Celebrating emerging fashion designers, we are happy to partner with Curated Crowd – a new crowdfunding platform specifically for fashion designers. Curated Crowd founder Ada has become a part of our expert network at DIY Fashion Agency and Fashion Bloc will act as a recommendation body introducing best independent talent to Curated Crowd.
After participating at the Curated Crowd launch party at London Fashion Week, we caught up with Ada Zhao, a founder and CEO of the exciting business support and growth platform for emerging fashion designers.
Fashion Bloc: How did you arrive at the decision to create a Curated Crowd? What is your interest in emerging fashion designers?
Ada Zhao: After spending over 10 years in the world of Investment Banking, I decided to pursue my passion and to capitalise on the skills and networks I have built up over the years both in Europe and China. My association with design and fashion began in 2015 when I helped launch two luxury fashion labels (POAN and Zhoulii) in London and Shanghai. I told them about Curated Crowd and they loved the idea and concept – so the word started to spread around.
I wanted to create a unique way for emerging brands to introduce themselves to the world by directly raising funds from their end consumers. The concept was to offer an online emporium where designers with unique stories could create and share content directly with Patrons- candidly reflecting the spirit of their brand without having to compromise. And so Curated Crowd was born!
FB: What is Curated Crowd and how does it work?
AZ: Curated Crowd (www.curated-crowd.com) is an integrated crowdfunding & e-commerce platform for emerging designers. Providing funding, mentoring and a direct sales channel it cuts out the middleman and allows consumers to discover emerging talent and brands from around the globe.
The site works off a reward-based crowdfunding model which means for every penny put in the patron gets something back, i.e. the reward items. It is essentially a unique chance for the patrons to pre-order from the collections at a discounted price! Then as soon as the project is closed (when the fundraising period has ended) the designer will sell on our online “showroom”, i.e. the marketplace part of our site. We charge a commission on the funds raised through crowdfunding and items sold through the platform.
FB: How do you source designers is there a selection criterion?
AZ: We have been working closely with British Fashion Council and Central St Martins to source designers, but we want to be open and inclusive to everyone which is why our online platform (www.curated-crowd.com) is open for application to all designers around the globe, or drop us an email at email@example.com.
For us it’s the unique brand stories and authenticity which interests us – whether it is the designer, product or project – for instance, what is the cause, is it truly unique and does it make an impact on society? These are the designer candidates we’re looking to work with. But we also look at three criteria: First: Authenticity – is the brand really authentic? Second: Creativity – we don’t want another designer producing another white T-shirt with a logo or a slogan – it has to have originality. Third: Whether the designer can establish an emotional bond with the patron.
FB: Who are or can be the backers of the designer projects?
AZ: Anyone can be a Curated Crowd Fashion Patron! The definition of our fashion patrons is not the traditional concept of patrons (which refers to wealth). Ours is a concept of inclusion – everyone can be a patron because the more that is invested to the designers the higher chance they have to be successful. That power lies with the public and patrons, so yes it is hugely dependant on the wider public. This is very important – as for us, as a brand, it’s all about inclusion, diversity and the user “fashion patron” experience and journey.
FB: What is an added value? Do designers also get business support?
AZ: In addition to the crowdfunding and the Curated Showroom, Curated Crowd also operates a consultancy service under umbrella brand Curated Ventures dedicated to support and grow young designers by addressing issues such as business planning, omnichannel strategies, manufacturing, sourcing, expansion into China, investment sourcing and much more.
FB: You launched at London Fashion Week – do you have plans working with the LFW?
AZ: Yes, our launch was a part of the LFW official schedule, and as a BFC Fashion Trust Member, we do support many of the BFC designers financially so they can afford the shows at LFW.
FB: Why fashion customers should support young designers?
AZ: because they are the ones who create beautiful things making us appreciate more of our own lives – so we should support them in creating more of them!