Custom Collaborative
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About

Custom collaborative...

is a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program that trains and supports low-income women, especially immigrant women, to launch viable apparel careers and businesses. By learning the standard techniques and ethical business practices of the garment industry, our clients professionalize their sewing and design skills, overcome barriers to employment, and ultimately, change the economics of the apparel industry.

 

What We Do

CC teaches women to create and sell high-quality and sustainably sourced made- to-measure garments, enabling them to support themselves and to meet other women’s need for clothing that actually fits. CC customers find a valuable alternative to the “fast fashion” that exploits people and the environment, while trainees and graduates receive support for their development and entrepreneurial endeavors.

 
 
 
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Programs

 

TRAINING

Custom Collaborative's comprehensive training program covers the art, craft, technique, and business of clothing. Our 3rd 14-week training cohort began in November.  We are creating a network of skilled professionals and cultivating a customer base to extend Custom Collaborative's social and economic impact.

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Incubator space

Custom Collaborative offers management consulting, mentorship, technical assistance, advanced training, and professional equipment to participants who have completed the training program and to others in the garment industry. Our goal is to maximize the opportunity to create jobs and strengthen local economies.

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worker owned cooperative

A worker-owned sewn-goods cooperative comprised of Custom Collaborative graduates. We accept sample and contract manufacturing orders of 1 - 200 pieces. We sell made-to-measure clothes to individual clients.

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TEAM 

staff

Ruth Conner Veteran promotional writer Ruth Conner has served more than 100 organizations—from Fortune 50s to nonprofit start-ups—while helping others learn to write competently as a community college adjunct professor of English Composition. Today Ruth is privileged to deploy her skills in the cause of expanding economic and social opportunity through her support of Custom Collaborative’s communications initiatives.

Ruth Conner

Veteran promotional writer Ruth Conner has served more than 100 organizations—from Fortune 50s to nonprofit start-ups—while helping others learn to write competently as a community college adjunct professor of English Composition. Today Ruth is privileged to deploy her skills in the cause of expanding economic and social opportunity through her support of Custom Collaborative’s communications initiatives.

Ngozi Okaro Ngozi, Executive Director, is as an advocate for socioeconomic justice.  Tall since birth, she understands the challenges facing women who love nice clothes but whose bodies do not conform to ready-to-wear’s template—which represents the  majority of US clothing buyers.  Ngozi aims to serve two constituencies, meeting both the need of fashion-industry workers for fair compensation and the demand of thoughtful consumers for quality clothes.

Ngozi Okaro

Ngozi, Executive Director, is as an advocate for socioeconomic justice.  Tall since birth, she understands the challenges facing women who love nice clothes but whose bodies do not conform to ready-to-wear’s template—which represents the  majority of US clothing buyers.  Ngozi aims to serve two constituencies, meeting both the need of fashion-industry workers for fair compensation and the demand of thoughtful consumers for quality clothes.

Michael Ben Pinpin Ben is Custom Collaborative's Production Coordinator. Before joining us, Ben was founding Creative Director of Mood Fabrics "Mood U School". He graduated from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and is enrolled in the Production Management program at FIT.

Michael Ben Pinpin

Ben is Custom Collaborative's Production Coordinator. Before joining us, Ben was founding Creative Director of Mood Fabrics "Mood U School". He graduated from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and is enrolled in the Production Management program at FIT.

BOARD MEMBERS

Deborah Chay, PhD Deborah is a management consultant focused on the intersections of philanthropy and other forms of mission-oriented capital. She assists individuals and organizations develop and deploy their cultural and philanthropic capital for greater total impact. Deborah has special expertise in race and gender issues, along with extensive practical experience creating platforms and pathways for donors, investors, and advocates to achieve shared social purpose objectives together. Deborah has launched and directed program initiatives at Duke University and Japan Society among others.  

Deborah Chay, PhD

Deborah is a management consultant focused on the intersections of philanthropy and other forms of mission-oriented capital. She assists individuals and organizations develop and deploy their cultural and philanthropic capital for greater total impact. Deborah has special expertise in race and gender issues, along with extensive practical experience creating platforms and pathways for donors, investors, and advocates to achieve shared social purpose objectives together. Deborah has launched and directed program initiatives at Duke University and Japan Society among others.

 

Suwha Hong, JD Suwha Hong is an Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer with extensive experience in the fashion industry.  She has founded and run fashion brands (s u w h a, HEUCY), as well as headed design teams for established national brands (Cynthia Steffe, H Halston).  Suwha is focused on championing sustainable and innovative practices in the fashion industry.  She serves as Senior Advisor to UNIFORM, a Public Benefit Corporation focused on responsible production in Africa.  Prior to following her passion in fashion, Suwha was a corporate litigator at WilmerHale LLP and Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

Suwha Hong, JD

Suwha Hong is an Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer with extensive experience in the fashion industry.  She has founded and run fashion brands (s u w h a, HEUCY), as well as headed design teams for established national brands (Cynthia Steffe, H Halston).  Suwha is focused on championing sustainable and innovative practices in the fashion industry.  She serves as Senior Advisor to UNIFORM, a Public Benefit Corporation focused on responsible production in Africa.  Prior to following her passion in fashion, Suwha was a corporate litigator at WilmerHale LLP and Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP.

