With doors opened 6 p.m. and showtime at 7 p.m., the unique gathering space decked with holiday decor at the old brewery was truly the best place to be in Milwaukee on Sunday, December 17, 2017.
Benefiting four families through Milwaukee-based Sojourner Family Peace Center, providing education, advocacy and resources to keep families safe from domestic violence, the Third Annual “Miracle on the Runway” Holiday Fashion Show welcomed an eclectic mix of onlookers sporting jeans to elegant ensembles. The family-centered event was evident in the casual, coziness of the room with models of every shape, size, age and ethnicity gracing the runway.
Adding to the charm was gospel singer Tina Miller beginning festivities with a powerful and soulful performance of her own composition, “In You Lord, I Find My Power,” setting an inspired and assuaged tone for the evening.
Special guests were Miss Wisconsin USA 2018 Regina Gray and Miss Wisconsin Teen USA 2018 Alexis Loomans.
Hosted by Crystal Stoots, aka “Mama Crystal,” resplendent in a shimmering bold red and gold gown, and LeeVan D Roundtree, smartly dressed for his engaging emceeing.
The nearly three-hour visual feast boasted several designers collections, including:
Music by Brandis Frater provided the perfect acoustic backdrop, switching soundtracks on cue to compliment and herald the wide array of fashion collections. Performances by Tay Sweete and other musicians provided variety and a dash of diversion between collections.
Standouts in the show were many. Three ensembles seemed to astonish the audience over and beyond the others.
Designer – Moda Muñeca (Chelsea Stotts)
Quote from designer – “Fashion and the arts are the constant that has kept my family motivated and brought us together … it was only right to combine our passion with giving back. Now, what has brought joy to us can do so for others. The LUXE Collection is inspired by the rich, successful and sometimes bourgeois. Using various fabrics, including beaded appliqués and sequins, I was able to achieve a high class “glitz and glam” feel. As they say, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it!’ Confidence is key.”
Quote from designer – “Love doing a show with a good cause, helping families in need. Really wanted to do a holiday collection, so it gave me a perfect excuse to do something for this show.” Angélique, “angel” in French, feminine and ethereal. Satin, sequins, black, red and gold. Fun and versatile, pair with trousers, jacket, skirt … for date night with the boyfriend or that special holiday party.” One and only showing of this holiday collection.
Designer – Basia Rose Designs (Basia Spencer)
Quote from designer – “We make the latest trends in apparel with African Print Fabrics, inspired by events for every lifestyle, whether it is on the go, going to work or a special occasion. If African prints are not for you, we also offer custom designs and alterations.”
Stunning ensembles continued throughout the night. Enjoy the photo collection below … a sampling from each designer.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting and interviewing local jewelry designer Kristin Burkemper of Bird’s Tail Jewelry. Her new studio, located just outside of Milwaukee in Whitefish Bay, exemplifies her design esthetic. The space was filled a lovely aroma fueled by her Essential Oil Jewelry collection, creating a calming and welcoming atmosphere. After a tour around the studio space and a viewing of her current projects and pieces, it became clear as to the amount of love behind each piece of jewelry. Burkemper’s passion for her work is evident in the following interview:
AN:I read that you were introduced to the jewelry industry working at a high-end jewelry store; what drew you into designing yourself?
KB:After graduating from Marquette University, I started a job in advertising editing and writing ad copy. Each day when I went to my job, I knew something was missing – I didn’t feel creative, I needed something more: passion. I wanted to be creative and make a difference. Writing had always been a true love of mine, so I made the decision to leave my job and go back to school and become an English teacher. It was scary – I was broke and while most of my former classmates were formulating their career paths and surging ahead, I sort of felt like I was moving backwards. But I knew something had to change. I enrolled back in school and was taking 20 credits at a time. I absolutely loved being a student again – this time taking classes that made me feel inspired – literature and writing and education – it all just fit. The problem – I needed money to pay rent and eat! Sort of by accident, I came upon a job at a high-end jewelry shop in downtown Milwaukee. I fell in love with the stones and the designs. Each day, I would spend time just trying on the beautiful pieces. Staring longingly at emeralds, diamonds, Tahitian pearls; I knew I was in trouble – a new passion stirred in me. I loved seeing the jewelry come to life as each customer tried on a new piece.
The very first pieces I created were for my bridesmaids. I made them fresh water pearl drop earrings, a floating pearl necklace and a matching bracelet. The ability to take a design in my head and make it come to life with my hands, was the turning point. I new I had to do something with this new love: jewelry.
AN: What is your motivation behind creating pieces that are affordable for the “Every-Woman”?
