Lansing Rocks the Runway with this Incubator

By Jane Whitttington on March 9th, 2015 / Comments

The fashion capitals of the world: Paris. New York. Milan. Lansing? If LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership) and The Runway, a newly opened fashion and design incubator have anything to say about it, Lansing could well be the beginning of something big in the fashion industry.

Housed in the newly renovated and reimagined Knapp Centre in downtown Lansing, the showroom on the main level is open and inviting with beautifully curated displays of clothes and accessories for sale. The space is enhanced by artwork created by Mary Gillis, all of which is for sale. The items are sold on a consignment basis with 70 percent going to the designer. The remaining 30 percent is used for the maintenance of the showroom and upstairs workroom. Upstairs are the workroom and offices.

LEAP is the managing partner of The Runway and provides some of the financial support along with other funding sources.

According to Quin Stinchfield, Manager of Business Incubation, “The Runway is a one-stop shop for the up-and-coming fashion entrepreneur.  We offer office space, a design studio with all the latest and greatest technologies for fashion, and robust partnerships with area businesses and educational institutions. Our showroom displays and sells what our designers produce. For the consumer, it’s a place to connect with new designers who are selling unique clothing and accessories, often not for sale anywhere else.”

She continues, “Designers in residence are provided with office space as well as unlimited use of the workroom, which is available 24/7. They can remain in residence with us for three years, with six month leases on the office space. We also have associate designers who have access to the workroom and all of the technology but do not have offices.”

Resources available include business development assistance, design resources, pattern-making technology, sourcing of materials, sample production, equipment, manufacturing and sales and marketing support.

Stinchfield says that The Runway works closely with Michigan State University and Lansing Community College, which both have strong fashion programs. In fact, LCC is currently revamping their fashion program and will be offering five different fashion-related associate degrees.

Sponsors include Foster Swift Collins and Smith (a law firm), Lake Trust Credit Union and Peckham (a company providing job training and placement for those with disabilities).

The Runway also offers programming, consultation and training for their designers as well as some events open to the public. They recently received a $65,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Center to enhance their programming.

Stinchfield says, “We opened in October. While we do see a lot of customers, we know that when the warmer weather comes, we will see an increase in traffic to the store. What we sell here is unique, and we hope to continue developing a strong presence in Lansing and the entire area. “

For more information on The Runway and their designers as well as a photo gallery, check out their website at www.runwaylansing.com.

About the Author

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington

Jane Whitttington is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Grand Rapids. A Michigan native and Michigan State University grad, she enjoys reading, travel, politics and volunteering.