Friday, March 16, 2012

March fashion and art/business events

Two great March events: An inspiring student-run fashion show and the business side of selling art
Originally published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel March 10, 2012

SLVHS Fashion Show—Wear the Wild Things Are, March 22-25
“What you wear says a lot about who you are.”—Taylor Friend

One designer’s collection from the 2008 SLVHS fashion show.
A posted flyer inviting student designers to participate in the very first San Lorenzo Valley High School Fashion Show, actually pre-dated by one year, the premier of Project Runway on December 1, 2004—the TV show which initially turned the fashion spotlight from the runway to the workroom. “If you are interested in fashion design, we want you,” the flyer said. “Your designs could be modeled in a runway show! All designers will be sewing and creating their own visions to be revealed to fashionable eyes.”

Of course fashion has always been about trend-setting. But what began as a testing-the-waters call for designers, has become a full-blown, expertly produced runway show, with lighting, sound, sets, refreshments, advertising, models and clothing designs, all provided or created by SLV high school students. The ninth installment of this ambitious annual project, “Wear the Wild Things Are,” will feature eight designers and six collections.

Taylor Friend’s sketchbook shows one of her
 designs for the show: a two-piece bathing suit
 and cover-up, the halter top of which
 has already been completed.
Twin sisters Mary and Christina LoFranco are collaborating for a collection inspired by prep schools and country clubs. “It’s really fun working with a partner,” said Mary LoFranco when I visited her and two other designers one Sunday morning in February as they cut, draped, ironed and sewed at the Felton home of one of the designers. “It’s like twice the creativity,” said LoFranco while working on a lavender corduroy romper.  “And you feed off of each other,” added designer and club president Taylor Friend.

Since sewing is no longer taught in school, LoFranco and Friend said they were both taught to sew by their mothers. “It all started with doll clothes,” said Friend. But they’ve taken a big creative leap forward that their mothers may never have considered by designing their own patterns. “I like the creative process of making a pattern,” said Friend. “So if I use a [purchased] pattern, I change it drastically.”
Friend says her collection was inspired by the power of the San Andreas Fault. She has a sketch and idea book with photos of red rock formations and jagged rips through the earth. But she says that the Santa Cruz “street vibe” is even more influential in her designs. “The fashion mix of Santa Cruz is indie, beachy. Everyone is trying to do something different.”  Mary LoFranco added, “I think we’d all agree that our habitat is influential above all.”

(from left to right) Designers Taylor Friend, Nicole Bullock
 and Mary LoFranco convene at Friend’s home one
 Sunday morning in February to work on their designs.
Another designer, Nicole Bullock, has embraced an earth-friend repurposing theme in her collection. “I do a lot of shopping at thrift stores,” she said while draping and pinning a dress form with black crocheted fabric for a beach cover-up. “My line is really economical. For instance, I’m using a runner from around my mom’s vanity. I don’t like spending a lot of money and I don’t like consuming too much and my line reflects that.”

The Fashion Club—about 12 students—started meeting and planning at the beginning of the school year, but had trouble finding adult advisors—a school requirement. Finally, they found Debbie Wambaugh, the parent of a SLVHS senior and fiber artist, who has helped with the fashion show for several years. “In mid-October I heard there wasn’t going to a fashion show, so I stepped up,” said Wambaugh. In January, Valerie Friend, a parent and teacher, also volunteered.

Wambaugh said her role as parent advisor is to guide and inspire them. “I’ve been trying to give them a guideline and a calendar. But when they say ‘student run’ they mean student run. Even the house manager is a student for the first time.”

The audience applauds a colorfully lined jacket
 at the 2008 SLVHS fashion show.
Even though most of this year’s designers are seniors, none aspire to become professional fashion designers after graduation. Taylor Friend, who plans to major in fine art at San Francisco State, explained, “I don’t like the fashion industry—the consumerism, the attitude. I like the art part. And that what you wear says a lot about who you are.”

Wear the Wild Things Are
Student Fashion Show 2012
Thurs-Sat, March 22, 23, 24 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 25 at 2 p.m.
San Lorenzo Valley High School
Performing Arts Center
7105 Highway 9, Felton
(831) 335-4425
Tickets: $5, $7, and $10
For advance tickets and information:

The Business of Art…from Passion to Profitability
“If you’re not making money you’ve got a hobby”—Keith Holtaway

If you’re a struggling-to-make-ends-meet artist pouring your passion and precious resources into your art without receiving much in return, it may be time for some serious (and inexpensive) soul searching. For just $25 per seminar you can attend the “The Business of Art Seminar Series” offered over the next three months through Cabrillo College Extension, and find out what it takes to establish a true business selling your art.

The lead-off seminar in the series, held last month, “The Business of Art 101,” was led by SBDC Certified Business Advisor, artist and co-founder of Pizza My Heart, Keith Holtaway. “Nothing enhances creativity more than not having to worry about money,” he told the sold-out crowd. Holtaway is a proponent of the one-page business plan, which can clarify a business concept in a short, concise way, by answering five questions:  What are you building? Why does this business exist? What results will you measure? How will you build this company? What is the work to be done?

Holtaway said there is a commonly held stereotype about the artist mindset, which is, “I’m an artist and I don’t need to know about business.” He coached the audience to get rid of unprofessional tags and treat their art like a business by adopting successful business practices such as monitoring and planning. He emphasized that hiring a professional bookkeeper is a key element to any profitable business, as well as setting-up a separate business account and keeping a clear paper trail. “The whole process is about measurement and having good data,” he said. “You can’t make good choices based on bad information.”

Some inexpensive resources Holtaway recommended were:
  • A free weekly business newsletter available at
  • Jim Horan’s book, “The One Page Business Plan”
  •—a way to accept credit cards on your mobile phone
  •—a step by step approach to starting a creative business
The next seminar in the series, “Pricing Your Art,” will be a panel discussion led by the very successful local muralist and artist, James Aschbacher. This is an invaluable opportunity to not only learn from the vast experience of four local artists who are actively making and selling their work, but to get your specific questions answered by experts. “There’s nothing like real life experience to learn from, so you don’t make the mistakes we all made starting out on our careers,” James wrote to me about the seminar. “And the real fun begins starts when we open up the floor to questions. That’s where the students learn the most.”

For more information:

Business of Art Seminar Services
From Passion to Profitability
Cabrillo College, VAPA Lection Hall, room 101
6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos
Cost per seminar: $25

Seminar #2: Pricing Your Art—led by James Aschbacher, local muralist and artist
Saturday, March 31, 2012, 10 a.m. to noon

Seminar #3: Get Your Art Out There! Solid Marketing Principles—led by Aletta de Wal, artist, educator and entrepreneur
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10 a.m. to noon

Seminar #4: Leveraging Social Media for your Art—led by Susan Tenby, Online Community Manager for TechSoup
Saturday, May 19, 2012, 10 a.m. to noon