In my last post, I talked about the FashionSpeak conference - the only one of its kind, which took place in Detroit on Oct. 16, 2014. As a Styleshack correspondent and guest blogger, I had high expectations. As a wide-eyed girl in love with every aspect of the fashion business, my expectations were not only met, but completely blown out of the water: the electricity in the room was palpable!
The day was long but so was the list of reasons to attend FashionSpeak. “The road to success starts in your hometown,” said Tracy Reese, Detroit native and fashion designer who headlined FashionSpeak.
Her presentation, set up as an open conversation with Karen Buscemi, Detroit Garment Group Guild (DG3) founder and President, touched everything from Reese's humble beginnings in Detroit to the height of her success with First Lady Michelle Obama choice of her pieces for high-profile public appearances. Tracy was gracious and down-to-earth, making time to snap selfies and individually talk to anyone who approached her - including myself!
Amongst the day's speakers were successful designers, entrepreneurs and fashion experts speaking, like Malina Gilchrist, Senior Market Editor at the NY Times' T Magazine. Her cut-throat presentation on how to get your product to reach editors was inspiring and riveting (and so was her Man Repeller-esque look).
"Hone in on one thing you're good at but do everything to do it really well."
Gilchrist is also a Detroiter and she's been bringing her avant-garde vision all over the world, but says she's eager to see the talent coming from this area. "Have a good attitude and good work ethics and you will always be successful," she said.
Rachel Lutz, owner of The Peacock Room in Detroit, went over branding and brand voice, and made it clear that adding "Detroit" in your communications for the sake of seeming "hip and cool" is completely out of style. She talked about the Shinola phenomenon, a Texan shoe polish company that saw the potential in creating luxury watches and bicycles out of the roughness of the city. "Take Detroit as an inspiration but don't take it literally. Start sincere."
Bridget Sullivan and Jeanette Puig-Pey, fellow College for Creative Studies alums, now working at Lear Corporation presented an unexpected clash of fashion and industrial design. Finally, Matthew Burnett, co-CEO and founder of Maker's Row, addressed the crowd via Skype, and introduced the importance of quality manufacturing in your fashion business.
In addition to these incredibly useful workshops, I had the chance to network and meet with fellow bloggers, students and fashion enthusiasts. The entire day was so exciting I didn't even notice as the 11 hours went by and these electric blue Nine West heels finally started to pinch my toes. I'm so humbled by how much the Detroit fashion scene grows, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
With every event, the buzz for Detroit and its potential to become a powerhouse hub in the fashion world only grows larger. And yet sometimes it can take an outsider's perspective to capitalize on it. But it's companies like the Detroit Garment Group Guild that prove you CAN be stay here and bask in the progress we're making together.
Onward, Detroit, in electric blue heels and powered by a desire to keep turning all the lights on. Buzz away!
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Hope you enjoyed the coverage of this awesome event! Don't miss out next year's version, which I'm sure is only bound to get better! Congratulations to DG3 for throwing such a successful and seamlessly enjoyable event. Thank you Rachel Schostak of Styleshack for inviting me to this event. Until next time!