I was recently interviewed by Marc Karimzadeh of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, where I sit on an advisory board (advising the fellows of the Elaine Gold Launch Pad program, a collaboration between the CFDA and the Accessories Council).
The information provided in this informal q&a may be helpful to fashion startup founders and designers.
Below is an excerpt from that interview.
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What interests you in working with start-ups?
I enjoy working with start-ups because it allows me to paint on a clean canvas. During my career, I was often tasked with cleaning up years of disorganization at the substantial expense and disruption of a client. Working with a start-up presents a unique opportunity to establish good habits at the earliest and perhaps most significant stages of a company’s existence. While the founders pursue business opportunities, I focus on maintaining the legal integrity of the company and developing its intellectual property portfolio. A solid corporate structure that follows legal formalities, a record of consistent legal compliance, and a comprehensive intellectual property portfolio are attractive to prospective investors, shareholders, lenders and collaborators.
What is the most popular legal issue you see emerging designers running into?
The most popular legal issues for emerging designers tend to center around intellectual property. They may unwittingly spend time and resources developing a concept or a brand that is vulnerable to an allegation of infringement. Likewise, emerging designers may find their intellectual property being infringed, often by a designer that is more established and perhaps better-funded. These situations may result in legal issues that at best are expensive to handle and at worst could break a company before it has a chance to take off.
What do you hope the designers will take away from you as an advisory board member for Elaine Gold Launch Pad?
Creatives and business people often have a reluctance to involve attorneys, perhaps out of a fear that attorneys will unnecessarily complicate matters. However, not working with a competent attorney can present significant issues – some of which are not easy or even possible to later remedy. That said, not all attorneys are alike. Designers should seek out attorneys who take practical approaches to legal issues and understand how to balance risks against objectives. An attorney with significant in-house experience, who can inform without relying on legal-jargon, whose focus is to help his or her client meet objectives, and has a proven track record of identifying creative and legally compliant solutions, is both invaluable and difficult to find. But I want the designers to know that we do indeed exist.
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The entire Q&A can be accessed here.
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