We had the good fortune of connecting with Frances Harder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Frances, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have entrepreneurial inbreeding in my genes. Many in my family started their own businesses back in the UK. I started a few other businesses while teaching in the fashion world. Unfortunately, or fortunately they did not pan out due to a number of different reasons. However, each experience involved partnering with the wrong business partners that ruined my drive to move forward. My last leap of faith in 1999 while teaching full time as a professor began out of my realization that further education needed to include business education. I developed a further education class on the business of fashion, which lead to me writing my book Fashion For Profit. This then lead me to leaving my career at Otis college to starting the Fashion Business Incubator (FBI). An educational not for profit 501c3. I took a leap of faith and this time it lead me to a new career and to many very exciting experiences.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
During my time as Founder/President of the Fashion Business Incubator (we changed the name after a couple of years to Fashion Business Incorporated due to the fact we became more than just an incubator when we began to actively develop job training programs). The apparel industry is constantly evolving and this requires more training and educating to adjust to the demands of the changing industry. We were fortunate to get city funding to develop and offer certified job training. This training was mostly connected to the many industry tech demands. During this time I was invited to speak an a number of trade shows which then lead to meeting a representative from the United Nations who invited me to consult to small businesses producing alpaca in Peru then cashmere producers in Nepal. I was also invited by other organization to many different events in other countries. This then opened doors to many other opportunities one of which was to visit China where I spoke in Shanghai at a fashion university. Recently I have been invited to develop online classes for them using my text book Fashion For Profit. Because on my industry experience I am often invited to serve as an industry expert in legal disputes. Often these cases involved copyright, trademark or patent infringements.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
We are very fortunate to live in an area not far from the ocean with many open spaces so the first thing is to take walks/hikes on the trails near us. or to the beach. We enjoy going to Terraria in Palos Verdes Estates to the restaurant over looking the bluffs and the ocean. Or, the Comedy Club in Redondo for some good entertainment. In the summer I love to go to the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theater. Or, we have friends who invite us to go sailing with them which is a great way to relax. Some times we take the boat over to Catalina for a couple of nights. We have so many great places near us. Palm Springs in the winter and Santa Barbara and wine country anytime!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people I am grateful for on my journey. Sandy Bliefer was my partner when founding the Fashion Business Incubator. Sandy had a great vision and she also had many city connections that in turn supported our new venture. The New Mart Building in the L.A. Fashion district donated 5,000 square foot and the Department of Water & Power gave us funds to build out the space into a state of the art fashion incubator. This then opened many doors and introduced me to many other contacts who helped grow our organization. One person I must acknowledge is Rob Greenspan who at that time was CFO of Moss Adams an account firm for the apparel industry. Moss Adams became a major sponsor and Rob became an interictal component to the success of our educational not for profit Many others also have supported the organization. Too many to list.
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My head shot credit Volker Corell