Nicole Lau (Policy, ’18) specializes in areas of community development finance and small business growth and is currently an Assistant Vice President at Citi Community Development. 

She is also the Founder of Urban Made Project, an online community platform that aims to educate and inspire discussions on the need for local manufacturing by telling the stories of the people working in New York’s garment industry. The people featured on the site include Adam Brand, the fourth generation owner of M&S Schmalberg, a custom fabric flower manufacturer, and Janet Rodriguez, the founder of SoHarlem, a nonprofit incubator for fashion micro enterprises in Harlem. 

Urban Made Project recently launched a manufacturing and supplier map that provides a snapshot of the City’s manufacturing ecosystem. New York’s garment manufacturers are highly specialized, making the City’s garment industry unique, but challenging to sustain. When a business closes, there is a gap in services that is hard to replace. 

The inspiration behind Urban Made Project came from the desire to share what Nicole has seen and learned from working in the fashion industry and the need to participate in how the city is being shaped. Urban Made Project was launched in 2016 when the City of New York’s planned to rezone the Garment District in midtown.

“From a policy perspective,” says Nicole, “I hope this project can add to the discourse of the garment industry as its future is being contested today. As a body of research, Urban Made Project shows the complexity of the industry and its impact on the people it serves.”