Providing six emerging chicago-based designers in residence with the resources, business acumen, and mentoring to launch their careers in fashion.


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Kpoene’ Kofi-Nicklin is  a Togolese-American bridal designer. After founding Mignonette as a RTW label in 2002, she set her sights on couture and studied at FIT, with stops in SF as a retail and museum buyer along the way honing her skills in retail and customer experience. After moving to Chicago, she relaunched as Mignonette Bridal with the first brick-and-mortar store opening in 2011.Since then, Mignonette Bridal has specialized in timeless designs for brides who want to write their own stories. Kpoene’ has written advice columns for Jezebel, Catalyst, XO Jane, and the Sun Times and has been a contributor to Martha Stewart, AOL, Glamour, and the NY Times. Her gowns have been featured in Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Crains, and the Knot, and Mignonette was named one of the 38 best bridal salons in the US by Brides Magazine (2017), and one of the best salons in Chicago by Brides Magazine, Time Out, Refinery 29, Daily Candy, and Racked. A graduate of Middlebury College, and the Goldman Sachs 10KSB Program, Kpoene’ is passionate about design and the feminist history of clothing, especially wedding gowns; in 2014 she was named an Editor’s Choice Finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Award and in 2016 she received an Artists Grant from the City of Chicago.




A Chicago native and alumnus of The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Cara Farella is European-trained in fine art, fashion and textile design. Cara completed her foundation year at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London and received her BA with honors in fashion and textile engineering from the UK’s prestigious Chelsea School of Art and Design. Dually-trained as a fine artist and fashion/textile designer, Cara incorporates a spectrum of natural elements, including crystal, pearl, stone and forged metals into her designs, creating extraordinary and powerful pieces.  Cara has returned home to Chicago to launch her brand, Cara Maria Farella, Inc., a striking line of richly woven fabrics, stand-out bridal gowns and accessories that blend romantic designs with old world artistry.





In her early years, Barbara worked as a profession model then went on to be a fashion photographer. To go on her fashion photography interviews, she designed a “fashion coat” to wear. That’s when she discovered her talent to be a women’s fashion designer. Barbara says, “Every time I wore that coat, men and women would come up to me to ask me where I got my coat. I could tell by their reactions, that I had a talent for designing and I pursued it. But soon enough I discovered how time consuming and financially challenging that career could be while trying to raise my children so I decided to put my dream on hold until a better time. Then in 2011, I decided to once again pursue my dream to start a women’s fashion line that would raise money for charity which had become another passion of mine.” Barbara called her new fashion line Barbara Keisman Feel Good Fashions because she wanted to let women know that they were buying clothes that were both comfy and for a good cause.





After receiving her BFA in Fashion Design from Columbia College Chicago in 2015, Goli Parvinian went on to work for renowned bridal brands in New Zealand, New York City and Melbourne, Australia. She completed her MBA at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology at the end of 2018 and returned to her hometown of Chicago in order to launch her own bridal brand. Fueled by her love of travel, culture and a nomadic lifestyle, and her desire to utilize her craft to empower women on this pivotal point in their lives, she will be launching Goli June in 2019 through her residency at the CFI.

Goli June is a non-traditional, aesthetically wearable bridal brand that seeks to empower, support and value women, as well as facilitate a fun and painless process of finding a wedding gown. We design gowns, tops, skirts, jumpsuits, blazers, suits and anything else that a real woman needs to feel completely herself walking down the aisle.

We craft each piece to feel unique, comfortable and aesthetically interesting. Our high-quality pieces will have longevity past the wedding night: perhaps worn for the rehearsal dinner, bridal shower, honeymoon, anniversary, or even the following weekend out at brunch. We create quality pieces for the real bride; the individual striving to create a wedding as dynamic as she is and authentic as the love she has for her partner.




Jess Audey
Liz Bahl
Anna Brown
Kate Boggiano
Miriam Cecilia -Carlson
Sarah Church
Concetta Cipriano
brooke conrady
Nora Del Busto-Jewett
shavonne dorsey
Leah Fagan
Christina Fan
Rachel  Frank
Catherine  Furio
Yana German

Agnes Hamerlik

Agga B Raya
Jonnie Rettele
Kristin Rosynek-Hassan
Cynthia  Ryba
Victoria sdoukos
Crystal  Simms

Donaldo Smith
Shelby  Steiner
Masha  Titievsky
Lidia Wachowska
latonya williams
conner writt
Takako  Yamanaka
Gabrielle  Zwick
ashley zygmuNt