!Made In DC

Workforce Development Fashion Incubator plans to create a workforce development capability for handbag, shoes, apparel, jewelry, accessories and leather goods manufacturing in Washington DC that will begin the process of rebuilding an industry that will bring manufacturing innovation and jobs to the area.  All of these manufacturing demands consistent innovation and implementation of modern processes and technologies to increase productivity and efficiency.  These implementations are critical for a thriving industry and they will be an integral piece of the proposed effort.  In addition, leather goods manufacturing requires an array of learned skills in craftsmanship, skills that are passed from mentor to apprentice.  Like other trades such as plumbing, electrician, cabinetry, welding and auto repair, skill and mastery in leather craft is acquired over years of apprenticeship and practice, and once acquired, provide an income level that can support a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle in the USA.

First two clients Anna Bags, LLC and Doudaklian Leather in partnership with the DC Fashion Incubator program can create the Workforce Development Incubator for handbag and leather goods manufacturing that will provide the mentoring and infrastructure to support on-the-job training to DC residents, affording them a lifetime of skilled employment opportunities.

In addition to building a sustainable industry and creating jobs, establishing the manufacturing capability in the DC area will facilitate entrepreneurial opportunities for new designers who will have access to quality manufacturing  resources in their back yard, as well as attract related businesses such as materials suppliers, die makers, metal casting companies, and many more to the CD area.

The footwear workforce will help DC residents obtain and succeed in family wage jobs while meeting employer’s needs for a skilled workforce.  The program is intended to help residents of the District of Columbia to reach their potential, regardless of disability, minority/ethnicity, or barriers to employment.  Workforce development is strongly tied to education and economic development.  The program is of a great benefit for business and job seekers alike by eliminating programmatic silos and promoting greater coordination, transparency & accountability.

The skills that businesses are seeking in today’s workplace are outpacing the skills of the nation’s workforce.  Many employers report they are unable to find skilled workers.  This offers a great opportunity for the residents of the District of Columbia.  This program will also increase decision making about how to use public resources to solve problems at the level closest to it residents, the local level.  Additionally, there will be expanded public/private partnerships to assure the relevance and long-term sustainability of workforce programs.

The program will target several key groups:

  • Emerging workforce, youth 16-years or older
  • Transitional; transitioning from unemployment, etc.
  • Skilled; those with some experience already in footwear, apparel, leather goods and fashion but require more skills and development to move into a full-time paid position within the industry.


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