Denise Falter-Conklin has had a long career in the product development, sourcing and brand management sides of the fashion industry. The vast portion of that time was spent at the Justice corporate office, where she worked for 15 years.
Now, the fashion industry veteran is out on her own. It’s a dream she’s had since she was a kid.
“Throughout my career, I’ve always wanted to start my own business,” she says. “And then as I was [going] throughout my career, really realizing the need that’s here, especially in Columbus.”
That thought led her to found the Columbus Apparel Studio, a full-service apparel studio located in Studio Creative’s coworking offices in the Clintonville/East Beechwold area at 757 Garden Rd.
Falter-Conklin did the research: Retail brands typically start nine to 12 months ahead of a season for development. That means brands are working nearly a year in advance, sometimes in vain, when customers are more fickle and fast-fashion dependent than ever before.
And with Columbus being the third-ranking city in the country in the number of resident fashion designers — from L Brands and Homage to smaller brands and boutiques — a full-service production house in Columbus with much faster turnaround was needed.
Some of those large brands and retailers, with which Falter-Conklin has and maintains connections, are now some of Columbus Apparel Studio’s clients.
“It allows us to react to those immediate needs of the customer, and develop and produce products in a very condensed time frame,” she says. “So we’re talking anywhere from four to eight weeks, we could do that development in production, depending on the quantities and complexity of the style.”
Currently working with a team of five, Columbus Apparel Studios’ services include design and technical product research and development, sourcing, pre-production and production services. That is everything from sketches and mood boards, to alterations, fittings, sampling and sourcing fabrics, and so forth.
All of the studio’s services are in-house, however, they do have some limitations on the maximum amount of units that can be produced. It is a small facility, so Falter-Conklin tends to focus on small-batch production, enlisting the help of manufacturing partners domestically as well as overseas that can help fill in the gaps for larger job runs.
“The smaller businesses are truly are our sweet spot,” she says, while also seeing the need to expand. “We do have the desire and we do have the capability to expand our resources. So we are looking at…growing our space and our capabilities, absolutely.”
Being a Columbus business owner in the world of fashion has a lot of positives, says Falter-Conklin, from the supportive fashion community to the “reasonable” cost of living, resources and more.
“The Small Business Development [Center] is wonderful. So I always recommend, if someone’s looking to start a business, definitely start there to get all the information that you need,” she says. “We have so many great opportunities here.”
For more information, visit www.columbusapparelstudio.com.