- FashionUnited |
Organizing a Fashion Week involves many different fashion professionals who are experts in their fields ranging from director to designer. With the series “Meet Fashion Week professionals”, FashionUnited looks behind the catwalk to introduce those who bring great fashion events to life all around the globe. We recently chatted with Deborah, Abe, and Kryg to learn more about their roles at Milwaukee Fashion Week.
As you are working at Milwaukee Fashion Week, can you tell us a little bit about the event?
Deborah: Absolutely. Milwaukee Fashion Week is an opportunity for Fashion Designers to showcase their designs. While planning our inaugural event last year, we learned that Milwaukee has over 40 Fashion Designers, and that is not including the surrounding areas. Not a lot of people are aware of this fact for a variety of reasons. Our goal is to help local designers be seen and be able to network with other industry professionals including retailers, media and public relations. Our mission is to promote the booming fashion scene in our city and to create partnerships with local charities which will help create awareness to a variety of matters and encourage community involvement. Our inaugural event brought in several hundred people over a three day event, and were able to donate over $7,000.00 to charity. This year, our goal is to beat that.
Please tell us about your role at Milwaukee Fashion Week?
Deborah: There are three of us that own Milwaukee Fashion Week. National photojournalist and author Abe Van Dyke, as well as photographer Kryg Piatek and myself each bring a different point of view to the event. My role in the organization is more on the administrative and directive side. This year my role includes that, in addition to sales & marketing, coordination of designers and their showcases along with assisting with the Front of House and Backstage duties.
Abe: I will be focusing primarily on marketing via social media this year. My goal is to not only expose the event to as many people as possible, but more importantly highlight the charity we have chosen this year.
Kryg: My role is primarily in the photography for the event, making sure that we capture the feel of the show and the fashions on and off the runway for all to enjoy. It also gives us a tool to look and see where we can improve on for next year.
What do you like most about your job?
Deborah: Picking one favorite is very hard. Meeting new people and establishing relationships is always amazing. I work with an amazing team of people, which include our sponsors, executives, managers, volunteers, and charitable partners. Another thing I like about my job, is knowing that all of our hard work pays off. Seeing the guests that attend Milwaukee Fashion Week, and seeing their excitement and interest is a wonderful feeling.
Abe: The reason I became involved with MFW and continue to be excited, although there is a ton of work involved, is that we are helping to make a difference in the community. The real value of MFW is being able to target various age groups who might not know about local charities and designers.
Kryg: Watching an empty room turn into a room full of excitement, first with the set up then as the guest arrive, and watching their faces as the fashions work their way down the runway.
Did you always want to work for a fashion event like the Milwaukee Fashion Week?
Deborah: Event planning has always been my passion, from personalized parties to weddings to corporate events. I never really thought about fashion in the beginning.
Abe: I have always been a behind the scenes person; be it stage management and crew during high school, to my chosen career as a photojournalist. That said, I've photographed dozens of fashion shows in the Milwaukee area, but never thought I'd be directly involved with something on this scale.
Kryg: I never really thought about it; I guess yes. Over the years I have helped in many shows in a photography consultant role, but not to the scale that is Milwaukee Fashion Week.
What is your professional background? How did you become a Co-Owner at Milwaukee Fashion Week?
Deborah: I worked at a company for 7 years that allowed me to plan events from occasional potlucks and employee luncheons to corporate meetings and parties. During this time, my daughter started to participate in pageants which in turn lead her into modeling. It was quite the learning experience, and one that ended up inspiring me. While continuing to work full time, I started a part time event planning business, Infinity Productions, which eventually lead to planning our first fashion event. Moving forward a couple years, one day I had been tagged in a Facebook post saying Milwaukee Fashion Week needed to be a thing. A small group of us got together, and it went from there. The business was officially formed and we are now into our second year’s event, and have even begun the planning for our third.
Abe: Deb called me out of the blue last year and invited me to a meeting for Milwaukee Fashion Week. I was asked to give my recommendations for the event regarding lighting and positioning from a photographer standpoint. I am by trade a photojournalist and have covered more events that I can remember, so I had quite a few suggestions. From there my role has morphed into more of a management role focused on marketing and media relations. I am extremely lucky to work with Deb and Kryg this year as we each bring very different ideas to the table with our various experiences.
Kryg: I have been a photographer for the last 12 years, getting my start in the business by covering Milwaukee night life for several local magazines and blogs. That’s where I got my first taste of fashion shows. Then I was given the opportunity to photograph the Lela Boutique fashion shows. Now I mainly do fashion photography, so when I heard about Milwaukee Fashion Week I connected with Deb and Abe, and was provided the opportunity to become one of the co-owners.
What is your advice for those who want to pursue a career in fashion?
Deborah: My advice for those that want to pursue a career in fashion is to learn as much about it as you can, and get as much hands on experience as you can. There are so many different fields in fashion….fashion designer, model, hair and makeup artist, photography, fashion merchandising, boutique ownership, and more. Even an event planner. As an event planner, I found myself learning about modeling – how important movement, facial expressions, and getting into character are in a photoshoot, and learning the famous catwalk. I’ve learned a lot about hair artistry, makeup application, photography, and the industry in general. I was able to participate in a few of these areas – it has given me a chance to experience those things hands on and also has given me a better understanding of different concepts. I have learned so much from our Designers, and how much time and work they put into their garments. With this, though, it’s also important to know that the fashion industry is very competitive as well. Be prepared for a lot of hard work and dedication.
Abe: The only advice I can really give that Deb hasn't covered is to go out and have fun with it. Too many people are wrapped up in being serious and forget why they're involved with fashion to begin with. Enjoy the ride for everything its worth.
Kryg: Enjoy the Show don’t just photograph it.