For two years, Dougherty has been running The New Blak largely as an online enterprise, with some pop-up shops and a mobile boutique as well.
The company began as a designer and manufacturer of “little black dresses,” but Dougherty and her crew of “Girl Bosses” have branched out to offer skirts, vests, cardigans and more.
As previously reported by IL, Dougherty recently secured a storefront in Oxmoor Mall near Yang Kee Noodle. The shop will be open by mid-April.
“Seamstresses will be in the store sewing the clothes. We will have a showroom in the front full of products and the studio in the back is for sewing and the creativity lounge,” she told IL in an email.
“It’s very exciting for us because it’s a larger studio space than we’ve ever had before so we can keep up with the demand we have with our products and provide more seamstresses in Louisville with work.”
Daugherty has launched a Kickstarter to get the store off the ground. For pledges of various amounts, you will receive anything from embroidered artwork ($25+) to a color block vest and the artwork ($50+) to the vest, the artwork, a dress and an invite to a grand opening party ($250).
The colorblock vest retails for $48-$78, depending on the material. The dresses are all around $100 or more.
Currently, the campaign has raised $801 from 20 backers toward a $5,000 goal. There are 10 days left to sign up.
Dougherty has made ample use of crowdfunding over the past two years. She had a previous Kickstarter in which 84 backers pledged $5,147. She also raised another $5,000 for a Kiva loan.
The “manufacturing” part is key to Dougherty’s business model. When she first worked in the mall she picked up on what she considers a destructive side of the retail industry: fast fashion. She realized that in most clothing stores, they stock clothes that are poorly made and designed to go out of style the next time a new line hits the runway.
“You have to keep coming back for more,” she said.
That leads to 13 million tons of clothing ending up in U.S. landfills every year.
“We chose the mall to challenge fast fashion, up close and personal,” Dougherty said. “Many of the ‘upscale’ locations already have local boutiques, whereas the mall has the corporate, fast fashion we are trying to change.”
All clothing at The New Blak is manufactured by hand here in Louisville by women. The company uses 95 percent bamboo fabric, which is sustainable. The clothing is made in small batches and scrap fabric is used to make bracelets, headbands and artwork, so there is little waste.