[Editor's note: we're kicking off a new series of blog posts (clever name pending) profiling groups from past Punch Bowl Funds, highlighting their current projects—especially any crowdfunding they might be undertaking. And we're excited to welcome Crystal Germond to the Opus Affair blog as the author of this series.]
Remember the lovely Amanda Curtis and Gemma Sole? You might have made their acquaintance back in May, when their company 19th Amendment participated in the Punch Bowl Fund. The Boston-based virtual showroom takes their slogan, “Democratizing Fashion,” seriously. Not only do they provide a “platform and portfolio tool for fashion designers to showcase their work” but we, the consumers, can vote on designs and provide feedback as well as purchase exclusive, wearable works of art!
Well...almost. See, they need our help to get this operation off the ground. After nine months of “stiletto strapping” (good one, Amanda) and a ton of community support 19th Amendment has launched an Indigogo campaign to crowd source the funds they need to start selling and manufacturing American (/Boston) made and designed wearable pieces of art like this, this, this, and this.
We caught up with co-founder Amanda Curtis to discuss what 19th Amendment has been up to since Opus Affair and talk both about the crowdsourcing campaign and what the future may hold (hint: may or may not include “flash fashion shows” in and around Boston—g’ah!):
What was the experience of participating in the Punch Bowl Fund like?
It was great- we met so many amazing people. There were classical musicians who talked about helping us put on runway shows with live music and visual artists who gave us design ideas. It was a really collaborative environment. Sometimes when starting your own company you can get boxed into your own sphere so it was nice to be in the same genre but get a different twist on things.
Since May you’ve launched your Indigogo campaign—why this an important step for 19th Amendment?
It’s another way for us to reach out to people and tell them about our mission—what we’re doing but more importantly why we’re doing it. We’re helping young designers break into the fashion industry and helping them manufacture here in the US, which in turn helps grow US manufacturing and creates jobs. We also want to show people that fashion can be very inclusive, rather than exclusive (as its usually perceived to be).
Speaking of, do you reach out to the designers or do they contact you?
Back in April we put out a casting call for designers and had about thirty or so designers respond. It hasn’t been a hard ask—there’s a 50% dropout rate in the industry so there’s a bunch who just need this extra help—the manufacturing, marketing, and business side of things. Since that’s what we’re providing a lot of designers have reached out to us- including Project Runway alums, which has been amazing! There’s a real need for what we’re doing.
And what about from the consumer side—what will be in store for people who support the funding campaign?
Every little bit helps- for as little as $19 you can get little bonuses like a travel sewing kit. The great thing about what we’re doing is that you can pre-purchase the designs before they are even on the website. You’re really directly supporting independent designers.
What’s the future of 19th Amendment—why is this something consumers can keep turning to?
19th Amendment will be a really engaging consumer experience. Each designer gets their own virtual design studio so they can upload videos, talk about what they did in the studio that day, their inspiration etc. And the consumer can give their critique and even email the designer to say “I really like that you’re going in that direction” or “I like what you’re working on today but change this piece up.” That way the designers are in touch with what their customer wants. You can go on each day and see what your favorite designers are up to and maybe purchase something or just save something you really like.
Overall, we’d like people to continue to support the arts in their day to day. There a lot happening in Boston and a lot more that could happen. Fashion really is an artform and together we can change this industry.
(What’s that? No, I’m not tearing up, that’s just firework dust in my eyes). So where do we sign, er, click?