KB: While working in the jewelry business for about 15 years, I saw a need for jewelry pieces that wouldn’t break the bank. Sure there were many massed produced pieces that you could find at the mall, but I wanted women to be able to own jewelry that feels good buying it and wearing it.
I saw a need there – a need for a jewelry line that looks and feels expensive, but doesn’t cost a small fortune – this is why I decided to design, make and sell my own pieces. I want women to be able to afford beautiful, high quality jewelry, and most of all, I want them to feel beautiful wearing it.
AN: When did you decide to pursue the start of your company?
KB: In 2012, I was married, raising two kids, teaching full-time and working part-time. I was stressed and overwhelmed, but didn’t realize the extent of it until I started getting these horrible headaches that made it difficult to even get out of bed, never-mind fulfill of my responsibilities as a mom, teacher, and employee. I wasn’t taking care of myself and my body began to fail me. Soon the headache pain grew even worse and started to spread throughout my entire body. Everything hurt. I saw multiple doctors, had MRI’s, CAT Scans, was put on a multitude of drugs, and without any answers or relief. As a result, I lost 20 pounds and was in essence a walking skeleton. After living like this for almost a year, I had to stop working – I was devastated. The doctors diagnosed me with Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. It was then that I changed my lifestyle and turned to yoga, physical therapy and natural remedies. Within a few months I slowly got better. But I knew I couldn’t go back to my old way of life.
After having my third child, I hosted an Oscar party at my house. For the party, I decided to make little swag bags for each of my friends. I turned to my jewelry making skills to make this happen. I made each woman a bracelet and tucked each one into a cute, little tote. The responses were unexpected. My friends began to encourage me to do something with this idea – it had never occurred to me that I could make a living making something with hands. But I took a leap and decided to pursue the idea. My first step was finding a name and creating a vision for a brand that soon became Bird’s Tail.
AN: How did you decide on the name Bird’s Tail and the concept behind it?
KB: My love of yoga was a huge inspiration for the name. I began to look to my practice for style and design inspiration. The name Bird’s Tail is inspired by a graceful and elegant Tai Chi move called “Grasping the Bird’s Tail”.
The name of this movement, “Grasping the Bird’s Tail,” is derived from a Chinese expression which refers to paying attention to important details. In the case of Tai Chi, the practitioner pays attention to core energetic and structural elements of his or her practice. Each small movement has purpose.
My goal for my designs is to pay attention to the little details of each piece I create; every move or design has purpose. Our Bird’s TailSignature Hoops are inspired by this beautiful asana – the shape mimicking the delicate and graceful shape of a bird’s tail.
AN: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
KB: Yoga, nature, geometry – everything and anything around me that inspires me to create beauty.
AN: What do you aim to convey to your customer’s through your jewelry pieces?
KB: Each Bird’s Tail piece is handcrafted with the goal of making women feel beautiful and empowered. It sounds cheesy, but I want a woman to feel like a beautiful Goddess when wearing my pieces. As a society, I think women are so hard on themselves when it comes to beauty. The standards of beauty are impossible. With jewelry, it doesn’t matter what size jeans you wear, you can rock a beautiful necklace and feel amazing.
I want women to wear our pieces on a daily basis. I don’t want our jewelry to become too trend-heavy and got out of style from one season to the next. Jewelry is meant to be worn and become better with time, not sit in the bottom of a jewelry box.
AN: What materials do you like to work with?
KB: Because I want women to wear our pieces on a daily basis, I use high quality metals and semi-precious stones. We use 18k gold fill and sterling silver metals so that our pieces don’t tarnish like typical brass, costume jewelry pieces.
AN: Out of all the pieces you’ve designed, do you have a favorite?
KB: Oh my goodness. That’s a hard question. I feel like every piece is a part of who I am, but if I had to pick one, I would say my Essential Oil Bracelets. The functionality and healing benefits truly reflect my journey to living a healthy and fulfilled life.
AN: What different jewelry collections or looks are available?
KB: We have an Essential Oil Collection, Celestial Collection, and a Goddess Series.
AN: Do you design custom pieces?
KB: I sure do – I love working one-on-one to create pieces for people. Together we can harness our creativity and bring those pieces to life.
AN: What are some of your favorite jewelry trends this season whether from Bird’s Tail or other designers or styles?
KB: Right now, I am obsessed with anything with clean lines. I love making simple, hand-hammered geometric shapes; they make such a subtle statement. I love making a subtle, yet noticeable statement.
AN: How would you describe your personal taste in jewelry? How much is it reflected in Bird’s Tail?
KB: My style is definitely incorporated into each Bird’s Tail Piece. I don’t make something unless I know I would wear it, and wear it a lot!
