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Indie Designers

At least that was the thinking Elizabeth Solomeina applied when she was struggling to find a way to show and sell the jewelry she designs without spending huge amounts of money on rent or outsourcing her work to various boutiques.

“I needed a place to sell my stuff, I needed a customer base,” Ms. Solomeina said. “When stylists wanted to come over to my studio, I would tell them it’s in Brooklyn, and they would be like, ‘Never mind.’”

“I wasn’t alone,” she said. “I had friends like this, too.”

So in the summer of 2016, she gathered 34 of them and together they pitched in funds to open a boutique called Flying Solo on Mulberry Street in NoLIta. Within three months, the group had expanded to 45 designers. In June of this year, it grew again, adding more than 20 to the roster and moving to a two-floor shop on West Broadway, on the same block as Missoni, Aesop and DKNY.

Last Friday, during New York Fashion Week, the group of 68 held a two-hour-long presentation and runway show in the store, displaying more than 350 looks. During the presentation, models in neutral colors showed off jewelry and accessories, rotating every few minutes.

As techno beats and songs by Little Dragon, Migos and Sango pounded through the speakers, models strutted by in metallic and brightly colored pants and jackets (from Daniel Silverstain, who has designed for Solange and Lady Gaga); long coats with “Proud Immigrant” written across the back (from Ricardo Seco, a Mexican designer); tweed suits and knit dresses (from Kathrin Henon, who works with Dennis Basso); and much more.

Between each section of the show, models in silver pants and Flying Solo T-shirts created by the designers walked by with signs denoting the next designer’s Instagram handle.

Flying Solo operates somewhat like a grocery or building co-op, with members paying a membership fee that goes toward rent, production and marketing costs for events like the fashion week show. Each member is required to work eight hours every week, opening and closing the store, cleaning and helping customers on the floor.

When the team members opened their first store on Mulberry Street, they put together as much of the interior themselves as they could. “We designed the racks, the shelving,” Ms. Solomeina said. “Our designers were sketching, running to Home Depot, assembling racks.” They were ready for customers in three days. On West Broadway, it took all of four.