Taking her experience working for apparel powerhouses throughout her 30-year career, Jamie Koff founded Fabric To Finish in 2006 to establish product development consulting as the new paradigm to bring budding designers from the runway to reality.
Immediately after graduating from The George Washington University, Jamie packed her bags, moved to New York City, and landed her first job working for J. Crew as a production coordinator. Here, Jamie was schooled in the fundamentals of product development and international garment production. Soon after, she grew up through the ranks of Tommy Hilfiger, where she got the first taste of her entrepreneurial passion while being given the rare opportunity to help start several divisions during the company’s most formative years.
She then went on to fill leadership roles in other notable companies such as DKNY Jeans, Sean John, and Polo Jeans Company. She has created and managed fabric and development departments for some of the industry’s finest designers. She has traveled extensively worldwide to work on-site with the global supply chain within each reputable organization.
Outside of her active professional life, Jamie strives to balance her work life with her philanthropic endeavors. Jamie says she is honored to have served for more than 10 years as Co-Chairperson of the American Cancer Society’s Taste of Hope gala committee, a cause near and dear to her heart, and is now proudly acting as Co-Chairperson of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s Hamptons Happening, another esteemed Cancer research institution raising much-needed funds for cancer research.
Jamie lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and can oftentimes be found in a SoulCycle class or taking in a Broadway show. This year marked the 16th anniversary of Fabric to Finish and Jamie’s 30th year of living in the heart of it all!
About Fabric To Finish: The New York City-based company specializes in global design, product development, and production management for independent and emerging designers
“Fabric To Finish is the collective fabric, sourcing, design, production, and technical departments that most new apparel companies cannot afford to house internally,” Jamie explains. “We assume those roles and functions on a consultancy basis while keeping clients’ overhead low and operational needs in check.”
In addition to servicing the emerging designer, Fabric To Finish is also retained by established brands seeking to accommodate new levels of growth outside of their core competencies, whether in launching new divisions or establishing an entirely new sourcing strategy and infrastructure.
“We bring an endless arsenal of global industry relationships for support and opportunity wherever necessary in the supply chain,” adds the Philadelphia native who has made Manhattan her home. “Our finger is constantly on the pulse of what’s happening worldwide. While our passion lies in accommodating the independent and emerging designer market, our global supply chain reaches all major manufacturing portals. It can handle mass-produced quantities to account for larger-sized companies at the other end of the spectrum.”
Click here to learn more: fabric2finish.com
Scroll down for our Q&A with Jamie and learn What’s Next for this truly amazing woman!
Photo of Jamie Koff by Alan Zilote
What’s Next: 4 Questions for Fashionista and Entrepreneur Jamie Koff
A Q&A with Your What’s Next Journal authors Hope Katz Gibbs and Cynthia de Lorenzi
Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business/industry and where it was before the pandemic hit in March 2020. And where are you now?
Jamie: Before the pandemic, things were very stable and ordinary. We knew what was coming in November/December of 2019, so we started to feel a change earlier than most from the supply chain side. We are now 180 because our client base generally falls into the e-comm category. They were never beholden to retail as a traditional wholesale distribution model. Therefore, while they were affected by lockdowns, life changes, and tremendous amounts of loss, they weren’t affected by a total stop of business because they were beholden to a store holding merchandise hostage. Nobody was allowed to go in and purchase. Since the pandemic, we’ve expanded! We took over the office next to us and grew exponentially. For that, I’m grateful.
Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time?
Jamie: I had just returned from Europe on a business trip where I wore an N-95 mask for the first time because I knew what was coming. And the irony is that I left Italy right when the explosion of COVID was happening there. That was February 19, 2020. On March 13, 2020, we closed our office, and on March 15, 2020, I woke up with a 103 fever and started my COVID journey.
My short-term goals at the time were not to die, lol. But ultimately, my short-term goals were to stay afloat; to apply for any loan, I could get to keep the business running and operating to pay my staff, contractors, and all of the bills. My long-term goals were to reinvigorate new business opportunities by identifying new revenue streams.
