The coronavirus reshaped the world at the very moment Ashley Klein, Fashion Design ’10, chose to launch her clothing line. All her careful plans—built upon nearly a decade’s worth of dreams—suddenly went out the window as she scrambled to steer her brand-new business through a catastrophe few saw coming.
“It’s definitely been a growth experience, at the very least,” she says with a laugh.
Klein is one of many FIT alumni who embarked on new business ventures in 2020 despite the chaotic and terrifying economic landscape. For some, the pandemic complicated projects already in motion; for others, it provided the spark for a new enterprise.
Delsy Gouw, Advertising and Marketing Communications ’21, picked up her crochet hook to fight off lockdown-induced cabin fever, but after she posted a photo of a cheerful pink and orange bag on Instagram, a business was born. Fatima Vali, Global Fashion Management ’19, started Soulitude to sell sustainable masks when the pandemic forced her to suspend her job search.
As life slowly resumes, these entrepreneurs are looking ahead, growing their customer base, expanding product lines, and taking a breath after a tumultuous year.
“I’ve learned to accept that you can’t necessarily control everything that’s going to happen,” Klein says, “and that’s OK, as long as you really believe in what you’re creating.”