Housed in the iconic Spring Studios, NYFW: The Shows debuted a new capsule collection and pop-up shop this NYFW featuring five Black In Fashion Council (BIFC) selected designers, presented by Intuit Mailchimp. The limited-edition capsule collection showcases five designers from the Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom: Izayla, Kwame Adusei, Muehleder, Ndigo Studio, and Sammy B. Upstairs, additional showrooms were available for private showings and interviews – open to buyers, press, and more. In bringing these talented designers to the forefront, Mailchimp and BIFC set a new standard in an industry traditionally lacking diversity and inclusivity. We sat down with Michael Mitchell, Mailchimp Sr. Director of Brand and Content Marketing, to talk more about the collection, the partnership with the Black In Fashion Council, and entrepreneurship.
Why was it important to do something at Fashion Week this season?
MM: I think our main audience at MailChimp are small businesses and folks who want to put an idea out into the world, designers fall under that category. They’re artists, entrepreneurs trying to build their own business themselves. So it just made sense for us to work with designers at fashion week to help raise the profile of some talented Black and brown designers who may not otherwise have access to a platform like this. So we’re really excited to partner with the Black Fashion Council to do this.
How did you guys choose the designers? What was the criteria?
We really let the Black Fashion Council take the lead on finding sort of the hottest artists in the game. We wanted to play our part of just providing access to platform, the support that they need. We really let the council take the lead on choosing who they felt were sort of the strongest folks that we could put forward. So there was really a good partnership with them to get to this solution.
Who reached out to who? Did you guys seek out the Black Fashion Council?
I think we just knew we wanted to do an event. With designers at Fashion Week, we have a history of trying to empower the underdog and work with historically excluded groups. So just as we were looking through our network on how we can best bring this to life, we found each other at the right time. So it was really a mutual connection.
You said that most of your customers are small businesses. What other initiatives do you guys have to help small businesses?
We launched a digital experience a couple months ago called Bloom Season; you can find it at mailchimp.com/bloomseason. It’s a digital resource for entrepreneurs of color that has probably about 30 articles, covering 50 Black and brown small businesses – a mixture of content, from video to audio to long in-depth articles about them. It covers topics that are both about how to build your business and how to sort of grow and the practical advice that you need for that. There is also a ton of articles on the mental health space and wellness that can be the challenges that you face as an entrepreneur and as an entrepreneur of color.
We have a whole other section on the future of entrepreneurship for Black and brown entrepreneurs. So this was a great initiative we launched in January. And this event downstairs is a bit of an extension of the spirit of that, to continue to just raise the profile and provide as much support and guidance to groups who haven’t necessarily had as much of a high profile as they should. We just really want to make sure that we’re living our values, giving back to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and providing as inclusive a picture of what an entrepreneur can look like.
That’s a great mission, great work. How important is it for you guys to show up in those arenas?
100%. I think inclusivity is at the core of who our brand is in general. So I think it doesn’t really feel like we’re going out of our way like this is the right thing to do. So, as long as we continue to do this, pursue what works – we want to reach out to LGBTQIA entrepreneurs, Black and brown entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs. We just want to make sure that everyone can see themselves and everyone can feel included and understand that the path to being a small business success is for everyone. And we have a software platform that can also help you with that. But we also want to provide the content and the added guidance that can also help round out the partner with the software.
All right, having a bit of fun, Who is your favorite designer to work with this season? If you had one.
It’s like choosing one of your favorite kids or something. They’re new, they’re not judged children. They’re all really established. Well, foreign designers, I think they each have a story. They’re all from different backgrounds; they all bring themselves into their work. So I love the views from all of them. And it’s really, really difficult to choose.
Love that answer. What is the mission for this presentation? What do you guys hope to achieve?
Immediately it is just raising the profile of these five designers, making sure that we can get them in as many people’s closets as possible. We’ve had a very popular booth this morning, we’re already ahead of schedule in terms of the amount of merch that we’re giving away. People are excited about it. And this is just one activation and a string of things that we hope to do, to continue to just help the entrepreneur community in general. So whether it’s Bloom Season, whether it’s Fashion Week, or whether it’s just the software itself – we have a brand new, huge advertising campaign that launched this week about how the software can help take the guesswork out of your marketing.
Our platform is powered by AI, we send millions of emails a day, billions a month; every customer can take the power of all that data to better understand how to write an email to your customers, design an email to your customers, when to send an abandoned cart email to make sure that someone doesn’t forget to purchase that beautiful thing that they didn’t buy the first time through. So we’re, we’re just trying to make sure that from the software to content, to guidance, and events like this, we’re providing all the potential resources someone could need to help build a business. And that’s our mission.
Do you have any advice for small businesses, especially small businesses that may be using Mailchimp, and want to get the most out of it?
Continue to test and learn with your audiences. I think just making sure that you’re understanding what works, what doesn’t, experimenting, and then using all of that information to inform your next campaign. Then taking all that information for the next one and the next one – always building and growing on what you did before so that you kind of optimize your communications and relationship building for the future.