Threading Milwaukee’s Creatives Together
The MKE Fashion Incubator, downtown Milwaukee’s latest business, is helping to bolster retail one stitch at a time. Located on the 3rd floor at 608 N. Broadway and led by local entrepreneur Terry Schaefer, the creative hub focuses on fashion design resources and support services to foster industry growth, attract talent and expand local opportunities for designers.
Through the support of property owners Don & Mary Arenson and others who participated in focus groups coordinated by Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, as well as a Kiva Zip loan, Schaefer was able to open the Incubator’s doors on March 1st. Currently, the fashion hub offers co-working space, workshops, open sewing time and mentoring for all skill levels. Five incubation stations, 14 sewing machines and four sergers make up the manufacturing area with additional equipment stations planned.
Schaefer has also jump-started private lessons, and weekend and evening classes, including Begin to Sew, Alterations, and Learn to Use a Serger. Classes will continue to grow and diversify with interest.
The MKE Fashion Incubator is one of Milwaukee’s first recipients of the Kiva Zip loan program. The crowd-funded model offers 0% interest loans, up to $5,000, to entrepreneurs who may otherwise not qualify for traditional loans. Schaefer was funded 100% in under a week and was able to utilize the funds to complete the Incubator’s website and purchase necessary sewing equipment.
The MKE Fashion Incubator is a key link in connecting local fashion designers to the marketplace. Check out the MKE Fashion Incubator’s Facebook page or visit the website at www.mkefashionincubator.com for a complete list of easy-to-schedule classes and open sewing times. More information on the Kiva Zip loan program can be found at www.kiva.org/milwaukee.