LAWRENCE — Ten startup companies were featured at Mass Innovation Nights hosted by IndusPAD Wednesday night.
An event aimed at creating visibility of local startups and entrepreneurs, while also offering them connections and networking opportunities, the 123rd Mass Innovation Nights welcomed startups that focus on selling apparel or textiles.
It was the first one to be held in Lawrence.
"We are tapping into the community and asking people to share their networks," said Bobbie Carlton, founder of Mass Innovation Nights. "The goal is to encourage people to use their social media to get out the word about the cool products that they see."
Carlton founded Mass Innovation Nights following the economic recession in 2008. Finding herself out of a job, she started the events at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham.
The museum used to host Innovation Days, which featured old products like typewriters and printing presses. Carlton thought if she featured newer products at something called Innovation Nights, people would be more drawn to the event, and the museum.
Ten years later, Carlton has helped promote and market hundreds of startups through her monthly events, and the power of social media.
"My goal is really visibility and connections for the startups," she said.
The startups featured at Wednesday's event were Magnomer, CathWear, Hope Sews, IG MODA, Southwick, gunaPAJAMA, Keysie, Terracea, Acadia Deerskin Chukka Boot, and Laced Boston.
People in attendance were able to speak with the founders of each startup to learn about their products, and the reasons behind their formations. They were encouraged to cast votes on their favorite.
Four of the startups were chosen prior to the event to give five-minute presentations on their products. Carlton said they earned the right to present through online voting.
Maya Mutalik, 20, a student at Babson College, was one of the four founders chosen to give a presentation on her company. Her startup – called Hope Sews – sells chic, modern clothing made from authentic Ghanaian fabrics and prints.
Mutalik said her social enterprise was sparked by a seamstress named Vida whom she met in Ghana on a service trip in 2017. Fascinated by her work, Mutalik asked her to use the fabrics she bought at a market to create an outfit.
When Mutalik found out Vida did not own an electric sewing machine, which would help in expanding her business, she realized the two could pair up and benefit from one another. Vida, a talented seamstress, and Mutalik, who has a creative eye for designing, now call themselves Hope Sews.
"I've never seen myself as a designer, but it's been really fun," said Mutalik, who studies business in college.
Hope Sews uses a percentage of its profits to provide small loans to seamstresses in financial hardships, so they can get the necessities they need such as electric sewing machines. They now manufacture in New York City and sell dresses, skirts, bags and tops.
The other three startups chosen to present were CathWear, Keysie and Magnomer.
CathWear provides medical undergarments for people who want to keep their leg bags discrete. Keysie eases the burden of constantly misplacing keys by providing easy, clip-on bags to hold keys and small items. Magnomer offers magnetizable inks for plastic packaging, allowing items to be recycled.
Purnima Dey, chief of strategic alliances and community outreach at IndusPAD, said the company hosted the event to support local entrepreneurs.
"We believe in the mission and vision of Mass Innovation Nights in providing a platform to innovators of today, for tomorrow," she said. "The synergy between our roles are difficult to ignore."
Dey said an active event like the one held Wednesday brings Lawrence in the limelight and shows the company's support for the community.
IndusPAD is an innovation center that provides the relationships and resources startups need not only in their early stages, but as they continue to progress. Dey said the company has historical roots in its location at the old Malden Mills and hopes to recharge and restructure the region through its work.