We envision a self-sustained, design-led, state-of-the-art fashion industry here in Northwest Arkansas. We incubate small batch production in our community by activating our local workforce and providing regional designers with the knowledge and tools needed to produce. Our Director of Sewing Operations and Director of Apparel Education lead extensive sewing and pattern making courses for groups of community members with the end goal being to assist in the production of sewn goods by our local designers. MAKE is our newest initiative and the next step in our efforts to propel our designers forward by bridging the knowledge and resource gap between designing and producing.



Through generous grants from the Tyson Family Foundation, the Arkansas Community Foundation, the Walmart Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, we were able to quickly pivot in the COVID-19 pandemic to the production of fabric face masks for donation to the community. and to expand our small batch manufacturing projects to continue providing sewn goods to the community.



What started as a concept and program-in-the-making was quickly put to the test when we were faced with the pandemic. As a response to COVID-19, we created the Mask Makers Challenge, which quickly activated our network of sewists and designers to join hand in hand in the local production of masks. While the primary need for the program was pressing and undeniable, the program accelerated our long-term vision: to aid designers in their transition from hand-making garments to utilizing a manufacturing process. Our small batch manufacturing programming will focus on the execution and production of designer projects. We will connect designers who are ready to make the transition with local sewists and work directly with our Director of Sewing Operations and Director of Apparel and Textiles. Designers will learn and apply the skill of establishing a market value for their designs, create a cost-effective prototype, and work to have a pattern of their garment made. While we are in the early stages of building out a local manufacturing program and process, we believe it will be revolutionary for budding designers in the Heartland.



In the Spring of 2021 we will launch our first run of designer led, locally produced, retail apparel project. Working with designers from our Emerge Residency program we will work to create prototypes that can be produced within our local community in small runs of 10-50 items, across a variety of sizes and color ways, to provide retail opportunities for emerging designers. We see this as a first step to establishing a true sewn-goods production sector in our community. Incubating design talent alongside the education and training of production talent, we hope to create an ecosystem that is both creatively expansive and financially self-sustaining.