Runway signs LCC’s fashion program as anchor tenant -Lansing State Journal

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(Photo: Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal, Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal)

by Alexander Alusheff, Lansing State Journal

LANSING – Lansing Community College has signed a contract with the Runway to become the downtown fashion incubator’s anchor tenant.

The Runway is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a change in its business model. It first opened as a retail space that sold clothing and accessories from local designers. It is now scaling that back to include more professional resources that cater to the young entrepreneurs’ needs.

“It was set up so failure is not an option,” said Christine Conner, the chair of LCC’s fashion program. “Designers can take classes with us to take their business to the next level and designers can also take interns from LCC. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

LCC’s fashion program will be joining the Michigan Garment Industry Council and Creative Many as the newest resource for the independent designers working in the Runway. The MGIC helps members network with retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and designers. Creative Many is an arts and culture advocacy group.

“The beauty of this is we now are able to collaborate not only with programming but events and can get more exposure for students and designers,” said Quin Stinchfield, LEAP’s business incubator manager who oversees the Runway.

Officials from the Runway, LCC’s fashion program, Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the city will make the formal announcement during a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. today at the incubator, located on the ground floor of the Knapps Building.

The fashion program will begin hosting classes at the Runway in roughly two weeks. LCC will pay $1,666.50 per month to rent the space and the contract will expire in October 2016, halfway through the fall semester.

The inclusion of professional resources came about at the request of the designer tenants who were at different stages of developing their businesses, Stinchfield said.

“They needed more access to the industry,” Stinchfield said, whose goal is to have 60 percent of the space used by entrepreneurs and 40 percent occupied by services such as LCC, MGIC and Creative Many. “This makes for an ecosystem in (the Runway).”

The retail, however, is still alive. During the one-year anniversary celebration this afternoon, attendees can meet the designers and buy their items starting at 5 p.m. followed by the business-pitch competition, the Hatching, at 6 p.m.

Lauren Aitch has been a tenant of the Runway since it opened and said the new partnership with LCC will benefit all involved.

“The talent base knows you can jump start your career here, and it’s great,” said Aitch, who co-owns Our Own Apparel and makes sweat-resistant formal wear. “The Runway is going in the right direction, and we’ll see a lot in the next year.”

Stinchfield said the partnership verifies the existence of a growing fashion community in Lansing, where it’s more affordable to run a business compared to New York or Chicago.

“People question why this makes sense,” she said. “We have significant (fashion) programs at Michigan State University, LCC and Central Michigan University and having these resources here is a talent attraction and retention tool.”

Mayor Virg Bernero said the Runway’s ability to nurture a fashion community in Lansing demonstrates that this city is a place that makes all sorts of things.

“Now we’re growing a fashion industry and to think about ‘Made in Lansing’ as a clothing label is very exciting,” Bernero said. “It’s a new chapter for Lansing.”

The Runway is open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Contact Alexander Alusheff at (517) 388-5973 or aalusheff@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexalusheff.

Source: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/2015/10/21/runway-signs-lccs-fashion-program-anchor-tenant/74291094/