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...AND INSTEAD SHAKES UP THE MARKET BY DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY" ~Sir Richard Branson
#BeDisruptive #RockTheBoat #BeDEFIant
Models, Designers, supporters and (DE-FI) leaders participate in a Habitat For Humanity Build.
A privately held Fashion Incubator owned and directed by Dayton,Ohio native, resident, and former model Caressa L. Brown; (DE-FI) Global INC evolved from the disruptive volunteer based community outreach beginnings of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator to the bold arrival of the first-of-its-kind one stop fashion fablab, the House of (DE-FI)ance: A Fashion & Design Co-working Experience, on to the barrier removing, tax exempt 501 (c)(3) The Art of (DE-FI)ance Fashion Fund, and more. With a focus on fashion, talent, media, and events, we develop and support those seeking a career in the fashion industry and connect them to other like-minded individuals seeking the same. We do this by providing affordable access, resources, and opportunities via the Dayton Fashion Week Fashion Incubator.
It's never business as usual for us and you'll never have the same experience twice. (DE-FI) Global INC's events and programming are tailor made to provide participants, contributors, and patrons alike a distinctive and captivating opportunity to witness tomorrow's fashion stars at the birth of their careers, follow them throughout the process, and at the culmination of their fashion career, you'll have the chance to say, "I knew them when...". So when you hear us say #RememberTheirName, believe us, take notes, sit back, and just watch.
Headquartered in Dayton, OH, we support, strengthen, and expand the fashion industry throughout Southwest Ohio including our sister city, Cincinnati which is 45 minutes south of Dayton. We do this through a combination of our Fashion Pipeline initiatives, community support, funding, and creative programs. Our vigor has been a hub for innovation and creativity that has often been imitated yet our formula for success has never been duplicated. For nearly a decade, the crown jewel of our company, the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator affectionately known as (DE-FI) and pronounced "defy", served as the first-of-its-kind one stop organization that re(DE-FI)ned what it meant to put community first, live out your wildest dreams, and supporting the needs of emerging fashion talent as a whole at the same damn time. And it was done in one of the least likely cities you'd ever expect to find a successful and thriving fashion community...yet here we are in Dayton, OH making it happen.
Comprised of accomplished fashion industry professionals, business owners, and community leaders, (DE-FI) Global INC is far from polished; we are not your stereotypical posh or face giving fashion organization. We amplify influence and opportunities for aspiring, emerging, and independent apparel and accessory designers, as well as costume designers by promoting mentorship, entrepreneurship, collaboration, team building, community, and scholarship. In fact, before we even get into the creative aspects and business of fashion, we start with foundation building to ensure that our talent is equipped with the tools needed to navigate the not so pretty side of the fashion industry. It takes more than talent to be successful in fashion, therefore we start our talent off in our incubators by focusing on developing and/or fine tuning the following areas:
Through our work, (DE-FI) Global INC ultimately fosters a viable, nurturing, independent, and self-sustaining fashion community in Southwest Ohio. An organization so influential in its practices, strategy, and proven results that it reshaped how other regional fashion organizations across the world operate. With a focus on removing barriers, particularly the financial barriers that prevent many from succeeding in the fashion industry, our work is inspired by the struggles that (DE-FI) Global INC's Owner/Director faced in her one time promising career as a model.
Known for her in your face bold (DE-FI)ance, GRIT factor, giving, big heart, caring spirit, yet no non-sense accountability, tough love, and disciplined approach to business and every day life. Caressa is probably best known for her resilience, tenacity, perseverance; her story has served as the foundation for our programming. Suffering from low self-esteem issues as a kid, Caressa's mom worked several jobs to put Caressa into modeling school so that she could learn how to walk with confidence. After the first class, the instructor called Caressa and her mother aside and offered to continue to train Caressa free of charge because she believed that Caressa was the only person in her class that had what it took to make it in the industry as a professional model. It was later discovered that this decision had not been approved by the modeling school's owner who gave Caressa's mom the option to pay back the money owed or withdraw from the school, it was decided to withdraw from the school.
