Queensland’s only fashion-based startup accelerator is aiming to help founders take their ideas to the next level and juggle the role of being both a creative and an entrepreneur.
QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) CEO Anna Rooke is dedicated to empowering creative founders through accelerator programs and access to early-stage capital.
“For me it’s about seeing creative entrepreneurs realise their vision,” Rooke tells StartupSmart.
Launching in February 2016, the Fashion Accelerator will take startup founders through a highly intensive program to develop their product, design range, brand, business strategy and marketing.
Most applicants will have already achieved a qualification in fashion or similar but lack the business prowess to go further.
In addition to learning how to launch their labels, Rooke says founders must learn “how [they’re] going to make money”.
“It really gives founders an intensive experience to look at critical business components that will take you through to market to attract customers and stockists,” she says.
Rooke says the accelerator will require a high level of energy and readiness to launch into group work, mentoring and long hours developing your line.
“It’s just as intense as a tech accelerator,” she says.
In selecting applicants, Rooke says they will be looking for founders willing to fully commit to growing their startups during the five-month program.
“We’re looking for that passion, clear business vision and something new in the fashion industry,” she says.
Rooke’s tip for applicants: research your label’s landscape and present something that has a clear value proposition.
“Hopefully we might be able to discover the next Sass & Bide,” she says.
Christie Millinery founder and designer Christie Murray has been through many of CEA’s accelerator programs.
“The best thing I got was advice and mentoring,” Murray tells StartupSmart.
When she started the course, Murray had no idea where to begin but today she runs a successful high-end fashion business.
The accelerator put Murray in touch with luxury wholesalers and well-known industry professionals to help her build her creative business.
Fashion is one of the most difficult industries for local founders to crack, says Rooke, because of challenges such as reaching global markets and working out supply chains with manufacturing going offshore.
She says programs like CEA’s Fashion Accelerator, which are limited across the country, are critical to helping founders take their products to the next level.
Without this, Rooke believes the industry faces a real risk.
“We might not have the next generation of amazing fashion industries,” she says.
Applications for the accelerator close on Friday.