My name is Emily Gartner, I am an Indiana artist/designer that creates historical memories with a modern twist though my sustainable fashions and pop art designs. I also teach sewing to adults and youth and mentor select children who show promise in fashion, art and design. One such individual is Zairion Lester. I have been mentoring him for 4 years. Last summer he worked as my intern helping me with a wearable art project for Habitat for Humanity's 'Women Build' fundraiser. He currently goes to Signature School and will start his junior year in August. He came to my attention when his teacher, Sarah Mabis, from Glenwood Leadership Academy, asked me to come check out what he made from scrapbook paper I had donated to her class. He built a Harlem, NYC brownstone out of foam core board, scrapbook paper and LED lights. It was the house of Harlem Renaissance artist, Lois Mailou Jones. I didn't know about her before, but I certainly have seen her artwork in museums in NYC and Boston since Zairion brought her to my attention.
I met Sarah Villines last year. Her grandmother had passed away and she was given her vintage sewing machine. She wanted to learn how to sew on it. And since my class has vintage sewing machines and one similar to her grandmother's, that was not a problem. Her intent listening and execution of projects was impressive and I could tell she simply loves every aspect of fashion by nature. Sarah is 11 and attended Harper School this year and will go to Washington Middle School next year. Typically, the team would not consider her because they look for children 13-17, but I convinced them that Sarah was their ideal candidate and they would not be disappointed. Sarah has been upcycling her dresses into crop tops for a few years.
We are all honored to be selected to compete in the very first Indiana Fashion week June 18-22 in Indianapolis. Zairion & Sarah will compete in the 'Youth Design Challenge' and I will compete in the 'Super Model Market Challenge'. In addition to that, I have been selected to be a Sewing Mentor at this very prestigious event, mentoring one-on-one in that same Youth Design Challenge. (Although, I seriously doubt I will be paired with Zairion or Sarah.)
Zairion and Sarah will shop at Goodwill Indy on 6/18 with 4 other teenagers and select clothes they will 'upcycle' into a new, fresh design. On 6/19 they will spend the day with individual sewing mentors (me included) designing, sketching and creating on the sewing machine. On Saturday, their designs will go into a runway show, which will be the first official runway show of Indiana Fashion Week!
My design challenge is a little different: I've been given a mood board with different color palettes from the color wheel...red+orange/blue+green/yellow+gold. The theme for the display models is "The Super Model Market". Think high fashion and Met Gala. I'll be honest with you high fashion, couture is not a comfortable category for me, but certainly the quirky pop art accessories are something that I love. (I've designed a Tang handbag and the wild astro umbrella hat shown in our group photo...I know, crazy, right?!)
So how did this all come to be you ask??? Recently, I applied for a Creative Entrepreneur Scholarship that the Arts Council of Southwest Indiana announced. I was honored to receive that grant through the Indiana Arts Commission On-Ramp program. During a panel discussion I met Mich(ael) Weston, a Fashion Branding guru from NYC, although he originally started out as a pastor in Indiana. Anyway...during his talk he began to map out the details of Indiana Fashion Week and I was hanging on his every word. We had already begun to chat before his talk as he had noticed my newly designed bomber jacket. And after the talk, I wanted him to know about some of my sewing students. He insisted I send him their names for the youth competition. And one thing simply led to another...and the ball has not stopped rolling yet.
It is the very first time Indiana will be presenting this event, a brain child of Denisha Ferguson, designer of D'Lang Designs. There will be a strong presence of New York's Fashion Week represented. As a matter of fact, Fern Mallis, the woman who initiated New York's will be honored at www.IndianaFashionWeek.com (Watch the documentary "The Tents" to learn her story, it's fascinating!!!) So you see, Indiana has way more to offer than just corn, Indiana is fashion too...who even knew?
This is an incredible opportunity for us to represent our city of Evansville and shine. I met with Zairion and Sarah to bring them up-to-date on expectations and have given them assignments to discover more about this event. They just finished school for the year. We will likely do a trial run at our local Goodwill to be better prepared. I've already purchased all of my fabrics, baubles and bits for my challenge, which has taken over my house.
We will head to Indy with the parents chaperoning the week of June 18th-22nd to compete and volunteer in Indiana Fashion Week. And with that comes a budget of expenses we will incur and we need your love and support. Here is the breakdown on expenses:
Hotels (x3 rooms) for 5 nights $1,500.
Gas there and back for 3 cars 210.
Food (x6 people) for 6 days 1,620.
Supplies for design comp. 100.
Addl. trips for garment drop offs 60.
INDFW ticket for family members 210.
VIP Party, Rewards & S/H 200.
Risks and challenges
As with anything there are risks, life happens and what goes on with our loved ones can sometimes present challenges to be at our very best. New environments and new situations are hard to immediately adapt too, but please be assured this is a high priority for all of us because of our passion for fashion and design in ways we don't even realize yet. We will be doing some trial run throughs to take care of potential hiccups. And we will be surrounded with a supportive group of family, friends, and fashion folks in the Indianapolis area.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (16 days)