My idea at the time was to establish a new target prospective client that was embedded in the social media space, and the idea that social media influencers are a direct conduit to a customer without a middleman of a store with restrictions was intriguing to me. And so, my target for my team, as we were working remotely, was to identify those social media influencers that would benefit from building their collection that they could distribute and market under their name, as opposed to being paid to market someone else’s product, under that “other product’s” name.
Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, and your heart?
Jamie: I have a lot of thoughts and not enough paper to jot them down on! My industry surprised me, but I’m not so surprised about that because there have been such changes in the past 30 years of being embedded; the pandemic pushed everybody over the edge. Yet, I started my business 16 years ago to push everybody over the edge in a different way. So, I’m not suggesting that I reinvented the wheel by any means; but creating an opportunity for individuals to launch their collections and brands outside of the normal protocol was breaking all the rules and cutting corners, and creating a microcosm of opportunities for them that they ordinarily wouldn’t have had access.
The pandemic caused everybody to break the rules, and I was always a rule breaker when I first started because I knew there needed to be room for what I wanted to build. So, my thoughts about my business are that there is definitely a place for this business, and it is not going anywhere! That’s what the pandemic taught me.
One of the first things I said to my team in a video chat while I was sick in bed was, “Well, at least it’s not me that ran the business into the ground” because I never wanted to look at myself as a failure. When the pandemic came in, I immediately feared that there might be an end to this. Yet, I guess the support I got through the government and the city and the drive to keep things alive enabled us to resurrect what ordinarily would’ve fallen to pieces.
My thoughts about my personal life and my heart, well, that is a whole volume that I don’t have room to write down, but I’ve certainly learned to balance it all out over the years, and I’m very much thriving and living a beautiful life while building my dream that I have always wanted to do.
Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next?
- For your industry: I think that people are entrepreneurs, and everybody has a valid idea; in the context that falls in the marketplace and has the right to embark on that. I encourage the entrepreneurial energy of what came out of and what went on during the pandemic to continue and to persist because otherwise, there won’t be novelty, newness, and ideation that spark inspiration for everybody.
- For your company: I see very stable growth; our reputation drives people through our door. What I see for my company is a possible investor buyout. Hopefully, I don’t know. I want to grow it to that level.
- I want to lead a more balanced, healthy lifestyle. Travel more and enable my team to grow and flourish while I’m outside the office, growing new opportunities for everybody.
- For the country, the world: For the country and the world, that’s a tough question because we’re in a very difficult time right now, and this goes above and beyond m perspective on industry and politics. I think the world is a very scary place. Until people can wake up in the morning and be grateful rather than resentful and feel love instead of hate, I think we will be in a very unfortunate downward cycle for a long time.
- For women: I think women have exceeded most people’s expectations on the world stage, whether in politics, leadership, industry, education, or local government. I think our voices are being heard, respected, and people are equating us more than ever in this generation. I hope the next generation of women continues to keep the strength and vision of opportunity they know we deserve.
Hope & Cynthia: What question didn’t we ask you?
Jamie: What am I passionate about outside of Fabric to Finish?
That keeps me excited and vibrating high when I’m not at the office. Living and breathing in NY, I’m very passionate about theatre, culture, dining, and culinary arts. One of my biggest passions is being a part of and being at the helm of a big cancer organization and running a big event every summer that raises millions of dollars for direct cancer research, which is a cause very near and dear to my heart. “If you weren’t working, what would you do?” is an interesting question to answer, and that would be I would probably be volunteering full time for the cancer cause and other causes that resonate with me on a social level, a political level, and a national level. I’m happy to be able to dedicate a tremendous amount of my time to this philanthropic and important organization, the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. Our big event is on July 8, 2023, in Bridgehampton, NY, for anyone interested in attending and joining in on an incredible culinary tasting event.