Pratt Institute’s 5 Year Experiment in Changing an Industry Moves On

Debera Johnson, Founder and BF+DA Executive Director

After five years of experimentation and leadership in sustainable fashion practices, research, and entrepreneurship, the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA) will be shutting its doors on June 30th.

Pratt Institute plans to integrate many of the lessons learned from the BF+DA into the curriculum and student experience at Pratt.

“The BF+DA has taught us so much through its research,” Anita Cooney, Pratt Institute’s Dean of the School of Design reflected, “and we are excited to bring that work and its hi-tech operations into our school to be incorporated into our programs in Fashion Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design.”

The BF+DA is a community of entrepreneurs, industry professionals and innovators who are concerned about the future of the planet and passionate about human rights. The group is intent on making change in the fashion industry and the BF+DA provided a space to make those dreams a reality.

The current leadership team includes Founder and Executive Director, Debera Johnson, Pratt’s academic sustainability leader, Carolyn Shafer, Production Coordinator, Tara St James, Knitwear Director, Kelly Puertas, Communications Director, Amy DuFault, Managing Director, Richa Agarwal and Christine Billard, Space and Program Coordinator. Most of the team has been with the BF+DA since its founding in 2013.

“The BF+DA has benefited from the efforts of amazingly talented people who believe in our vision to redefine the apparel industry. Each has helped to build a remarkable place that will leave an indelible mark of hope for our future,” says Founder and Executive Director, Debera Johnson.

Over the past 5 years, the BF+DA has accomplished many milestones including launching 37 businesses, supporting 40 researchers, welcoming over 18,000 people into the space to learn, think and act on sustainability through events and classes. The BF+DA Production Lab has provided apparel manufacturing to brands throughout New York City who want to integrate sustainable strategies and supply chains into their products. Its most recent initiative, the TEK-TILES Project, focused on functional garments and experimental textiles that used technology to promote health and well-being.

“The BF+DA has been an international beacon for ethical design and entrepreneurship and its legacy will persist. Each member of our core team, staff and community will continue to work for change in the industry. It’s been an honor to work alongside each other to build something so incredibly meaningful and I’m excited to see what happens next for each of us,” says Johnson.

There are so many people to thank for their early and ongoing support: first and foremost Pratt Institute, Brooklyn Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Marty Markowitz, and Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York. We also want to thank industry partners Shima Seiki, Alvanon, ZSK and our brilliant and generous advisors and mentors.

Heartfelt thanks go out to the rest of the BF+DA team: Roberto Silva, Maya Blevins, Zoe Hochman, Logan Blagg, Kristen Faber, Samanta Cortes, Aaron Trocola, Owen Trueblood, Karyn Lao, our amazing interns and consultants. We are inspired by our community of Venture Fellows who are committed to growing sustainable brands.

The BF+DA will be hosting a final event June 3rd. Hold the date! (Details to come soon)

For more information and press inquiries, contact Amy DuFault at