The summer of 2021 is one to remember. But let me tell you why.
Years before this summer, Rob Smith, Marcus Green, and I began brainstorming on ways to expose youth to fashion and design using education. We challenged ourselves to think about ways to make it fun, realistic, aspirational, and create impact. We asked each other: How would this impact their aspirations? Could it change their trajectory? Who are the best partners? But we realized, we would never know until we build it.
So we kept building…
Rob, Marcus, and I constantly text, talked and met. We eventually refined the concept and landed on a name… Swatch Academy. This was enough to champion the idea. It was well-received but remained a concept for several reasons. But that didn’t discourage! We were determined to figure out a way to give youth this experience.
More time passes, more meetings are had, aaannnddd …
we connect with Yohannan (Yogi) Terrell. BOOM! He’s on a mission to revitalize the fashion industry in Columbus through making, learning, innovating, and experiencing (e.g the Columbus Fashion Alliance (CFA).
Cut to the chase, you say…
Our conversations didn’t fall on deaf ears. Within moments, it’s go time! Rob and I meet up on a Saturday evening for roughly 2 hours and developed the framework. We delivered that program framework to the PAST Foundation and Columbus Fashion Alliance and two programs were born. The results were amazing.
Fashion + STEM: Columbus City Schools (CCS)
- 6 week cohesive program for middle school students Roughly 40 students signed up
- 8 groups presented to teachers, program directors, and Homage (Fashion brand)
- Program built with Design Thinking and STEM components
- Homage produced a 100 shirts I designed for participants, facilitators, teachers, and others
Future of Fashion: with CFA
- Partnered with My Brother’s Keeper
- 10-week program for 16 young African-American men and 1 young lady (ages 16 – 18)
- Met with industry leaders that “looked like them”
- Learned Direct-to-Garmet printing techniques
- Within 8 weeks, ideated, produced, marketed, and curated a full brand.
- Launched a website: Industry Plant and social media presence
- Opened a pop up shop
- Forged a collaboration with Midwest Kids
- 1 received a full time job with Upwest
- Evolved into key contributors for the Fashion clubs integrated into the CCS