As the world fights inequality in the work places, fashion leaders across the industry are beginning to show support Black-owned businesses. RAISEfashion is one of such brands leading this initiative; with its unique mentorship program.
RAISEfashion was created in July 2020, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction after the murder of George Floyd. Now, more than ever, it's apparent that in most cases, Black creatives do not get the same opportunities as others within the fashion world. Joining the fight against systemic oppression and racial injustice, RAISEfashion seeks to promote Black-owned businesses and Black individuals working in the fashion industry.
The name RAISE is an acronym stands for Respect, Advocate, Inspire, Support, and Empower. The organisation is run by a board of directors consisting of eight fashion industry leaders which includes Cushnie’s CEO, Carly Cushnie; retail executives Roopal Patel, Elizabeth Von der Goltz and Nayla Touma; brand leaders April Henning and Alexa Geovanos; business consultant and executives Nelli Kim and Felita Harris.
Supported by a cast of 70 mentors to date, RAISEfashion is a force to be reckoned with. The organization boasts diverse talent within the industry, spreading expertise across all areas of the fashion business including operations, marketing, product and sales. Its mentors are to be paired with several applicants within the industry, who then offer guidance to startup brands.
Why RAISEfashion is a Game changer
As Carly Cushnie understands it, “The fashion industry can be difficult to access… Our mission is to break down these barriers and open doors to the Black community through strategic mentorship and networking opportunities”
Much of this is very true, as the industry has struggled in recent times to be more inclusive. Because of this, the idea of RAISEfashion being a mentorship program has been welcomed with much enthusiasm, with notable publications like Vogue, BOF, and WWD backing the organization.
The way RAISE is set up, as a mentorship initiative, allows it the flexibility to collaborate with numerous other fashion organizations. RAISE prioritizes mentorship, which can be just as important as funding; and so far, this has paved the way for more and more partnerships.
RAISEfashion’s Notable Partnerships
In addition to its already reputable board of members, RAISEfashion is in close cooperation with Harlem’s Fashion Row, a multi-diverse organization supporting underrepresented designers, run by Brandice Daniel.
RAISE recently partnered with the Anti Racism Fund. This partnership may yet be the most significant, as ARF targets students at four historically black colleges and universities, offering a 10-week internship and grants for Black creatives. Participating colleges will include Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Florida A&M University.
It also shares collaboration with JOOR, a fashion marketplace which will work in tandem with Harlem’s Fashion Row to support a group of 25 founders every six months; showcasing their brands to retail buyers around the world.
How RAISEfashion Program Works
Brands and creatives who are interested in this program are expected to fill out a form on the organisation's website. Within this form, they will detail their needs, as well as their current business situation. Afterwards, individuals and startups will be matched with the appropriate industry experts who would provide guidance.
With RAISEfashion boasting a range of expertise across creative work, logistics, business analytics, marketing, product design, merchandising, sustainability, retailing, etc., there are no limits to what this group can provide.
If you are interested in RAISEfashion’s programs or want to make a donation, please visit the platform for more details.