The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The world's trusted guide to sustainable and ethical fashion

The Top 5 Small Business Grants Fashion Designers Should Know

By Nia Thomas, an African-American designer based in Brooklyn, New York

Have you ever dreamt about waking up one morning and magically have $10,000 in your bank account to spend on your own business?

As a New York City based designer of ethically produced clothing and accessories myself, I know firsthand how bootstrapping the initial costs of building a business can only take you so far. From hiring a brand manager to expanding my supply chain, having a marketing budget and attending costly trade shows, these steps are necessary to grow your brand but expensive to fully self-fund.

In these uncertain economic times, every dollar counts when running your own startup. Even before the COVI9-19 crisis, with the financial stress paying back student loans and mortgages, fewer and fewer people were taking the traditional route of applying for small business loans or business credit cards. Instead, you can turn to grants, which you aren’t responsible for paying back. Now grants are looking even more important for weathering the challenge of a disrupted supply chain and lowered customer demand. For me, grant money has aided me in taking advantage of opportunities to expand my business.

Understandably, the competition for small-business grants is intense, and it takes extensive time and determination to win them. But, if you’re up for the task, the payoff can be well worth your investment.

If you already have a plan for how you would wisely spend grant money for your business, then here are the top five grants you should apply to as a small business or designer:


Bumble Community Grant

In their words: “Small businesses are in a tough position due to COVID-19. We at Bumble want to help as much as we possibly can. Until April 9th, you can submit a request for your business to receive up to $5,000 in monetary support from Bumble. We’ll support 200 businesses in 11 countries. If you’re not a small business owner, you can still nominate a company in need. (And if you have the means to do so, please keep supporting your local businesses!)”

Eligibility requirements: Have a small business.

What you get if you win: Up to $5,000

How to apply: Head into the Bumble app in any mode – Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, or Bumble Bizz – and match with the Bumble Community Grants profile.

Application deadline: April 9th 2020


Hello Alice Business For All Grant

In their words: “$250,000 in grants will be awarded to Business for All applicants, as a critical step towards tackling entrepreneurs’ single greatest barrier to growth: access to capital. Grantees will be selected by an esteemed council of leaders from across the business ecosystem, representing diverse organizations, industries, locations and demographics.’’

Eligibility requirements: 

  • Legal resident of the U.S., excluding Puerto Rico.
  • At least 18 years of age or older.
  • A legal for-profit business entity based in the U.S.
  • Applicant must be the business owner who is the Founder and/or leading executive (President, CEO, CFO, COO, or any such other similar title.)

What you get if you win: 

  • One grand prize winner will receive a $50,000 business grant
  • Two runners up will each receive a $25,000 business grant
  • Twelve finalists will each receive a $10,000 business grant
  • Three business / entrepreneur support organizations (nominated by you!) will each receive a $10,000 grant to continue their work in supporting business owners

How to apply: Sign up here.

Application deadline: TBD


Tory Burch Foundation Grant

In their words: “$250,000 in grants Designed for women entrepreneurs – providing the community of support you need to connect, learn, and grow your business.’’

Eligibility requirements:

  • A woman entrepreneur who owns a majority stake in a qualifying business and manages it on a day-to-day basis
  • 21 years or older as of application due date
  • Proficient in English
  • A legal resident of the United States
  • For-profit business, from any industry
  • Early-stage business (one to five years of operations preferred)
  • Generating revenues (minimum of $75,000 in the past 12-months
  • Formed under United States law and operating in the United States

What you get if you win: Up to $5,000

How to apply: Apply online on Tory Burch’s website.

Application deadline: TBD


The Halstead Grant

In their words: “The Halstead Grant is an annual award for emerging silver jewelry artists. The experience is designed to help jewelry entrepreneurs create a strategy to kick-start their careers.”

Eligibility requirements: Applicants submit answers to 15 business questions in addition to their design portfolios.

What you get if you win: $7,500 cash grant plus other benefits.

How to apply: Apply here.

Application deadline: August 1st, 2020


Girlboss Foundation Grant

In their words: “Since launching in 2014, the Girlboss Foundation has awarded over $130,000 in financial grants to female-identifying entrepreneurs, empowering them to turn their innovative ideas into the companies that will shape the future.”

Eligibility requirements: 

  • Female identifying.
  • Creatives in the worlds of design, fashion, music, and the arts pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • U.S resident.
  • 18 years or older by the close of the submission window.

What you get if you win: Project funding of $15,000, plus exposure through the Girlboss platform and community, as well as local and regional press.

How to apply: Sign up here.

Application deadline: June 1st 2020


Nia Thomas is an African-American designer based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in slow fashion and thoughtful accessories for all beings that appreciate ethical artisanal practices and wearable art. You can see more of Nia’s handmade work from her namesake brand on her website


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