Our Mission & Approach
The Paper Fig Foundation is the charitable initiative of New York City based event management and production firm, LDJ Productions. Its mission is to use Fashion and Fine Arts as an engine for economic empowerment and job creation in East Africa and beyond. We have developed two pillar programs that operate in tandem. Macro Approach (Urban): Industry Innovation, Fashion Week Platform Development, Master Classes, and a Hands-on Fellowship Program. Micro Approach (Rural): Using Fashion and related arts as a vehicle for women's empowerment through technical skills training.
Fashion Platform Development (city) | Fashion Weeks
The urban empowerment pillar focuses on “fashion as a platform” and the building of organized fashion events (fashion weeks). These serve as conduits to assist designers in presenting their collections to the global fashion industry. By using the foundation's network, which includes LDJ Productions, the agency producers of New York Fashion Week, these fashion platforms receive first-hand industry blueprints from experts. The foundation partners with local event organizers and designers to share best practices on overall event logistics, marketing, technical production, budgeting, model casting, branding, and product showcasing.
Fashion Platform Development (city) | Master Classes
Paper Fig works closely with vital industry stakeholders that include: designers, technical production staff, models, photographers, and business managers. The foundation team provides hands-on training through master classes and workshops in pattern making, draping, sizing, pricing, branding, and other skills needed for designers and entrepreneurs to be competitive in the global fashion industry. This sustainable community development initiative focuses on large-scale job creation that has the potential to significantly impact the region. Master classes have taken place in Kigali, Rwanda, Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya.
Skills Training (Rural) | sewing
Programming in the rural communities has two main objectives. 1) To provide training in sewing and related arts to women and girls who have left school and are at risk of early marriage, human trafficking, and severe poverty. 2) To fill a void in the urban market by preparing skilled workers to support the emerging fashion industry. The foundation seeks to create an "Invisible Thread" that connects rural communities with urban markets, initiating long-term, sustainable relationships. The “Invisible Thread” will foster economic development with a focus on job creation and partnerships within the country.
Paper Fig Fellows
The foundation provides fellowships for individuals to travel to New York during New York Fashion Week as well as within Africa to work alongside professionals and experts in the industry. During their fellowship in New York, each fellow shadows designers, backstage technicians, scenic artists, A/V crew, and lighting specialists. They are immersed in an in-depth, behind-the-scenes experience at the largest fashion event in the world. Fellows are expected to take back best practices and insight gained from the experience to their respective countries to further advance their own programs.
Paper Fig is currently working on the challenge of collecting reliable data to show the impact of the industry on the overall economy. With the goal of sustainable and broad-reaching community development, the foundation will concentrate on the parallel between urban fashion programs and the rural community initiatives. Creating long-term, sustainable partnerships is the impetus for this objective.