With newly found confidence and a new dream of becoming a model, Caressa spent a lot of time hanging out in the bookstores at the local malls reading fashion magazines and fashion based books looking for model searches, studying posing, reading interviews from top models and designers, and totally immersing herself into all things fashion. Then at the age of 12, Caressa signed her first modeling contract, unfortunately shortly after, her mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, their already strained financial situation worsened; Caressa's dreams were put on hold to become the caregiver for her mom, a title that 30+ years later, she still holds. Shortly after graduating from high school, Caressa once again pursued a career as a model and she was offered a contract with Click Atlanta, this time she was working at General Motors Truck & Bus and was making good money, while also putting herself through college, and still caring for her disabled mother.
Struggling to carry the load of being a full-time first generation college student, caring for a disabled mother, working 50+ hours a week at G.M., and chasing her dreams, she struggled to get to Atlanta to meet with her agency and once again her dream slipped away. Then at the age of 21, she was a Regional Semi-Finalist in the iconic Elite Model Look Competition and was offered a contract with Elite Chicago. Once again Caressa struggled to make it to Chicago to meet with her agency; it was then that she realized that just being able to afford to pursue a dream is not enough, she also needed a strong support system, and did not have one. It ultimately took her 8 years to complete her degree; years later, Caressa who has also been a loyal community volunteer and activist since the age of 12 created (DE-FI) using community outreach as the foundation and requiring talent to volunteer in their respective communities in exchange for (DE-FI) services. As a result, we eliminated financial barriers and provided the needed support system that individuals seeking careers in fashion need to find success within the industry.
And success they found! Shortly after our 2013 launch, Caressa went on to serve on the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Volunteer team working behind the scenes of NYFW from 2013-2018. Taking what she learned from those experiences, she held the door open for others, while providing the support system that talent needed via #DatDEFIFam. Since launching, (DE-FI) model alum have gone on to walk in Fashion Weeks in Milan, New York, and Paris for designers such as Versace, Kayne West, Saint Jesus, Saral Zens and more. They've appeared in campaigns for Kohl's, Micheal Kors, ASOS, When Smoke Clears, Nike, Marc Jacobs, and more. They’ve been profiled in InStyle and Vogue Magazines, and have appeared in national commercials, prime time tv, and films. (DE-FI) Designer alum have been featured in Vogue Italia, Ebony, Ellements, Shape magazines, and more. They've been scouted by top fashion design programs and companies including FIDM, Kent State, UC's DAAP, SCAAD, Ross Dress for Less, L Brands and have been named to Forbes Under 30 Fellows list. Their work has been seen at Ulla Johnson, Calvin Klein, and on A List celebrities at the Grammy's, the Oscars, Paris Fashion week, the Tribeca Film Festival, and on ABC's reboot of The Wonder Years, just to name a few.
(DE-FI) has grown every year since 2013 without ever having to scale down or veer off course. We are an industry builder.
Caressa shares her story of creating the support system that she wished she had while pursuing her dreams in fashion during a Pitch Competition. So...why do dreams fail?
Former high school intern turned model turned designer Sa-Shai Daniels shares her experience in working with the (DE-FI) in her 5 year journey of creative self-discovery.
After working behind the scenes of NYFW with the CFDA's volunteer team from 2013-2018, in 2021 we were honored to become a founding member of the CFDA Connects Program and an Associate. Our Owner Caressa L. Brown and Designer Alum Aceani Michelle sat on the Leadership Committee in the inaugural year and are current voting member of the CFDA Fashion Award's Guild.
CFDA Connects is a network curated by the Council of Fashion Designers of America CFDA which was recently chaired Chaired by American Fashion Designers Tom Ford, previous Chairs have included Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Perry Ellis, and Bill Blass to name a few. CFDA Leadership includes Steven Kolb, who serves as the CEO, CaSandra Diggs, who serves as the President, Lisa Smilor, who serves as the Executive Vice-President, and Mark Beckham who serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Events.
Developed by Elliot Carlyle, the CFDA Connects program supports regional fashion weeks and organizations through promotion, business support, resources and member privileges whose influence alone will:
Designers selected to headline the Dayton Fashion Week Experience will also benefit from the following services via the CFDA Connects program:
Aside from our work started by the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, the 2022-23 CFDA Connects Regional Fashion Organizations include:
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962, whose membership consists of 477 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry and accessory designers. The mission of the CFDA is to strengthen the impact of American fashion in the global economy. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate not-for-profit organization, which was created to raise funds for charity and industry activities. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the trade organization owns the Fashion Calendar.
