The BF+DA brought together an amazing group of passionate, smart and ambitious people. We thank each of them for being a part of our success and look forward to what they will bring to the world next. Bon chance!


Debera Johnson

Former BF+DA Founder & Executive Director

Areas of expertise:

Speaking: Technology+Sustainability
Research and Development: Smart Garments and Textiles, Manufacturing
Facilitation: Dynamic experiences for learning and innovating
Leading: Collaborative projects and fundraising

My role at the BF+DA has been defined by establishing and building relationships with people with a mission to make the future better. With over 30 years of experience building and leading teams, strategic planning, fundraising and teaching design and creating experiences. I have a reputation for taking ambitious ideas and putting them into practice. I define success using three criteria: does it align with the core values established for the project, have we created a replicable model and has it been powered by collaboration.Full-time Tenured Faculty, Department of Industrial Design, Pratt Institute

  • Full-time Tenured Faculty, Department of Industrial Design, Pratt Institute
  • Founder, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Founder, Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability
  • Founder, Center for Sustainable Design Strategies at Pratt
  • Founder, Pratt Design Incubator
  • Department Chair, Industrial Design, Pratt Institute

Contact Deb Johnson here.

Richa Agarwal

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

As a social entrepreneur, this Gandhian principle has guided my work at the intersection of the global apparel industry, education and human development. I have led global teams for various organizations including fashion companies, international NGOs and Foundations. Blending my design + engineering background, as the Managing Director of the BF+DA, I am catalyzing cultural change so business value is measured by a triple-bottom line benefiting all stakeholders.

Amy DuFault

Former BF+DA Communications Director

Areas of expertise:

Speaking: Fashion, Sustainability, Regenerative Farming,  Carbon Farming, Hemp, Regional Production
Communications: Sustainable Fashion Journalist, PR/Communications
Consulting: Natural Dyes, Regional Production, Carbon Farming
Events: Experiential Events Around Food, Fibers and Farming

I am a sustainable fashion writer that has written over the past 12 years for everyone from The Guardian to Participant Media. I love being able to get people to think about where things come from and who made them and storytelling and events have always been my most effective medium.

At the BF+DA, I co-created and put into play many of the exciting events people came to over the past 5 years alongside Executive Director Deb Johnson. From art exhibits and film screenings, to high level conversations and our yearly Positive Impact Awards, the intention was to educate and give hope for the future of fashion.

People reach out to me to consult on exciting ideas, experiential events, sustainable fashion resources, regional supply chains, and really cool projects. Email me here.

Christine Billard

Opportunities to learn, teach others, and experience the world with new eyes each morning is what motivates me. I have a problem-solving mentality that keeps my brain focused not just on societal problems, but more importantly the development of solutions, especially in the realm of public policy. 

As the Space and Program Coordinator at the BF+DA, I support the our community by coordinating internal and external events focused on sustainable education, improving industry standards, and rethinking product consumption.

  • Space and Program Coordinator,  Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • 5+ years in luxury fashion as an artwork designer and patternmaker
  • Garment and textile manufacturing
  • A/V theatre technician for events and classes

Kelly Puertas

From spinning my own yarn to seeing the final product on the runway, I have a deep love and appreciation for the entire life cycle of a knitted garment. I hope to share my passion and knowledge with others to help them transform their designs from sketch to finished product.

With over ten years experience in the fashion industry, I have worn many hats as a manager of sampling and production, senior knitwear tech designer and experienced knitwear designer for men, women and children’s apparel. These experiences helped me achieve complete fluency in sweater construction, yarn composition and stitch structure. At the BF+DA, I analyze and implement design solutions while overseeing the knitwear product development from concept to production. My goal is to educate our designers on cost effective knitting techniques and finishes while maintaining zero waste manufacturing.

  • Knitwear Director, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Knitwear Sample and Production Manager, Stoll FTNY
  • Senior Knitwear Tech Designer, Stoll FTNY
  • Knitwear Designer/Director for RTW, Contemporary, Better and Mass Market
  • Creator, “Foundation of Shaped Knitwear”
  • Mentor, Start-up designers

Tara St James

Speaking: Ethical Fashion, Circular Design Thinking & Sustainable Textiles

Research & Development: Textile Sourcing & Manufacturing

Facilitation: Design for Sustainable Manufacturing Workshop

Leading: Circular Design Thinking & Sustainable Textile Research

I believe the people who manipulate the materials we use are just as important as the quality and sustainability of those materials. That has been a driving force in my business and personal life. As a fashion designer with over 20 years experience producing both domestically and overseas, I have developed a vast understanding of a variety of production systems and manufacturing techniques. My role as production coordinator and research fellow at the BF+DA was to facilitate designers’ experience through sampling and production, sourcing better materials and understanding their role in the larger system. This experience has provoke me to launch the Re:Source Library, a sustainable textile library, sourcing service and consultancy located in Manhattan’s garment district.

