On June 14th, the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) held its annual Summer Kick-Off at Global Brands Group. The Kick-Off, which included the announcement of the FSF Alumna who was awarded the first ever Alumni Dream Grant (ADG), was a huge success.
Back in June 2017, FSF announced the expansion of its portfolio of scholarships to include the Alumni Dream Grant. Overseeing the program is Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Executive Vice President of Business Development, Innovation who noted, “All of us who care and are invested in the future of fashion need to continue to identify the next generation of leadership and give them the support they need to succeed.” Continuing the organization’s mission of identifying the best and brightest talent from its 64 partner colleges and universities for the future of the fashion industry, the Fashion Scholarship Fund Alumni Dream Grant chose to support the early stage start-up, Thistle & Spire, for further growth through mentorship from industry experts and an equity-free $50,000 grant.
ADG winner Lily Chen, FSF 2010 Scholarship Recipient and Fashion Institute of Technology graduate, was ecstatic to hear that she won the grant and is eager to use the funding and mentorship to further advance her company. When asked about her inspiration for Thistle & Spire, Lily articulated, “I will always love building, getting my hands dirty, and the grit of working on challenges to create something new. Maggie and I created Thistle & Spire because we both saw the power in lingerie. As young women it helped us find confidence, not as something we purchase to wear for other people, but for ourselves. We were also astounded how there were very expensive brands or cheaper mass market brands, but nothing in between. Thistle & Spire was inspired by the women in our lives. Women who knew what they want and built their own way. Our brand name comes from the mix of floral and architectural lines in our designs. They represent the Thistle & spire woman. Thistle flowers were one of the few flowers that grew by our first office in Bushwick Brooklyn. They find a way to grow past restrictions, while a spire rises above in a landscape, always moving upward and seen by everyone.”
Lily also spoke about her company’s overall vision and growth. “It's been a lot of hard work, but thrilling to watch our company grow from a handful of wholesale accounts and a few online purchases to over 50 wholesale doors including Nordstrom, Blooomingdales, Revolve, and Shopbop. We also have a booming direct to consumer online business. We love the community we have built with body positivity events. As someone who was not confident growing up, the brand allows me to help other women find their confidence through lingerie. After all, there is nothing more unstoppable than an army of confident women.”
Among those who attended the kick-off were FSF Board of Governors, industry mentors, current scholars, and alumni. Guests enjoyed a live string quartet and an assortment of delicious Italian food and beverages.
Attendees of this event included Board of Governors such as Alibaba’s Lee McCabe, Randa’s David Katz and Heath Golden, Macy’s Marc Mastronardi, MMG’s Jeff Hellman, Nautica’s Electa Varnish, Glen Ellen Brown, Yehuda Shmidman, and former FSF Executive Director, Doug Evans.
Overall, the Kick-Off was the quintessential way to launch the summer events series and celebrate the newly crowned ADG winner. Current scholars and alumni got the opportunity to network with potential mentors and mingle with fashion industry leaders in a relaxed and uplifting setting.