Kick-start your style startup (Part 1)
HOMEHIGHLIGHT ▸ Kick-start your style startup (Part 1)

In the first of this two-part series, FASHIONALLY will explore two incubator schemes for designers that aim to help aspiring designers get their businesses off the ground in the city.

Establishing a base
Hong Kong Design Centre’s Design Incubation Programme (DIP III) is an initiative supported by the HKSAR government through CreateHK. It aims to help design startups overcome obstacles as they establish their business and market their brand. DIP III is now housed in two separate premises. DIP CITA Centre, which debuted this April in Kowloon, welcomes all design practices but in particular fashion designers as the centre is equipped with facilities especially for them. Opened last year, DIP Wong Chuk Hang Centre is geared towards a more diverse range of design disciplines.

Incubatees accepted by DIP III will receive free rental for office premises for the first year and discounted rental for the second year. During this time, they are entitled to a ready-to-use office of up to 350 sq. ft. in addition to other business centre assistance like office equipment, meeting rooms and library. Incubatees can also apply for financial assistance in training and development, internship staffing, promotion, marketing and other operational expenses. The maximum amount of financial assistance to be given to an incubatee is HK$260,000.

DIP incubatees also benefit from HKDC’s comprehensive mentorship, consultation and business knowledge enrichment programmes, with access to important events such as the Business of Design Week and other networking opportunities. Being a DIP incubatee enables up-and-coming designers to leverage on the network of international and local business partners of the HKDC, with many finding crossover and collaboration opportunities during the incubation period.

Second year incubatee Derek Chan, founder of menswear label DEMO., says that DIP provides a design-oriented working space that’s not only an office but also provides access to things like photographic equipment. Many new designers wouldn’t be able to afford such expensive items when they are setting up their business. As a DIP incubatee, Chan could also apply for funding to join local trade shows and events such as the CAPSULE show in Paris this January.

Incubation scheme for wearable tech
Founded in the 1950s during the heyday of Hong Kong’s garment manufacturing industry, Nan Fung Textile Mill is now Nan Fung Group, a diversified conglomerate with many business interests. Its HK$700 million re-development of its old mill in Tsuen Wan comprises a social enterprise project that includes an incubator scheme for wearable tech startups, The Mills Fabrica.

The Mills will officially open in Autumn 2018 but Fabrica’s business incubator for tech style startups is already in operation. Targeting young companies with a clear goal, Fabrica helps these startups build a sustainable business poised for growth.

Snaptee, an app-based T-shirt company that enables users to upload and create their own unique t-shirt and bespoke watch brand Eoniq are among the incubatees chosen from two previous competitions.

Fabrica occupies an entire floor in The Mills complex and offers a shared work and networking space. Start-ups viewed as having the greatest potential will receive business guidance and marketing exposure. Incubatees will additionally receive assistance with production and learn how to market their brands and products to ensure future success. A sample room, photography studio, multimedia centre as well as sewing machines and 3D printers will be provided at the facility.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we will explore funding and support for marketing your fashion brand.
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