  • Founder, Re:Source Library
  • Production Coordinator & Research Fellow | Zero Waste Manufacturing, Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator
  • Founder & Creative Director, Study NY
  • Educator in Sustainable Design Certificate, Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Head of Sample Room & New Development, Brooklyn Denim Company
  • Co-Founder & Creative Director, Covet

Contact Tara here.

Carolyn Shafer

Former BF+DA Sustainability Mentor + S.Lab Consultant

Areas of expertise:

Speaking: Life Cycle Thinking + Sustainable Design Strategies
Research and Development: Life Cycle Assessment

Carolyn is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Design Strategies (CSDS), the research and resource whose mission is to support sustainability at Pratt Institute. Carolyn has acted as project manager for a number of CSDS Industry and Research projects, coordinates the annual Sustainability Crash Course as part of Pratt’s Green Week event series, and runs the Pratt GiveTake, and art supply reuse program for students. Carolyn also teaches Life Cycle Assement in the Sustainable Environmental Systems Graduate Program.

At the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA) Carolyn developed resources and provided mentorship to integrate Life Cycle Thinking into the design process including the Sustainable Fashion Roadmap. Her role at the BF+DA was to mentor Venture Fellows around their sustainability mission using her knowledge of Life Cycle Assessment Tools, Sustainable Design Strategies, and Environmental Impacts of various materials. Carolyn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Engineering (Smith College) and a Master’s degree in Industrial Design (Pratt Institute).

Roberto Silva

Former BF+DA Senior Sample Maker and Sewer

Areas of Expertise:

Garment Construction: Strong technical knowledge of garment construction, patterns, specifications sheets,
sewing techniques, silhouettes, trims, fabrications, and fit.

Advanced sewing skills with all type of fabrics, both by hand and utilizing straight-stitch, overlock and cover-stitch sewing machines to support the construction of the garment.

Extensive experience working with pattern makers to develop and correct patterns based on fabric selection and garment construction demands.

As Head Sample Maker at the BF+DA, my responsibilities included cutting, sewing and hand finishing clothing samples for various designers from fitting/1st sample, sales samples, and sewing of small production runs. In addition, I worked closely with the pattern-maker to make adjustments that would ensure better and easier construction of the garment.

As a tailor at Brooklyn Denim Company I created samples for the main collection and various designers that have hired the company for sample construction and small production. This included pattern correction, cutting, sewing and hand finishing. I also supported the sales staff with the
execution of basic alterations for jeans, pants, tops and outerwear.

To consult on your next project, contact Roberto Silva at 646 334-0603 410 or email

Zoe Hochman

Production Sewer

Logan Blagg

Former BF+DA Sample & Production Sewer

Areas of expertise:

Sewing: Samples or Small run productions (>20) of following:

Shirts, dresses, tote bags, napkins

*Anything involving straight stitch machine

Custom Design: One of a kind, custom pieces created in majority scrap fabric/materials and appropriate sizing based on existing silhouettes. See

Sewing Instructor: Currently teaching children how to sew, but want to share the skill with others who love the art and want to enhance their experience

I consider eco-friendly fashion to be the only fashion. I strongly believe in environmental/ethical responsibility, and I am passionate about furthering/spreading my knowledge in these fields.

These values led me to the BF+DA as a Sample/ Production Sewer, where I gathered more information on construction, zero-waste techniques, and other nuances of production.

My mission moving forward is to dress like-minded souls without contributing to the waste of the industry AND to help other designers who have this same dream.

  • Sample & Production Sewer, BF+DA
  • Design Instructor, Children’s After-school Program
  • Design Volunteer, Road2Argentina
  • Assistant Manager/Alterations Specialist, Straight Grain Studio

Contact Logan here. 


Kristen Faber

Junior Knitwear Programmer

Samanta Cortes

Former BF+DA Technical Embroidery Specialist

Speaking: Creative Smart Designing + Sustainable Manufacturing

Research And Development: Textile Design and Manufacturing in Embellishment and Embroidery Industries

Facilitation: Creative vision on innovative smart design

With over 20 years experience in the NYC Garment Center and as Founder, Executive Director of Save the Garment Center, I enjoy  consulting for the composite, home furnishings and apparel industries through my extensive work with the NYC Garment Center as well as an embroidery textile designer. While working with couture to mid-sized companies, I also have a long-standing history helping brands design with a price point that feels comfortable for them. I am committed to bringing manufacturing back to the USA, and continue to work locally and internationally to raise awareness of the importance of domestic manufacturing as it relates to local economic development.

I am also developing an educational venture focused on training to students open to working with new industrial equipment with a focus on domestic manufacturing.

  • BF+DA t.LAB – Technical Embroidery Specialist
  • Co-host Material is your Business MouthMedia Podcast
  • Founder, Fashion Design Concepts
  • Founder,
  • President, Fashion News Workshop
  • Board member, Color Association of the US
  • Creative Consultant, Schmatta; Rag to Riches to Rags, an HBO Documentary.

For staff education on manufacturing contact Samanta at

Karyn Lao

Knitwear Apprentice