Falling Together at the Seams
Berny Martin and his company, Catou, deliver fashion design, style consulting and custom tailoring to a global customer base. With worldwide reach, Martin has spent the last fifteen years traveling the globe to fill client demands, find new sources of inspiration, and grow the visibility of his brand. Understandably, 2020 dramatically impacted this business model, reducing the custom design revenue to less than 20%. With major travel restrictions in place, forced grounding allowed Martin to explore three new opportunities that have redefined Catou’s product and services.
Leasing a showroom out of New York City, Catou pivoted to operating the coveted property to stage photo shoots, create media for press kits, and consulting sessions. As production of movies and television shows continue, Catou has discovered a novel opportunity to work with celebrities participating in private photo shoots.
“We do a lot of style rebranding where we give actors new look photo shoots, so that when you google them it matches their character image in the new film. For example, we styled the guy an actor from Fear the Walking Dead (Tom Payne) and changed his image from ‘rough hero’ to ‘fine, young, and fashion forward.”
Martin hopes to expand this venture and contract with one of the larger streaming services producing the bulk of new content.
Devoted to sharing his love for fashion and instilling self-efficacy and confidence in the under-served, Martin launched the first iteration of his charity, Fashion Community Foundation; an innovative, hands-on training program providing the opportunity to learn practical (hard) skills in fashion design and industry communication (soft skills) to set young people up for independence through tangible work experience.
“Through our not-for-profit organization, we gave scholarships to twelve women in Somaliland, Africa to cover the 6-week cosmetology course. The scholarship helps support the women with courses and pay for the materials that they would need in order to finalize their studies. We hope to bring a similar program to Indiana and the rest of the Midwest.”
Easing into its first year, the program has already exceeded expectations, they received over 200 applications from Somaliland women.
Closer to home, Martin has been working with our local Procurement and Technical Assistance (PTAC) office, as well as Indiana’s Secretary of State to become an approved vendor for state-wide uniform bids. With experience in tailoring restaurant uniforms, Martin is excited to expand his production to utility clothing. “I spent my early career in textile manufacturing. I know how clothes are created and made and what manufacturers like and do not like. For example, adding a single button can flip an entire production line. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Berny holds a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences from Purdue University and is a graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology.