Regina Weir and Rosa Thurnher argue the same point: Atlanta should be a major fashion hub. As evidence they point to the bustling international airport, the city's rich art scene, and creative wellsprings like SCAD-Atlanta. And yet, for many local designers New York still beckons.
Eager to help build a strong fashion community in the South, in 2013 Weir and Thurnher (both industry pros with credits in editorial styling and textile manufacturing) launched Factory Girls—a fashion incubator housed in a 3,500 square feet warehouse just outside the city.
Here budding designers have access to affordable workspace, industrial sewing equipment and other supplies, sales and marketing consulting, and help with manufacturing to get sketches turned into wearable, buyable clothes. “I think Atlanta has what it takes to become a fashion powerhouse." Weir says. "If we can keep people here and get them what they need to build a business, we can make that happen."
Designers can choose from day passes and annual memberships, which start at $100. Those committed to pursuing the craft full-time, can apply for one of the four in-residence positions, which grants fashion hopefuls with workspace and discounts on workshops and production costs. Not blessed with sewing skills? Factory girls also offers a solid roster of sewing classes that are open to the public.
If you can't get to Chamblee, check out the incubator's Showroom Ampersand in Buckhead to see works by former and current in-residence designers like Megan Huntz and Abbey Glass.
How does it go? If you build it they will come. Read about more projects like Factory Girls in our 50 People Who Are Changing the South in 2015 story.