refine their collections, engage in a travel exchange, and have a chance to implement what they have learned throughout.


Getting an Early Start

Bringing the experience Nina had with designing and working in the New York fashion scene back to Austin is an important element to her work. Seeing the lack of resources designers had away from the fashion hub of New York helped strengthen her motivation to impart resources, mentorship and support for designers across all levels within her local community.

As a city, Austin has really been supportive of creating a fashion center in the local area. The “fashion hill” as Nina says, where they saw the opportunity and local talent and invested heavily in technology and resources to help this industry flourish.

Empowering tech-enabled solutions for product commercialization is another passion of Nina’s, and she firmly believes that technology can help solve some of the industry’s greatest problems—such as sustainability.

As such, the work Nina does with these programs isn’t just to help brands become profitable, but for them to also become long lasting and sustainable. Giving them the tools, technology and know-how at an early stage in their career helps position them to implement industry trends early on and help them “work smarter, not harder.”

Things like technology, or business sustainability efforts, quality and efficiency metrics and methods to boost scalability while also driving down costs are all essential components of the ACC programs.

If entrepreneurs are prepared to face these challenges from the get-go, and are mentored by such inspiring and well-rounded professionals, it isn’t hard to see the Austin fashion scene growing in the years to come.