Winning $10,000 in this week’s AltCap Your Biz Competition will help Rightfully Sewn expand, Jennifer Lapka said — a move coming on the heels of the social endeavor releasing the first dress under its own label to support the Crossroads-based seamstress training program.
AltCap, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), has been a catalyst for investments in Kansas City’s capital starved communities since 2008. Through the deployment of nearly $200 million in New Markets Tax Credits and over $7 million in small business financing, AltCap has generated significant economic and community impact with key investments, creative financing options for job creating small businesses, and by connecting entrepreneurs to the necessary skills and resources to prosper. Learn more at www.alt-cap.org
“It’s a stylish, well-made LBD (little black dress) that women can wear to work or out on the town,” said Lapka, founder of Rightfully Sewn, describing the piece, which will be available for sale starting Dec. 1 at TEDxKC Women. “Nodding to our icon, Nelly Quinlan Donnelly Reed — the great 20th Century fashion entrepreneur — our dress features elements like princess seams and French darts to ensure the dress has terrific shape. We have, of course, modernized our design with our material selection, as we are using athletic wear material.”
“It will be chic, comfortable, moisture-wicking, and machine-washable,” she added.
Rightfully Sewn is a 3-year-old social enterprise that offers seamstress training and job placement to at-risk women so they can secure stable, well-paying jobs, and helps local fashion industry businesses hire skilled seamstresses to expand their operations.
Lapka’s venture was selected as the first prize winner at this week’s AltCap competition, an outreach program that helps connect entrepreneurs to the necessary expertise and capital needed to grow their businesses. The event during Global Entrepreneurship Week saw 10 finalists vying for $17,500 in prize money, as well as WIBO scholarships, through afternoon pitches at Plexpod Westport Commons.
“With a lot of the national trends showing that entrepreneurship and small businesses are actually on the decline,” said Davin Gordon, AltCap’s business development officer, “It’s so important for these sorts of opportunities for our small businesses to take a cash infusion into their business and to really drive the growth of their business. And hopefully that will create some sort of multiplier effect into the community.”
“AltCap is passionate about our community,” Lapka said. “Since our business pitch focused on advancing the skills of women to get them into well-paying jobs, while simultaneously helping business grow by providing them with skilled seamstresses, we best fit AltCap’s scope.”
Watch Rightfully Sewn’s pitch below, then keep reading.
“Fashion is not frivolous. It is a $3 trillion dollar worldwide industry,” Lapka said, referencing her pitch. “Rightfully Sewn wants to ‘cut a piece of that cloth’ for Kansas City.”
Expanding the program will allow local sewists to increase their production management and advanced alteration skills, thereby increasing their earning potential, she said.
In addition to Rightfully Sewn, competitors in the AltCap Your Biz Competition included: BODYTRUTH; D&D Organics; Eco Land Clear; Flexplay; Gigi’s Kale Chips; HKN Design; Kansas City Mental Health Associates; Off-Kilta Matilda; and Pancake Pancake.
2018 AltCap Your Biz Winners
First Prize: Rightfully Sewn
Award: $10,000 and a WIBO scholarship
Pitch: Rightfully Sewn is a three-year-old social enterprise that offers seamstress training and job placement to at-risk women so they can secure stable, well-paying jobs, and helps local fashion industry businesses hire skilled seamstresses to expand their operations. Rightfully Sewn will leverage AltCap’s $10,000 award to develop Level II and Level III of the Seamstress Training Program.
Second Prize: Gigi’s Kale Chips
Award: $5,000 and a WIBO scholarship
Pitch: Gigi’s Kale Chips is a 100% organic plant-based, gluten free, dairy free, vegan gourmet kale chips company. Gigi and her team strive to create healthy food and an environment that supports health and sustainability of both our community and the planet at large. The $5,000 award will be used to purchase a commercial dehydrator that will help the company meet a growing demand. Click here to watch Gigi’s Kale Chip pitch video.
Third Prize: My Flex Play
Award: $2,500 and a WIBO scholarship
Pitch: My Flex Play is a family co-working space with a Montessori inspired, flexible childcare program. They provide a much needed solution for working parents within a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, freelancers and artists. The childcare program offers curriculum based activities that focus on Kindergarten readiness, kindness, respect and courtesy. The $2,500 award will be used to augment the company’s marketing efforts. Click here to watch My Flex Play’s pitch video.