I love fashion, maybe too much. I really like a combination of vintage, rustic and modern, and I try to translate these inspirations into our jewelry.
KB: We love working with boutiques and bringing the entire Bird’s Tail line to them. Most of the small shops that carry our line are small, female-run businesses. A pop-up shop gives small businesses the ability to offer a beautiful shopping experience without breaking the bank. We set up all of the jewelry and style it all in a way that reflects our brand.
We love bringing the Bird’s Tail line into people’s homes. With a jewelry party, women have the opportunity to touch and try on all of the pieces they like all in the comfort of friends and home. Hostesses even get 15% back in jewelry credit!
AN: How do you feel about the current fashion/jewelry industry in the Milwaukee area?
KB: Most people don’t think of Milwaukee as a fashion-forward city – the West and East coasts are typically what comes to mind as fashion trend setters, but I am really excited about the direction Milwaukee fashion is headed. When I first moved here to go to Marquette, the city was nothing like it is now. I think the additions of Third and Fifth Wards are a reflection of where Milwaukee is headed. Milwaukee has a rich history of design and production and it is always evolving.
AN: Do you have any words of wisdom for those interested in getting into the fashion and/or design field?
KB: My favorite quote by Sylvia Plath sums up my approach to business and design: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt” – When we believe in ourselves, and trust our instincts, only then can you be truly successful.
For more information and to shop the beautiful pieces and collections mentioned, visit Bird’s Tail Jewelry.
Earlier this month Chicago’s Empty Bottle hosted a Holiday Pop-Up Shop featuring the best of Krispy|Fringe Vintage (one of my Chicago favorites!). Pieces available for purchase included men and women’s vintage apparel from periods dating from the 1940’s-’90’s. Be sure to keep an eye out for future Krispy|Fringe Vintage events by visiting their website’s Event Page.
If you can’t wait until their next pop-up shop or are not in the Chicago area, visit their Etsy Shop to view their one-of-a-kind vintage collection of clothing, shoes, jewelry and home decor! View our photo gallery below for a peek at their latest event at the Empty Bottle!
The Chicago-based non-profit organization Live Out Loud Charity recently held its 8th Annual Fashion Show benefiting Anti-Bullying and Suicide Prevention. Founded by Sherrie Gearheart (President/Founder of Live Out Loud Charity and Ms. Illinois America 2018), the mission of Live Out Loud Charity (LOLC) is “to save lives through awareness and education.” Since it’s foundation in 2010, LOLC has reached millions of people across the world.
The fashion show and benefit was held at the historic Palmer House Hilton in Chicago’s Downtown Loop. The event kicked off with special award given to French designer, Wafaa Lahlah who was honored as the 2017 International Designer of the Year. The event continued with a beauty queen parade followed by a fashion show featuring the works of 12 fashion designers. These included Mario Humberto Garrida Pugo and Jorge Diaz of The Millennial Collection by MJ, Meme RollinsM.H.O.D., Royal Rose Fashion and Embroidery by Jackson Skyler, Hekature Designs and Creations by Hektor Martelle, Sharisa Couture Designs by Sharisa Freeman with Jewelry by Danaya Designs 4U, Abraham Garcia’s Moonlight Collection, Graciela Llorente,Jynah James’Kiti Kouture, Bella Lucci of DaLab 650E, Prana Makerby Natalia Marie, Annette Evans of Shear Gold Fashions, and Anjana Misra, who flew in from India for the event.
All of the designs were modeled by different ages, sizes and ethnicities. “Our models are real people affected by suicide, depression, bullying, and low self-esteem. Each person that walks our runway is empowered by our training and the incredible experiences they gain at LOLC events. Live Out Loud Charity is a major support system for individuals needing a positive outlet to rebuild their confidence,” states Founder Sherrie Gearheart. Along with the models on stage were performances by singers Kathy Navigato who donned a design by The Millennial Collection by MJ, and Nashville, Tennessee Indie star, Megan Wilde, who wore a blazer by Anajana Misra.
Though the event confronted tough issues, it was also a celebration of life, which is equally important. I know I am not alone when I say that at different points in my life I have been affected and/or have struggled with the issues being tackled by LOLC. Whether you are suicide survivor or struggling with your own self-esteem, it is important to know and remember that you are not alone and that you are worthy.
Click hereif you or someone you know needs help, or for more information on the Live Out Loud Charity and the important work they do.
Click here to view the powerful and educational speech given at the event by Sherrie Gearheart (Live Out Loud Charity’s Founder and Ms. Illinois America 2018) and view our photo gallery below capturing the amazing people and fashions from the night.