From time to time questions arise about whether or not Omaha Fashion Week should pay models, designers, photographers and stylists. Tonight at our model call, we are expecting a group to be on hand passing out flyers to attendees asking them to question us on how they will be compensated for their involvement in our Spring Show. We would like to address this issue publicly by sharing our philosophy on how we intend to help Omaha's budding fashion industry. We agree that talented people deserve to be compensated. However, the fashion industry here in Omaha is in its infancy and requires sacrifice from all of us. Our philosophy on nurturing the industry is to first ensure that designers are able to develop viable, sustainable businesses. Without strong designers, we are kidding ourselves about a fashion industry in Omaha. Once money flows to designers, they will be able to hire models, stylists and photogs. This is how it works in other markets. Until then, we all have to do our part to support designers with our time, talent and treasure...if we are truly passionate about building a fashion industry in Omaha.
That is why Omaha Fashion Week keeps everything free for designers - there will never be fees to participate in the show for designers. If we would have charged fees in the beginning (as they do in other markets), we NEVER would have gotten this far. In four years, we have become the Midwest's largest fashion event in terms of audience size and designer participation - and we are the only fashion week dedicated exclusively to indie designers in the Midwest. Right here in Omaha of all places!
Given that we don't charge designer fees, we can't afford to pay for every model, stylist and photog. It costs us about $5,000 per designer/show for staging, lighting, sound, rentals. Imagine how our costs would skyrocket if we added payroll for nearly 1,000 contributors who make Omaha Fashion Week possible! If we followed the business model of paying everyone from OFW coffers (which are empty, at the moment...), it would be a financial disaster for OFW. It would put us out of business and wipe out the good things OFW has been able to accomplish in its four years of existence.
Bottom line - we are looking for people who understand that it takes a little sacrifice from ALL of us to create a new industry that Omaha can be proud of...one that will provide opportunities to each designer + the models, photogs and stylists who support them.
Does this mean that there is no economic opportunity for anyone involved in OFW? No! It just means that the economic opportunities don't come directly from OFW in the form of a paycheck. If you are a model, photographer or stylist, this is an opportunity to build your portfolio, make new contacts within the industry and network with potential customers. As the OFW brand grows, your association with it becomes more valuable as well. This is your opportunity - leverage it!
As for designers - this is a way to market your brand. We are working closely with designers for the March show to help them get as much as they possibly can economically from the experience. We are including a retail experience immediately following each night's show that will allow designers to meet new customers and either sell their pieces off the runway or take orders. Additionally, we have incorporated OFW into a non-profit corporation with the state of Nebraska and are working on IRS documents to complete our status as a non-profit. This will allow us to expand our educational and support efforts for designers and ultimately develop a fashion institute in Omaha.
We are very excited about what we can do to nuture the fashion industry in Omaha, and consider it a great honor to be part of building something that will create jobs and opportunities in our community for generations to come. We hope you will join us!
Nick and Brook Hudson OFW Producers