Who We Are
Hello, my name is Autumn Adamme and I founded Dark Garden Corsetry in 1989.
Since then, my colleagues and I have brought our special brand of inclusivity to San Francisco. Through our carefully curated products and events we strive to cultivate a body-positive culture that is accessible to people of all ages, cultures, genders, body-types. We’d like to offer this to people in a part of the country that is quite removed from us. We’re a safe space for people to explore their sense of themselves, matching their outer expression to their inner beauty, often for the first time. We are dedicated to creating unique environments for our clients to luxuriate in, ones that delights the senses, a true sanctuary for self-expression of every identity. I have long wanted to offer Dark Garden's sex-positive culture and accessibility to communities in other parts of the country. We believe that New Orleans is the obvious first place, not least of all because it’s the city that inspired Dark Garden’s name!
Because events are so central to our vision of joining New Orleans (a town famous for both parties and dress up culture), we're working with Scott Levkoff of Mystic Midway to host a party here in the Bay Area to show you what we're made of! Ticket proceeds will go towards the New Orleans location. General admission and VIP tickets are available through this Kickstarter for $50 and $100 respectively. The evening will feature a lush array of entertainments, from live music to burlesque, circus, and variety. Featured performers include Jill Tracy, McPuzo & Trotsky, Larissa Archer, Dwoira Galilea, Szandora LaVey, Ava Lanche, and many more, with your hosts, Katya Smirnoff-Skyy and Ifn Whendy.
My teen years were spent in clothing retail while I studied fashion and fashion history, as well as all technical aspects of garment creation. Working with individuals to find clothing that made them feel good taught me how many people are under-served and therefore feel forgotten by the fashion industry. From day one I've been dedicated to being radically inclusive, focusing on making every person that walks through our door feel welcome and appreciated. This is expressed in the kindness and caring my staff and I lavish on our clients as well as carrying a wide range of sizes, not only in our merchandise but in our standard fit corset sizes and styles. We have served a long list of celebrity clients but treat everyone like they're royalty.
Currently we’re working towards extending our reach by opening a boutique in New Orleans, which will be our very first additional location and we are incredibly excited about it.
As the original costumer for The Sirens of New Orleans, starting in 2010 I began visiting the city twice a year and fell head-over-heels with its fun-loving character and fondness for celebration, not to mention the city and her inhabitants themselves. New Orleans has some important similarities to San Francisco, being a destination for visitors from all over the world, a place that sparks the imagination, that has a lush feeling of mystery and romance - the very feelings that inspired Dark Garden's name.
In our San Francisco boutique we carry the work of several local makers, the majority of them also women owned and operated. I hope to do the same in New Orleans, as well as doing a sort of cultural exchange - bringing the work of NOLA artists to San Francisco and vice versa.
I’m looking forward to taking everything that Dark Garden offers in San Francisco, and offering it in New Orleans. We have our sights set on a perfect spot for our boutique, nestled in the beautiful Lower Garden District and are in final negotiations. Then the real work begins; lease-hold improvements, fixtures, paint, moving in!
We've been a community hub in San Francisco for years and so our ideal New Orleans location will also have an in-house event space, allowing us to host an array of fun, titillating, educational, inspiring, delightful activities that bring the local community together. We're planning a real humdinger of an opening party, we just need the space to solidify. As soon as that happens you'll be the first to be notified!
With our first boutique we started small and grew very organically, defining our brand along the way. We now know who we are, what we create, what we stand for, and how to present those things. Opening the doors to a whole new location requires an almost endless variety of things, from permits, to training new staff members, to deposits on the location, to furnishings - counters, dressing room curtains, seating, lighting...the list goes on....and on..... and then there's the merchandise required to stock a store.
Our San Francisco team has already begun pouring their hearts into creating enough corsets to stock an entire second location (we keep over 200 corsets in stock every day to accommodate all 25 sizes included in our standard fit offerings!) not to mention the accompanying accessories that take an outfit from good to great.
We've been saving up and have a line of credit from the bank to get us started, and just need a bit more to get this off the ground! Your support via Kickstarter will be used for these things and more. First and foremost, naturally we'll be fulfilling your rewards! Everything from charming lapel pins to hosting you through a weekend of fabulous parties in true New Orleans fashion. This will be our home base, not just for the boutique, but for all the wonderful events we plan to host in the months and years to come.
Why New Orleans and Why Now
As I mentioned earlier, I've loved the Crescent City for years, and have long dreamed of having a second location there. I couldn’t figure out how to do it because I couldn’t split myself in two; I couldn’t be in San Francisco and also be in New Orleans. But fate brought Annabelle Zakaluk to me. She was originally a devoted client due to her fondness for corsets and over the years has become a trusted friend and one of our models. Her extensive experience in the fashion industry makes her the ideal person to open and manage the boutique. Conveniently, she also fell in love with New Orleans and decided to move there, making my, "someday dream," a real thing! She's been in New Orleans since October, getting to know the city and sourcing location and vendors. At last, the time is right!
The Dark Garden Experience
My vocation as a designer and fashion technician has been my focus since I was 12 years old. I’m lucky enough to have a team of a dozen highly skilled people with me in San Francisco: artists, creatives, craftswomen – from our phenomenal production team to our multi-talented boutique staff. One of my driving forces is providing employment and a great working environment for these skilled people. Though we nominally create garments, what we are truly creating is an experience. As a woman, being able to create on my own terms in my own store is deeply important to me, my team, and our devoted clients, many of whom return to us year after year.
A good corset is like a great pair of shoes: your outlook is completely transformed by wearing them. I absolutely love participating in this transformative experience. When someone puts on a Dark Garden corset and looks in the mirror, you can see them appreciate themselves in a completely different light. A new sense of confidence is immediately discernible. The research and development that have gone into every one of our offerings is apparent in the fit and comfort, making our corsets world renowned for their quality.
Opening a boutique in a strange new city is a herculean effort. We’ve got the vision, we’ve got the passion, we have the focus and drive but we need a little bit of help. We’ve come up with some really fun rewards, so I invite you to participate with us. With your support, we'll be able to sew enough corsets to stock a new store (and ship them there), begin paying rent on the new space (and put furniture in it), interview for our local boutique team (and hire them). Thank you so much.
We'd like to extend a very special thanks to those who made this video possible:
- Edie Eve, for directing and editing the video
- Silver Bell Jazz Band, for allowing us to use their rendition of Russian Lullaby
- Walker Larson, for his original footage, shot in New Orleans
Risks and challenges
We've already begun sourcing furniture and making contacts with new vendors for accessories, cosmetics and clothing. (We're not just corsets!) Via the Kickstarter, our primary objective is to ready a space and kick off Mardi Gras season with a fantastic weekend of events. Depending on timing, we have contingency plans for a soft launch and delayed construction so that the party is not compromised by the handoff date. Our hope is to secure a location that's move-in ready, and if it doesn't pan out to host the opening weekend at the shop, we'll find another venue!
For the weekend of events, we are working with Scott Levkoff of Mystic Midway. Scott is not only a dear and long-standing friend of mine, he's also an amazing immersive event producer, and a southern gentleman with many connections in New Orleans. With Scott's expertise, I know we'll be able to craft a delightful weekend that attendees will remember fondly for years to come.
Many of our rewards are icing on the cake. In this case, a King Cake, I suppose. Our existing San Francisco team is ready to design/order/sew all of the non-event deliverables, from lapel pins to private consultations.
In short, as long as we meet our goal, I have great confidence in executing the vision!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)