Decades after stepping onto the proverbial runway of her career calling, Frances J. Harder is still making multiple strides motivated by her personal motto, “Passion for fashion.” Heavily influenced while growing up by her father, a textile engineer, and her mother, a fashion designer for her uncle who owned a factory, Ms. Harder initially planned a career in graphic design, yet her mother implored her that pursing fashion design would ensure that she’d always know how to sew for her children. Heeding the advice while weaving in a solid educational foundation earning a Bachelor of Arts in fashion, with honors, from the University of Salford, in the United Kingdom, today, Ms. Harder is a curriculum advisor of fashion programs and an adjunct professor at California Polytechnic State University as well as the founder, president, and owner of Fa$hion for Profit Consulting in California.
Ms. Harder thrives in the fashion and education arenas, bolstered by her professional mission to make a difference by educating people and consulting with others working in fashion to make running their businesses less stressful. She has advised numerous colleges, which has included sitting on the dean’s advisory board for the merchandising department at California Polytechnic State University. With an expert’s eye, she provides clients and students with wise, helpful overviews and insights into the latest happenings in the fashion industry as it relates to design, product development, marketing, manufacturing, and most everything that goes into producing garments. Ms. Harder’s prowess has garnered widespread respect, including the distinction of being consistently named to the Los Angeles’ Most Influential People list in California Apparel News, TLM Publishing Corp., between 2000 and 2018.
Having established deep and longstanding relationships at all levels in the industry, she is a consultant with the International Trade Centre, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and an apparel business and design consultant with various companies in England. Ms. Harder also serves as an expert witness regarding industry-related issues such as chargebacks, trademarks, copyrights, trade dress, trade secrets, patent infringement issues, and research and development. As a designer, she was tapped to produce two fashion lines for Priscilla Presley working with the Home Shopping Network.
During the past 20-plus years, Ms. Harder has shared her knowledge through creative works in the United States, England, Canada, Nepal, Peru, Egypt and other worldwide locations and as either a presenter, organizer, or moderator at various national and international trade shows. They include, yet not limited to, MAGIC International, the Apparel Textile Sourcing Show, Hong Kong World Boutique, the LA Textile Show, Phoenix Fashion Week, Emerald Exposition, ASD Market Week, and others. Furthermore, as an authority, Ms. Harder educates the public through her own Harder Publications company, which has published titles that she has authored such as “Costing for Profit,” “Fashion for Profit: From Design Concept to Apparel Manufacturing and Retailing – A Professional’s Complete Guide, 10th Edition,” “Brand Building for Profit,” and the “Forms for Profit,” CD-ROM.
Ms. Harder’s extensive experience spanning four decades prepared her well for her current roles. A mere sampling of her previous positions has been as an adjunct Professor at Woodbury University, a consultant with the training center at Microsoft, associate professor at the Otis College of Arts and Design, a freelance technical designer and fashion designer for various entities, designer of her own junior contemporary fashion line, department chair for the fashion program at The Art Institute of California, a faculty member at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and many other key positions in the U.S. and abroad. Merging her profession with civic responsibility, Ms. Harder was the founder and president of Fashion Business Incorporated for 18 years and a member of the District Export Council of the Federal Trade Commission for six years. She also often donates to charities.
Ms. Harder believes her success is the result of enjoying her work, being open to networking, her willingness to change especially when opportunities arise, recognizing opportunities and striving to do her best to make them work for her and others. Peering forward, she expects to continue consulting with new companies to help them flourish, conducting seminars, and serving as an expert witness for industry-related legal issues.
While proud of her accomplishments, most important to Ms. Harder is her family. She is married with two grown, professionally successful children and has two grandchildren. In her personal time, she paints, presents art exhibitions, and exercises.