The Kansas City fashion community is getting a boost thanks to a nationwide fashion initiative and a newly announced relaunch of a local fashion organization — led by an iconic veteran of KC’s fashion community.
The Kansas City Fashion Council announced Thursday its rebranding as Fashion Arts Fund with Jennifer Lapka, longtime Kansas City entrepreneur and fashion leader, driving its fundraising efforts, promoting its programs, and building out its team.
“I am excited to put my passion for the garment industry and entrepreneurial experience to work launching the Fashion Arts Fund and developing its new initiatives,” said Lapka, a consultant for the organization who in 2015 founded Rightfully Sewn, a Kansas City fashion startup creating jobs and opportunity through the business of fashion.
She has been an outspoken advocate for garment workers, sustainable manufacturing practices, and fabric recycling. Rightfully Sewn was acquired by Alphapointe in 2020, with Lapka exiting in summer 2022 and is now focused on her own art practice and providing consultation services to other entrepreneurial, nonprofit, and fashion entities like Fashion Arts Fund.
What is the Fashion Arts Fund?
The Fashion Arts Fund provides catalyzing support to Kansas City fashion designers through scholarships, workshops, and mentorships.
The newly rebooted organization will take advantage of offerings available through its affiliation with CFDA CONNECTS — a New York-based fashion program that provides business support to Kansas City Fashion Week and professional development programming to Kansas City-based fashion designers, the latter of which will now be offered through the new Fashion Arts Fund.
“The FAF’s relationship with CFDA CONNECTS in New York will afford incredible associations and opportunities,” Lapka said. “So I will continue to work to bring national and international attention to our Kansas City fashion and arts community; my passion for this is as strong as ever.”
Kansas City Fashion Council, Inc. was launched as a nonprofit organization in 2014 by Philip Willoughby and Teisha Barber, the producers of Kansas City Fashion Week.
They were passionate about creating a close-knit community where designers, retailers, hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and models interacted year round. Specifically, it offered networking events, fashion design competitions, and professional photo shoot opportunities.
“We paused the operation of Kansas City Fashion Council during the pandemic, which gave us the perfect opportunity to carefully consider its future initiatives,” said Barber. “Our fashion community and its needs are much different now as compared to eight years ago.”
Click here to learn more about how the Fashion Arts Fund aims to address those needs through scholarships, workshops, and mentorships for Kansas City fashion designers.