Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Elissa Bloom, the executive director at The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, where newly emerging fashion designers grow their brand in a designers-in-residence program. Elissa “brings a unique and fresh understanding to the world of fashion and business.”
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I grew up in Boston and am an alumnus of UMASS Amherst. I always had a love of travel and have lived in London, Los Angeles, Paris, and New York before moving to Philadelphia in 2008. While in New York, I worked in product development at Bloomingdales and traveled on many international buying trips to Asia and Europe to finalize samples and attend trade shows. Once I learned about manufacturing and production, I launched my fashion brand – Elissa Bloom New York, a line of colorful and functional accessories that sold in departments stores, boutiques, spas, and museum gift shops. When I moved to Philadelphia I started teaching fashion entrepreneurship at Drexel and Moore and I was amazed at all the fashion talent in Philadelphia and became inspired to help women build their fashion companies in Philadelphia.
2. What is The Fashion Incubator and what is your role there?
The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator is a one-year residency that teaches the business of fashion to six emerging fashion designers. Throughout the program we offer space at Macy’s Center City, dynamic workshops on the business of fashion, selling opportunities, business resources, mentors, trip to NYC along with exposure in the fashion eco-system of the city…all to support designers in building and growing their businesses to the next level of sustainability.
3. Last year marked Philadelphia’s first Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and also the city’s first WED conference. As the WED Philadelphia Ambassador, what changes do you hope to see in the women’s entrepreneurial community?
It is an exciting time for female entrepreneurs in Philadelphia. There are more business resources (co-working spaces, mentorship, education) available to support women in launching and building their companies in the region. What I would like to see more of is investment opportunities for women-owned companies. In addition, more networking opportunities for women from various sectors to connect and collaborate together.
4. As a woman passionate about supporting other women, what do you think of the conversations happening in our culture right now?
There is a strong paradigm shift taking place with women becoming more fearless in speaking their truth, strong in standing up for others and themselves along with being courageous in stepping in their power to lead themselves and others.
5. Who is a Boss Lady you admire and why?
My favorite boss lady is Donna Karan. I recently heard her speak and she is the ultimate female entrepreneur – combining her extraordinary talent passion and vision to build her Donna Karan empire, sell it and then reinvent herself by launching Urban Zen and giving back to the global community through teaching and showcasing talented artisans from around the world.
6. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Develop your product/services, do extensive market research and launch as a side hustle before leaving your day job. Know that entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of a ride and you will have many highs and lows along your business journey, to create an advisory board and support yourself and your goals with a strong team. Focus on the next three months, build slowly and if you love what you are doing it will never feel like work.