Rightfully Sewn, in partnership with Women’s Business Center, announced its inaugural Kauffman FastTrac® NewVenture scholarship program in January 2016. A group of 11 credentialed panelists of Kansas City’s community leaders selected the five winners (below) Whitney Manney, Ami Beck, Kate Nichols, Heidi Herrman, and myself.

To celebrate our success, Rightfully Sewn organized an evening hosted by Anaphora at Prairiefire, a local boutique showcasing independent international designers. The event was held last Saturday, March 12, 2016, and was attended by more than 100 of KC’s best fashion figures, designers, supporters and community members.

For those of you who couldn't make it to the event, I'd like to share with you my short acceptance speech because I believe it says a lot about where I am in my career and thought process today:

Hello I’m Sarah Nelsen and I’ve been designing in various capacities in Kansas City for the last ten years. I’m very honored to stand here tonight next to women I admire and can call my friends. I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to Rightfully Sewn and to you all — the supporters of our creative community. It is programs like this where I am awed by the love and generosity that our city fosters.
As a designer of women’s clothing one question I am asked often time and again is, “What is your inspiration?” — for this collection, for this garment, for being a designer, you name it. This question is posed rampantly all over the media when it comes to fashion. While I appreciate a curious mind, I feel that inspiration is so fleeting, so temporary. One day I may be inspired by a color, the next a shape or texture and what does this really say about my values as a designer? What I would rather you ask next time is what DRIVES you? This I can happily talk about all day. For me and like the designers I stand alongside of course we are driven to create aesthetically attractive products that fulfill a need (we all have to clothe ourselves), but I am most driven to design for the empowerment of women and the betterment of our environment. I support a system that applauds timeless dressing, the antidote to a throw-away mindset. I function in and am an advocate of “slow fashion.” I believe clothing should ALWAYS be produced domestically and in an ethical and sustainable way. My ideal customer is someone who wants to own and wear and LOVE a piece for many years of their life. I strongly feel that this is the mentality of the future and our job as designers is to care for our community and environment first and foremost. These are the ideals that drive me and my design work. I look forward to hearing you pose this question to others tonight and in the future. I am so excited and PROUD to be part of a growing design community here in Kansas City. Thank you.
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