While producing world class talent has been the pinnacle of our success, growing Dayton's market to benefit from the economic powerhouse that is the Fashion Industry has been met with challenges. Most notably the lack of support from our local government and government agencies. The governments of Midwest cities like Columbus and St. Louis are actively working to retain their fashion based talent; the St. Louis government is paying $50,000 for designers to move to St. Louis, Columbus has invested over a half a million dollars to retain fashion designers in their city since 2020.
In 9 years, we've had zero support, backing, or acknowledgement from our government and it's not due to a lack of trying on our end. The fashion industry presents immense opportunities for investing in garment manufacturing; one of (DE-FI) Global INC's longest held goals has been and still is to bring garment manufacturing to the Dayton and Miami Valley areas. Did you know that garment manufacturing requires less capital intensive with high investment to turnover ratio? The output of U.S. textile manufacturing (measured by value added) totaled $18.79 billion in 2019.
According to U.S. Joint Economic Committee, the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry employs more than 144,000 people. While occupations such as sewing machine operators, tailors, and textile machine operators still earn lower wages; higher paying garment manufacturing occupations such as market research analysts and marketing specialists earn an average of $59,750 annually, garment manufacturing computer based professionals earn $67,110/yr., and other production stages such as fabric and apparel pattern-makers earn an average of $53,800 annually.
With a different fashion show popping up every week that garners applause as models sashay up and down the runway, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of lights, camera’s, and action BUT the fashion show is just the tip of the iceberg and only makes up 5% of the Fashion Industry, we bring you the other 95% too with immersive, educational, hands on opportunities to explore and launch your career in Fashion.
We celebrate beauty and talent in all forms and provide opportunities for aspiring models, designers, photographers, writers, producers and more regardless of ability, age, height, weight, size, gender identification, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality. We ensure that you are equipped with the tools, skills, resources, knowledge, access, and opportunities needed to achieve your dreams and goals in the fashion industry.
In 2013 (DE-FI) coined the term "The Fashion Experience" a term that is now widely used to describe and promote events. Our signature experiences include:
Fashion In The Mystic Garden (Est. 2013)
A Taste of (DE-FI)ance: Where Fashion Meets Food (Est.2014)
First Flight Now Fashion (Est.2014)
The Stylish Mom Runway (Est.2014)
A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance (Est.2014)
(DE-FI) Fashion Week (Est. 2017)
Fashion, Mission, Mingle (Est. 2019)
Dayton Fashion Week (Est. 2022)
#DFW #DFWbyDEFI #DaytonFashionWeek
Fashion Night Out (Est 2020)
Modelpalooza Sand Volleyball Tournament (Est. 2020)
When we first launched, the goal was to serve as a springboard for Miami Valley talent to connect with other fashion weeks and opportunities across the country, however, making that connection wasn't as easy as we had hoped and found that those other outlets weren't interested in sharing the spotlight. Locally, we found ourselves being dismissed, ignored, blocked, mitigated, gate-kept, and even sabotaged by the various small business owners, local government agencies, even community leaders who were uncomfortable with our rapid success, continued growth, outside the box operations, refusal to conform, and our in your face (DE-FI)ant attitude. So, we gathered our supplies, built our own platform and blazed a path and legacy of our own that those who tried to stop us and/or refused to acknowledge us, now duplicate or copy and paste directly from our blueprint.
For nearly a decade the self-funded (DE-FI) Global INC has transformed into a gate busting, door holding, accepts you as you are and where you are kind of organization that has built a solid reputation for developing world class talent and producing uniquely immersive fashion experiences with a style that is raw, in your face, open, honest, transparent, and (DE-FI)ant. A style that paved the way for fashion professionals to live out their dreams throughout various stages of life.
In doing so, we also built a sense of community, we curated ideas, we disrupted the status quo, we identified the problem then we initiated change. We've (DE-FI)ed all odds, every naysayer, every critic, every doubt, every fear, every rejection, and made the next level our floor. We did not re-invent the wheel, we changed how the wheel was used ultimately putting a global spotlight on Dayton’s emerging and advancing fashion industry and talented work force. #WeDidItOurWay #DontWaitForPermission #BeDisruptive #BeBold #BeDEFIant #TheNextLevelIsHere #RemovingBarriers #TheFashionPipeline #FashionAdvancement #TheFashionExperience #TheEvolutiionOfDEFI #WhatDoYouDEFI #FirstFlightNowFashion
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
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