For years I had been hearing about Jersey City Fashion Week. Whenever I would find out about it, it was too late to go or I was too busy. But this year, with the blog, I am making a point to go to the events as press (woohoo) and really support and rally around this cause!
What makes JCFW so special is that it is different from any other fashion week and people really appreciate that. They are an inclusive fashion week and over the years this has been a key selling point to getting people involved. It is not just the regular model; it is everyone and this also included everyone working the fashion show. They also donate proceeds to local Jersey City non-profits having donated $6,000 to $7,000 to 15 non profits over the past 4 years. This years donation recipient is Big Bothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties.
I interviewed the founder Desha Jackson, Esq. because I wanted to know why she started JCFW and why Jersey City?! After law school she clerked for 3 judges in Monmouth County and then in 1997 she work at the Hudson County Prosecutors office in Jersey City. “I started my legal career in Jersey City” and since then she has felt a connection to Jersey City.
Six years ago, she was working part time in an office in Jersey City and had her own practice DLJ Sports & Entertainment Connection LLC (also in Jersey City). Over dinner with a friend the idea for Jersey City Fashion Week was spurred. “I was sitting with a fellow lawyer about 6 years ago and she had asked if there was a fashion week in New Jersey and I said said yes ‘There is one called New Jersey Fashion Week in Hoboken.’ She said ‘Yeah, but there is nothing in Jersey City. You know really should think about starting something there. You are an employment entertainment lawyer; you have an entertainment business. And it would make sense for someone like you to do it.’ I said ‘I would really enjoy that. We could also have a community part where we give back.’”
“JCFW started out as part of my business. A for-profit where i would give the money to nonprofit, but then I created the non-profit because it is much easier to support non-profit ventures that way.”
Within the next year she was getting sponsors and made enough money to put on the show. She was able to do it quickly with support because of her connections in the entertainment industry. “I had a credible past and reputation with people vouching for me professionally and as a leader who planned events in the past. I think this helped me greatly to get sponsors and raise the funds.”
Five years later the biggest challenge is still selling the concept. “Fashion week is not a new concept, but being in Jersey City is and I think the challenge for us is having to sell this as something the designer needs to do.” This is a serious business opportunity for designers and “They are seeing and believing it the more we go on.” She used the example “When you do fashion week in Atlantic City it is not because you are selling clothes in Atlantic City. You do fashion week to get exposure and your name out there. Hopefully there will be boutiques and buyers at the fashion week who will help you.”
And this is what Desha loves - seeing these connections grow and prosper. “I love seeing designers sell their clothes! And everyone is making connections and doing business. What we are all about it is helping people move up, move on, and move over.” (NEW MANTRA!!) She finds that helping people in business and giving back to the community is the most rewarding part of putting this on.
Along with donating money to a local non-profit, Desha also takes the time to mentor the children that participate in the fashion show as well. There is a young designer show on Friday Sept 23. The kids get so excited and enjoy doing it. “We allow them to shine and be involved in something positive. Allowing them to be part of something where they can say they gave back.
This year they are ready because they are prepared. After 5 years, “We have learned the tricks of the trade and the things that have to be done with planning. Also, This year people know who we are. I have learned a lot about this and I think the biggest thing is publicity is what we need to get the word out about our fashion week. I hope that we can continue to get the support we need to give back and to continue to do the show.”
Please check out their website to learn more and to see what is in store!!
Purchase your tickets here
Pictures were provided by Jersey City Fashion Week.