The FABRIC Tempe association strives to make AZ a capital of the fashion industry


Sherri Barry (left) and Angela Johnson are co-founders of the nonprofit FABRIC Tempe. –TISSU Tempe photos

The opportunity to launch a career in the fashion industry is now as close as a historic building on a side street in downtown Tempe.

Everything a starting clothing designer / entrepreneur might need – from concept to small batch manufacturing, marketing, delivery of designs to customers – is available under one roof at the FABRIC (Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center). Tempe, a nonprofit organization with definite views on making Arizona a go-to source for entrepreneurs in the fashion industry.

The fashion incubator, business accelerator, design studio, academy and manufacturer together are located in the former Tempe Performing Arts Center at 132 E. 6th St.

“The bottom line here is that we can do it all under one roof,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder of FABRIC Tempe. “Launching a clothing line is difficult. It is extraordinarily expensive. The odds are really stacked against you. You can get help here.

Everything you need to be successful in the fashion industry is under one roof at FABRIC Tempe.

So far, FABRIC’s biggest fame has been making over half a million FDA approved Level 2 and 3 reusable isolation gowns earlier this year for health professionals at their peak. of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 100 sewing machines were on the floor of the headquarters. The dresses can be worn and washed 100 times.

“Reusable gowns have kept 60,000,000 disposable gowns out of landfills,” said Sherri Barry, co-founder of the association. “The gowns have also helped reduce costs for healthcare providers of all sizes, with a lower price per wash than a disposable gown. “

It attracted the visit and recognition of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

FABRIC Tempe provides training, advice, innovative industry resources, and access to no-minimum manufacturing to build sustainable fashion businesses with the goal of making Arizona a modern fashion capital by establishing a closed-loop, sustainable and technology-based ecosystem. that attracts and supports clothing brands that cater directly to consumers.

And now, the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit is expanding its reach to all corners of Arizona and beyond with its recent launch of a subscription website,, available everywhere and at all times, and a course and resource manager. The website brings to career hopes in the fashion industry the one thing the best fashion schools don’t offer: how to become their own production manager.

FABRIC Tempe’s new website,, brings knowledge, even to remote places, on how to become a production manager in the fashion industry.

Johnson and Barry expect the unique new website to become their new signature identity by providing knowledge that is not found in fashion schools.

“They don’t teach you the real things you need to know to take a product from idea to development,” Barry said.

Johnson added that design schools are more theory and art oriented.

“We have videos and hands-on lessons,” Johnson said. “Nobody has that. It’s like a whole new thing, and it’s the future of the industry. The digital roadmap will make a huge difference for newbies. It really demystifies the steps involved in producing your designs. Accessing our program is like having your own virtual production manager, quality controller, technical designer, branding / marketing expert and business coach guiding you every step of the way.

“We’re just different from the big fashion schools. They certainly have their place and we like to partner with them. We teach more practical skills that you wouldn’t learn in these schools and normally learn on the job as a production manager. So this is information that few people have the opportunity to learn from the start.

The fabric without minimum and in small batches is available from FABRIC Tempe.

Although is a subscription service, it is still significantly cheaper than a reputable fashion school, according to Barry and Johnson, and scholarships have already been awarded to hundreds of minority and underserved entrepreneurs to access. to the site.

“We believe that FABRIC Tempe’s efforts will go a long way toward establishing Arizona as the capital of the modern fashion industry for boutique brands and apparel entrepreneurs,” said Johnson said.

The online component complements the range of resources housed at the FABRIC Tempe headquarters for those who live close enough to access the facilities in downtown Tempe:

Everything from yoga pants to wedding dresses was made in the building.


Barry, an identical twin, became interested in fashion design because her parents had dressed her and her sister the same way when they were young. They hated him.

Sherri Barry

“We were constantly ripping our clothes and doing things to them to make them different,” she said.

Ultimately, Barry would win an international design competition that launched his career.

Johnson’s passion was to create space for small brands that make niche products in small batches.

“Every once in a while one of the designers catches my eye and says, ‘I just want you to know that with FABRIC I can run a business here in Arizona,’ Johnson said.

“It’s the kind of thing that arouses emotions and makes me cry. When a designer tells you something like that, his life has changed. All that work every day, when we do things like flushing the toilet, these are the kinds of things we have to think about.

Angela Johnson

Barry added that FABRIC Tempe is now receiving calls from across the country.

“It used to be just in Arizona,” she said. “Because we live it everyday, we know what’s going on here and how special it is. What I’m most grateful for is that others are starting to recognize him.

“It’s madness and it’s just fueled by fashion and common sense and no sleep.”

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