What do you get when you cross a passion for fashion with an entrepreneurial spirit? Kathy Bacon, founder of Dress for Success Denver and Fashion Forward Radio. This longtime supporter of the scene took a few minutes away from the mike to answer a few questions about Fashion Forward Radio and the scene in general.
Westword: What is your take on the fashion scene in Denver? What is good, what's bad, what needs work?
Kathy Bacon: I have watched the fashion scene grow and change since I landed in Denver in 2000. I believe that there were a lot of creatives working separately instead of together at that time. I didn't understand that. How come there were three different Denver fashion weeks? Why weren't these talented creatives working together to create one major fashion event that would knock everyone's socks off? Denver was still a long way off at that time from being a city that would be known for its fashion.
I slowly got to know them. I was inspired by their hard work. I have watched this creative community be more open with each other. It has been wonderful to watch. Many of them came together for the Fashion Project at Tamarac Square a few years back to raise money for Dress for Success Denver, an organization I started and ran for four years; designers unselfishly raised $10,000. I vowed at that time that I would do whatever it took to help them in any way I could. I had connections and I knew people who could start supporting this fashion community. I had the ability to connect them to people in the city that had interest. I was fortunate to be asked to help start projects like the Denver Design Incubator and FAD. I am proud to say that those organizations are still going and learning about how they fit into Denver's scene.
I won't say that anything is bad about the fashion scene, because it is all about learning. It's about looking at Denver and truly building something. That takes time, commitment and people willing to just put themselves out there and "do something." That's how we learn. Sitting back and complaining about what hasn't happened instead of all the good things that are happening has given designers another direction. It has inspired them to keep going, keep pushing for what they love. If all of the fashion community of Denver would start thinking about We instead of Me, we would see tremendous growth and change. We would also see this community thrive with unlimited support.
How did you decide that Denver needed Fashion Forward Radio?
I decided that I wanted to highlight fashion and hear the stories of designers, photographers, filmmakers, hairstylists, make-up artists =- anyone involved in fashion all over the world. I first interviewed the CEO for Melissa Shoes and then Page Parks Center of Modeling & Acting -- Angelina Jolie's first stop. I had a list of designers I wanted to interview. It occurred to me that perhaps I needed to start with the fashion community in my own back yard, Denver. Today's Woman Network broadcasts Fashion Forward Radio in a number of cities and is expanding. It's great exposure for Denver creatives.
I vowed to support my local fashion community and that is just what I am doing. I am honored to sit with creatives one on one and hear their stories. To be inspired. To empower them to keep doing what they are doing. I believe it gives all my guests a confidence that they didn't know they had. We have a conversation and we both learn through the experience. What could be better?
Why is having a fashion community important to Denver?
I believe it is important to have a fashion community because we need to be diverse and support all kinds of creative people. We have a thriving creative community. Denver is not a cow-town; Denver is on the map. If we can get to a place where there are manufacturing options, it will create jobs and revenue for our city and creatives won't leave for L.A. or New York. They will stay put because all they need to succeed will be at their fingertips. I think there are individuals trying to put these pieces in motion. For that I am grateful. Keep reading for more from Kathy Bacon.
Who are some of your favorite local designers?
Who are some of my favorite local designers? That's a hard question. I seem to find something I like about all of our local designers. There are so many new designers I don't know. Each one is unique and very individual in who they are and the type of designs they do. Some of the designers that I know and love are Mona Lucero, Gino Velardi, Tricia Hoke, Maggie Burns, Fallene Wells, Kristen Littlejohn, Julie Tierney, Frances Roces, Stephanie Ohnmacht.
What can we do to better support fashion in Denver?
We can better support fashion in Denver by working together. I am all about that -- including all people who are interested in fashion could be huge for Denver. Can you imagine what that would be like? Financiers, business gurus, fashion designers, photographers, magazines owners -- there are very interesting people doing Fashion Week. I would love to see one big one every year. Like Fashion Week in NY, same time each year -- something we can count on.
Purchase from your favorite designer. Most of them do custom work, so have designs made. Attend trunk shows, fashion and shows. Seek out designers and tell them how much you love their work. All of this brings confidence and empowerment to designers who are pursuing their dreams in a very tough industry.
How can we get into Fashion Radio and how can the fashion community support you?
The first thing the fashion community can do is listen to the interviews. They are aired every Sunday at 11 a.m. MST. Listening will familiarize them with my guests, who are from Denver. If they miss the broadcast they can hear the archives on Today's Woman Network website, todayswomannetwork.com. If people like what they hear, they can sign up to be a sponsor and get air time in a commercial tailored to them and their business.
Creatives can get on Fashion Forward Radio by calling me and meeting me. My business cards give my phone number, not my e-mail. The reason for that is that I want to make contact. I want to hear their voice and for them to hear mine. I am open to meeting face to face. Invite me to your showroom if that is applicable. Toot your horn. I don't know all the designers out there. There are many new ones who are in oultlying areas. I want to hear from them, too.
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Everyone has a story of why they chose fashion. I want to hear it and give others the opportunity to hear it. The fashion community can support me by inviting me to their shows as press. I will be happy to broadcast their events. Posting their shows on the Fashion Forward Radio Facebook page is another way to get my attention. Everyone needs to know that I love fashion and fabric and all different kinds of designs. I love it, all so include me. I can also emcee their event and would be honored to support them in any way they see fit. Let's help each other!