#18: Tran Wills
When Tran Wills won a Westword MasterMind award back in 2007, she was running the Fabric Lab, a boutique focused on local designers. That shop is long gone, but in the years since Wills moved on from East Colfax Avenue, she’s gone on to bigger and better things: design projects, new and morphing businesses, gallery spaces, boutiques, refined services. And she’s done it all while raising a family of four and supporting her husband, Josh, in his own career as a creative designer, bringing cosmopolitan and cutting-edge ideas to a bright and culture-savvy Denver constituency. What keeps her motor running on high? Learn more about Tran Wills from her answers to the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Tran Wills: I would have loved to collaborate with Alexander McQueen in a collection. I have always been in awe of his seamless, beautiful integration between fashion and art. The experience of being alongside him, the chance to witness his process, would have been such a privilege.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
All the women in the Denver community who make shit happen in their industry. I’m talking Shae Whitney from Dram Apothecary, Kate Kavanaugh from Western Daughters, Mary from the Proper Pour and Rino Yacht Club, Shelby from the Scarlett Headers, Marsha Robinson of Strange Dirt, Ali of Black Eye Coffee, Delanie at the Craftsman & Apprentice, Robin & Lynn of R.L. Linden, Shawn Hecox from the Woods Fine Jewelry, photographer Kristen Sink and Sandi Calistro of Ritual Tattoo Gallery. There are so many more. I have been incredibly humbled lately by what these business owners and artists are doing locally and nationally. I cannot wait to see how they are going to change their industries next.
In fact, I have been so inspired that I have been working on a once-a-month social club called Bad News Babes. I hope to gather these women who have been inspiring me, passing their knowledge to other women and men interested in starting their own businesses or creative endeavors. I want them to share it all, the good and the bad, having a real honest conversation. To let people know, especially women, that they are not alone in owning a business. Plus, it gives us all the chance to mingle over drinks and manicures!
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
If you value art, we need to value the people who create it. If you are an artist in any shape or form, you have been asked to do something for free or in exchange for “exposure.” As artists and creatives, we need to take a stand and say, “No Thanks!” My husband’s favorite saying: “Handshakes and high-fives don’t pay the bills.”
What's your day job?
I’m not sure “day job” any longer applies to me. I am the founder of Base Coat Nail Salon and co-founder of the gallery and boutique SVPER ORDINARY, as well as a mother of four and a wife to one. My days involve me running kids to school, picking them up, homework, meetings, submitting orders, planning events, more meetings and handling day-to-day business operations. It’s pretty much me trying to keep my life balanced being a mom, wife and businesswoman.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
When I started opening businesses, I first needed an affordable place to open a storefront, and I also needed a deeper understanding of the actual business side of my careers. With unlimited funds, I would love to provide this for all these artists and entrepreneurs who need an extra hand. I would buy back all the warehouse space in Denver that has been consumed by developers and the marijuana industry. I would create affordable spaces for small businesses to open and for artists to thrive. Set among them, I would hire Denver’s best. From lawyers to financial advisors, from advertising agencies to PR firms, I would integrate their services into these warehouses, providing support to all.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Artists need a place to create their art and need to be paid for the art they create. The best cities for art realize this by promoting their artists, creating affordable spaces for them to work, and offering more grants for the arts.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
That’s a tough one! I am inspired by the team behind ELLO, the incredible work that the Craftsman & Apprentice is doing, Fellow magazine, Leon Gallery. I am a really huge fan of artists Molly Bounds and Travis Hetman.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Well, a vacation would be nice. In the meantime, we signed a lease for Base Coat Nail Salon in the Arts District in Los Angeles. We are also beginning our search for a location in Boulder. We would love to see our brand expand, nationally selling our product line created with R.L. Linden, so that’s what is on our plate right now. For SVPER ORDINARY, we are also working on our own line of products and looking at ways to grow and evolve the brand.
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Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2015?
We have an amazing assortment of local brands creating well-made, beautiful, one-of-a-kind products. It is exciting to watch these local brands begin to garner national attention. They are so inspiring! We really should all be celebrating and supporting these artists.