Michele Long, MS Michele is the Director of Corporate Communications at Triumph Group. Her professional expertise includes communications and marketing, employee engagement, and global transformation and change management initiatives,Michele is a native New Yorker living in Philadelphia with her husband and their two daughters.

Michele Long, MS

Michele is the Director of Corporate Communications at Triumph Group. Her professional expertise includes communications and marketing, employee engagement, and global transformation and change management initiatives,Michele is a native New Yorker living in Philadelphia with her husband and their two daughters.

Melody Rollins, MBA, CFA, CAIA Melody Rollins, CFA, CAIA, is a Partner and Head of Client Service and Business Development at Brightwood Capital Advisors, LLC and also serves on Brightwood’s Executive Committee. . Outside of work, Ms. Rollins is very active in the community, focusing on organizations and programs that are eliminating disparities in access to educational, legal and health resources in underserved communities.

Melody Rollins, MBA, CFA, CAIA

Melody Rollins, CFA, CAIA, is a Partner and Head of Client Service and Business Development at Brightwood Capital Advisors, LLC and also serves on Brightwood’s Executive Committee. . Outside of work, Ms. Rollins is very active in the community, focusing on organizations and programs that are eliminating disparities in access to educational, legal and health resources in underserved communities.

 
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TEAM

ADVISOrs

Ifey Anoliefo, Legal & Regulatory Advisor, Department of Veteran Affairs

Starita Ansari, Director of Philanthropy at United Methodist Women

Kobla Asamoah, Director, HBK Incubates at Hot Bread Kitchen

Heidi Bruce, Director of Development, University of Maryland

Ruth Conner, Management Consultant, Clearstory Communications

Dennis Derryck, President, Corbin Hill Road Farm

Cathy Gilliard, Senior Minister, Park Avenue United Methodist Church

Guylene Grace, Senior Product Development & Garment Production Consultant

Makeba Morgan Hill, Deputy to the President and Chief Planner, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Amini Kajunju, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Africa Integras

Christina Lem, Strategy Consultant, Poet’s House

Marsha Modeste, Assistant Professor, Penn State University

Patience Oti, Assistant Vice-President, WIN (formerly Women In Need)

Eric Palmer, Grants Accountant, Stevens Institute of Technology

Michelle Pryce-Screen, Manager of Social Services, Hope Community

Mark Reed, Founder, Contact Fund LLC

Arva Rice, President, New York Urban League

Andrea Rogers, Nonprofit & International Philanthropy Consultant, CRE

Lisa Shepard Stewart, Designer, Cultured Expressions, Inc.

Vanna Sin, Director of Donor Engagement Fundraising, ASPCA

Caitrin Watson, Fabric and Sustainability Coordinator, Lafayette 148

Alfonso Wyatt, Public Speaker

 

 
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Support us

Support for Custom Collaborative creates work and businesses for low-income women in garment manufacturing. Your generous gift helps our participants professionalize and learn, get hands-on work experience, and start new careers as artisans and entrepreneurs.

WHAT YOUR gift SUPPORTS

$3,000: Supplies and curricular materials for one training cohort of 10 students.

$1,000: Plus size professional dress form.

$500: Fabric supplies for one training cohort of 10 students.

$100: Muslin fabric for three dress projects.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT US

 

In-kind donations

  • Donate dress forms, fabric and sewing machines.
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Volunteer

  • Volunteer as a model for students (women of all sizes and shapes are needed).
  • Volunteer as a classroom assistant.
  • Volunteer as a guest speaker.
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Partner with us

  • Introduce us to donors and investors.
  • Refer potential students to our program.
  • Talk to us about contract manufacturing. 
  • Talk to us about hiring graduates.
 
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THANK YOU

We are grateful for the support of our partners and donors who are dedicated to helping low-income women obtain education and networks so they can access good paying careers. We extend special thanks to The Riverside Church.

Corporations

Alder, New York

Eileen Fisher

Lafayette 148 New York

Wesley, Brown & Bartle

Foundations

Cottonwood Foundation

Darma Fund

Eileen Fisher Community Foundation

Goldman Sachs Gives

Hyde and Watson Foundation

New York Women's Foundation

Valentine Perry Snyder Fund

Individuals

Chinonso Akano, Rhonda Allen, Ifeyinwa Anoliefo, Anonymous, Ava Bynum, Susan Bynum, Deborah Chay, Ruth Conner, Dennis Derryck, Angelique Dorsey, Melody Rollins Downes, Steven & Susie Feldman, Reverend Cathy S. Gilliard, Victoria Grant, Dr. Adam Hill, Suwha Hong, Kerry James, David Jones, Veronica Jones, Amini Kajunju, Patricia J. Kozu, Rana LaPine, Christina Lem, Michele Long, Marsha Modeste, Carol Baldwin Moody, Alisia Moore, James Okaro, Ngozi Okaro, Nnabike Okaro, Eric Palmer, Christine Pomeranz, Michelle Pryce-Screen, Andrea Rogers, Vanna Sin, Denise Slater, Ramona Sunderwirth, Elaine Reiss, Juliana Rowe, Solade Rowe, Sharona Sankar-King, Laurel Schaffer, Willa Shalit, Vivian Taylor, Soo Uhm, Carl Webb, Susan York

Contact Us

102 Bradhurst Avenue, New York, NY 10039

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