Nova Fashion Incubator is living la mode local

The new Nova Fashion Incubator aims to cultivate a bustling garment industry in Nova Scotia

Gabby Peyton

Spring Cleaning Pop Up used clothing sale
Saturday, May 9
Nova Fashion Incubator, 1531 Grafton Street suite 301

Want to be the next Alexander Wang? Well don't pack your bags for New York yet—there's a place in Halifax to help you thread those duds and get them on the racks, and they'll teach you how to do payroll too. At the Nova Fashion Incubator (1531 Grafton Street), it's about the details. From the smallest stitch of a hem to the last line of an invoice; the space is dedicated to helping fashion designers grow their businesses from a small nest egg to an empire, at home.

Co-executive directors Amanda Kincaid and Laura Corkum officially opened the doors to their not-for-profit in January, joining forces from two different runways. After graduating from the Centre for Arts and Technology (now da Vinci College) in 2013, Corkum wanted a career in fashion, but didn't want to leave Nova Scotia. "There's no next step in Halifax," she says. For anyone in the industry, the normal move is to Toronto or New York, but growing the garment industry at home—or close to it, Corkum grew up in Cape Breton—was important to her. That's when her teacher introduced her to Kincaid, publisher of Line.

"I was seeing the same people doing the same things," says Kincaid, who was reporting on a sluggish fashion industry that received little support. The next move for her was to put the magazine down for a nap and help designers grow businesses instead of writing about them.

At the incubator, the focus is on building industry from a collection—many designers who graduate from NSCAD, da Vinci College or Dalhousie's costume program don't know the business side or don't have the means to do it. The 1,600-square-foot incubator includes design and event space, industrial equipment and hosts regular workshops lead by local store owners, designers and business managers—from marketing communication to pattern grading, the incubator offers a wealth of knowledge to local designers. There is also a Sponsor a Designer program for those who can't afford the monthly membership.

The industrious duo is dedicated to keeping the talent homegrown (and growing) here in the Maritimes. With help from CEED and Futurpreneur—there is no government funding for this sector—they aim to help grow the garment industry here and have aspirations for more machinery so they can manufacture and dye fabrics on their own instead of importing supplies. Currently, they offer custom tailoring services and have technical designer James Awmack working out of the space.

There's lots strutting down the runway on Grafton Street in the upcoming weeks: The bookkeeping and tax workshop on May 4 helps with the boring number stuff, while the Spring Cleanup Pop-up on May 9 helps to empty your closet (and fill it right back up again). Additionally, the Nova Fashion Incubator has its grand opening planned for the end of May.

Corkum says they want to make Halifax a hub for fashion "not only to keep designers here, but bring designers here."

Though there are incubators in larger city, they view their space as more welcoming than jumping into the shark tanks of New York or Toronto. Corkum sees them as "the soft little cushion after school."

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