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Austinites take Egypt: Six local designers debut brands in pop-up abroad

Inside one of the ATX+Egypt entrepreneurs' pop-up shops on 2nd St. last December. (ACC Fashion Incubator)

Six Austin-based fashion designers and entrepreneurs are ‘making it work’ in Cairo, Egypt, where they are showcasing their designs in a pop-up exchange market far away from home.

The designers will return on June 8, completing the final phase of the U.S. Embassy Cairo-funded ATX+Egypt Entrepreneurship Program pilot. The program guided 16 designers—six from Austin and 10 from Egypt—through design education and a professional showcase in each other's home countries to increase global brand awareness.

Austinites Jonathan ‘Chaka’ Mahone of NefrFreshr, Musa Ato of League of Rebels, Christina Fitzgerald of ONLY by Nina Fitzgerald, Margo Dilling of Turtle Cay Island Wear, Cassandra King of CassandraCollections and Randell Jones LNS Crew Productions flew to Cairo to show their collections on May 31 and will stay until June 8.

Director of Austin Community College’s fashion incubator Nina Means told Austonia the Austin-based designers were supposed to open the Cairo pop-up in February, but the event was postponed due to COVID.

Means said the pilot was made possible with a partnership between the city of Austin, the ACC Fashion incubator, Fashion by Texas and Macy’s. Travel fees, rental spaces, needed technology and education on designing for different cultural contexts, management and marketing were all provided free of charge for all 16 participants.

Means said the program has been extremely successful—so much so that representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo reached out to ACC directly to do another round. Means said the project will have another round this year, exchanging more designers with Austin’s sister city of Cairo, but may open the program to other cities abroad in the future.

“The Embassy was really proud and excited about this project, they told the Department of State in Washington how well it went,” Means said. “People were really pleased with it, we brought on some really exciting partners and we're looking forward to doing it again.”

Means said applications for the next round will open sometime this summer.

“The designers here in Austin really deserve to be seen and to scale and grow, and this is a really great way for them to do that,” Means said. “It's an incredible program. They don't pay for anything except for making the product, they get to sell it and keep the money. It really gives Austin brands exposure and opportunity for revenue and spaces that they typically wouldn't have access to.”


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