If everyone has to wear masks, some Columbus fashion designers believe there is no reason why people cannot look good while keeping everyone healthy.
But staying in fashion is only half the goal of the Slay Safe campaign, which saw six black designers in central Ohio create masks and see them produced by more than a dozen small businesses. belonging to minorities.
Yohannan Terrell, Executive Director of theColumbus Fashion Alliance, said the initiative is one of the nonprofit groups’ first projects and is a testament to its mission to support the growth of designers and fashion companies at the local level. The group also aims to help the city live up to its potential as one of the best destinations for the industry.
We are reinvesting more than $ 100,000 in the community, Terrell said. The money went to the designers, to the vendors, to the project managers. Provided resources, broke down barriers and created opportunities.
And look at the masks, they’re dope.
Thanks to Play Safe, the group has produced around 15,000 masks, of which 12,000 will be distributed free of charge in underserved neighborhoods with the help of its partner, Welcoming City, which helps new Americans find work. (The restwentonsale this month for $ 20 on the Alliances website.)
Terrell, 43 and owner of a marketing company, said he started imagining how he and others could help rename Columbus to a city of fashion a few years ago, given that it has the third highest number of creators per capita, behind Los Angeles and New York. City. It is also home to various retail brands and is widely known as a test market.
Not that it always looks like a fashion hub, he said.
The connection with the rest of the city was not strong, fashion was not part of the culture, Terrell said. You wouldn’t come and say: It’s a city of fashion.
He and others launched the Columbus Fashion Alliance about a year ago to usher in the next generation of fashion designers, provide an already established space to hone new skills and more effectively build an economy surrounding the industry. locally.
Then the pandemic struck, making the need to provide this help, financially and otherwise, to fashion designers and small businesses even more imperative.
Fashion designers and small businesses needed help and not just financially.
Designer Kevin Black said he felt left out of other formal mask-making efforts. While making them for family members, he couldn’t offer them as part of his eponymous brand, which specializes in contemporary women’s clothing, because he couldn’t get enough fabric or other supplies. .
I was going back and forth with, Do I have to make masks? Shouldn’t I be doing masks? says Black, 36, of the King-Lincoln district. Then I stopped after doing some research and realized that I couldn’t find any materials. There was this barrier.
The Columbus Fashion Alliance has removed this obstacle.
When asked to participate in Slay Safe, Black said it was obvious to say yes because Terrell had materials and even provided suppliers to produce the masks.
He told me, just design it, says Black.
His contribution is a black and white motif motif in an origami style.
The designers chosen for the project represent a mix of talents, said Terrell, including Joan Madison, of Joans Bridal Couture in Reynoldsburg, and tattoo artist and painter Rob Williams (aka Mr. RobotGeek).
The patterns of the masks also vary from the black crocodile motif by young emerging designer Akili Cooper to a piece motivated by Nicki Burton.
Lydia and Jerrod Wiggins and their two daughters enjoyed sewing three of the designs in their home on the South East Side. Clothes boxthrough which they were already making and selling masks.
This has further strengthened our ability to take care of our fellow citizens, said Lydia Wiggins.
Participation in the project was grueling; the family produced 1,000 masks in seven weeks, but it gave the Wiggins a financial opportunity to purchase more inventory for their store as well as items to make their home operation more efficient.
It was truly a labor of love for the four of us, said Lydia Wiggins. Our girl friends would come and help. On weekends, we worked non-stop from the time our eyes were open until bedtime.
The efforts will not go unnoticed as they will help keep people in underserved areas safe during the pandemic, said Kevin Boyce, Franklin County Commissioner. The county donated $ 120,000 to the fashion alliance for the Slay Safe campaign, which went directly to pay designers, salespeople and others involved for their talents. It also provided $ 210,000 for other efforts, including the creation of a production lab and head office at the IdeaFoundry in Franklinton.
This is fundamentally entrenched in small business, Boyce said. With COVID-19, all economics experts say our recovery is rooted in small businesses. We see this as a strategic investment while also being a social investment in the alliance and the fashion industry.
Terrell said the organization is already a good steward of those dollars, having raised $ 570,000 in 2020.
We want to show the city that we have something that no other city has outside of New York and Los Angeles, Terrell said. With all the industry experience and resources here, we want to use that knowledge and turn it into an economy that builds the city’s future.
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