"Every Friday afternoon I gather up an armful or two of useful doodads and random tidbits and take my happy butt to a little glass front space at 33rd and Leavenworth. There is a brightly painted concrete planter in the front that stands out against the concrete, brick, and glass of the block and every time I pass it I think I need to make one for myself, but inevitably forget as soon as I get home. Sometimes you can hear a boxing class next door, see a few friendly strangers smoking outside of the VFW across the street, or see any number of neighborhood folks waiting at the bus stop next to the planter." Read more about Buf's mentor experience.
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One of the most frequently asked questions in our inbox comes from parents looking for opportunities to get their elementary and middle school kids on the runway. Kids Rule is our answer to that question! Kids Rule, taking place Feb. 17-18 next year, is a fun, creative, confidence-building fashion show experience for boys and girls ages 5-12! Learn more at here.
In late 2013 Nick and I were invited by Ellie Archer to a dinner party at Metro Community College's [MCC] Culinary School. At that time, we were like, "Wow. Imagine if Metro had a fashion program like their culinary program - wouldn't that be cool?" In late April, after many years of meetings with the team at MCC, that crazy idea became reality when an associate's degree in fashion design was approved by the state board of education.
Check out which designers made it into Omaha Fashion Week's March 2016 season! Shows are March 15-20, 2016. Tickets go on sale to the public January 11.
The proposal to remove fashion education from the Omaha Public Schools curriculum is still on the table following the school board meeting two weeks ago. After the proposal was presented, nearly all school board members spoke about their concerns over removing the fashion classes from the curriculum. It sounds like all of the letters our fashion fans sent them were read and thoughtfully considered! However, we aren't out of the woods yet. Tonight there is another board meeting, which means we have another opportunity to share why this issue is so important. It won't be up for vote for a few more weeks. OFW will be there along with OPS fashion teachers to offer additional information about why fashion education should NOT be removed from the curriculum.
The key takeaway from the last meeting was the need for more information about job opportunities in fashion. This became glaringly obvious after a presenter said she did a "quick search" of job postings in fashion within Nebraska and found none. Well, the OFW team did its own "quick search" today and here is what we found:
We have several large retailers headquartered in the Midwest: The Buckle (Kearney, NE); Cabela's (Sidney, NE); Gordman's (Omaha, NE); Von Maur (Des Moines, IA); Target (Minneapolis, MN); BonTon (Milwaukee, WI). Here are their job postings:
- The Buckle: http://corporate.buckle.com/careers/apply-now/store/0
- Cabela's: http://cabelas.jobs/careers/?jobs_country=us&jobs_location=65&keyword=keyword&employee=no&search_qs=Search&pg=1
- Gordman's: https://sjobs.brassring.com/TGWebHost/searchresults.aspx?SID=%5E1KwmD9EaDVlmuyTEjlcM69Lhz6MuREfV63TCJPOCdVqymGMEpFVcUlESWYEFWbx_slp_rhc_
- Von Maur: http://careers.bonton.com/?utm_campaign=corp
- Target: http://jobs.target.com/search/Nebraska?utm_source=corporate.target.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=corporate
- BonTon: http://careers.bonton.com/?utm_campaign=corp
We need to broaden our perspective of what "working in fashion" is exactly. We LOVE our fashion designers, but this industry involves MUCH more than designing and producing garments. It incorporates business, marketing, merchandizing, product development, forecasting, technology, content creation (photography, videography, writing/blogging), modeling, styling, public relations, advertising, graphic design, hair styling, makeup artistry and so many other things. You will see this variety reflected in the job postings above. In fact, here's the full document of research the team pulled together today - it includes salary data as well.
It's easy for us to think of fashion classes as an experience where we learn to cut fabric, sew stitches and press pretty things. Maybe even learn a thing or two about modeling and self confidence, heaven forbid. But those experiences are actually the first step in a student's journey into a billion dollar industry that has thousands of well paying jobs right here in our state. If we don't prepare our students in high school for these careers, they will have fewer opportunities than their peers in other markets.
Fashion education isn't an unpopular subject at OPS...there are roughly 1,000 students enrolled in these classes right now. It would be foolish, and sad, to throw the hopes and dreams of these students away because of misinformation about what opportunities are available to them in this industry. Let's hope the school board agrees!
Growing up in England we didn’t have fashion as an option in school (in fact we didn’t have any practical skill options - it was a purely academic curriculum and I spent many hours studying Latin!). But at home, I was encouraged to be entrepreneurial with my hobbies. Both my father and grandfather owned their own businesses in the fashion industry. My first real business was a T-shirt printing company I started at the age of fifteen (we quickly branched into printed mugs and other random items!). I continued this T-shirt printing business through university at Cambridge and it paid for many wonderful trips around the world as a student. After university I went into fashion's "little sister" industry -the beauty industry - working for the Boots Company (better known the US as the developer of Sephora). For 13 years I traveled the world working on a range of projects in business development, my last role being Vice President of International Business Development which allowed me to bring the Boots brand to the US through store partnerships with Target, CVS & Walgreens. (Boots was later was purchased by Walgreens in a $19BN transaction)
In 2004 I decided to start my own import business bringing luxury beauty, fashion and accessories from Europe to the US and I found myself moving from New York to Omaha, Nebraska. This sometimes surprises people in the places I do most of my fashion business (i.e. New York, London, Paris & Milan) but Omaha has been a wonderful base for a fashion import and distribution business. It is central, the lifestyle here is low cost and very comfortable, but most importantly it has a LOT of very talented young people.
It was these talented young people that inspired me to start the creative hub and artists venue, Nomad Lounge, where one of the best projects that was incubated was Omaha Fashion Week. I quickly realized that there was this amazing talent base here in Omaha. The skills were much better than in other cities I had seen. I attribute this to the fact that fashion was still being taught in schools and the strength of programs such as 4-H, which don't exist in the main fashion capitals. The big challenge for these designers was that they didn’t have the money to stage a professional fashion show. Even more striking was that they didn’t believe they were as talented as young designers on the coasts or in “more prestigious” cities. The idea to change this was simple but revolutionary. Omaha Fashion Week became the first big Fashion Week that provided a free professional platform for designers. It was and continues to be funded by members of the public through ticket sales and the corporate community through sponsorship.
The commercial company that I'm involved with here in Omaha, Design Parliament, is focused on fashion and has very small impact on the local job market. Directly we only have 10 employees, but we are growing quickly and it’s very possible we will have many more in the future. But, through Omaha Fashion Week, many jobs have been created (and talent discovered!) across many different businesses and industries from photography to hair dressing to modeling to retail. This all started because I got to practice entrepreneurial skills in fashion in my early years.
I personally have had a very comfortable income for over 18 years in the fashion industry and a wonderful career that has taken me to almost 50 different countries around the world. I have seen hundreds of people create significant wealth and satisfaction from careers in fashion. And I have seen hundreds of young people in Omaha practice their fashion talents on the OFW runway and then take those creative entrepreneurial skills to use them in fashion or in other industries.
I hope OPS doesn’t drop fashion from its curriculum options. Fashion is an amazingly creative entrepreneurial play ground that hones skills which can be used in many other fields. It is short-sighted to assume fashion is only training people for low-income, low demand jobs! Fashion and its associated areas is a core fundamental human need and globally it is an $1BN industry. There continue to be a plethora of fantastic high income opportunities for those who are interested in fashion in the Midwest! The key to being competitive and landing those jobs is to START EARLY, which further underscores the need for fashion education in our high schools.