Category Archives: Business and Branding

Fashion…Not Forward

This weekend I attended a fashion show in Detroit. There were many beautiful pieces presented by different designers presented. HOWEVER… sadly, there were also many lessons on what NOT to do when presenting yourself to the public. The first lesson was punctuality. Some of us still haven’t mastered the idea of truly starting on time; particularly when people are paying us. The 8 pm fashion show didn’t start until well after 9 pm.  During this long lag time, they didn’t offer anyone anything for the inconvenience. No free drinks, no backup entertainment to fill the void, except for a DJ who was obviously playing his ‘runway” set, no stand up comedy – nothing. I caught a few people taking a nap right in their VIP seats along the runway. For other businesses, this would be considered poor customer service.

Another lesson that could be learned was putting your models in danger by not making sure they have a safe runway to walk on. The elevated runway was carpeted, with a sheet of shiny gift wrap…or aluminum foil, I’m not sure which… down the center of it, that wasn’t tacked down, so it kept moving out of place. At the front of the runway, from where the models took their first steps, was a weak stepladder for the models to use to step up on the runway. The majority of models were wearing six inches or higher stilettos. Further, as one model walked down the runway, the next model stood at the beginning, and they passed each other on the catwalk. Did I mention that these were plus size models? During the show at least three models lost their balance and several punctured the gift wrap laid before them like a silver brick road. Even the event hostesses Christina Mendez was leery of the runway and she’s a professional model with many accolades. For any other business, this would be considered unsafe working conditions.

The next lesson was on improper fitting clothes. I don’t fault the designers for wanting to sell the garments after the show, therefore they didn’t tailor the clothing to fit each model. HOWEVER…that’s what double-sided tape and safety pins are for. The back of dresses shouldn’t have gaps, whether the model is a size two or a size twenty-two. Then there was the makeup. Every clothing look shouldn’t have the same makeup look. This caused the models to all look like mannequins. Mannequins who didn’t smile because they were fearfully watching every step they took on the runway. The there were the undergarments worn by the models. Why could I see bras on open-backed dresses and panties under swimwear and lingerie? Has anyone heard of thongs and low back/backless bras? For any other business, this would be considered poor marketing.

As pretty as many of the clothes were, all of these before mentioned “lessons” were a distraction for anyone who noticed. Many of these issues could have been corrected had there been a creative director, or even someone more experienced in the production of fashion shows, on staff. If either of these people were behind the scenes… well, I’ll just say this: when you know better, you do better. All of these fashion show lessons made me think about my upcoming photo shoot and what I need to make sure I don’t do. I’ve very particular about the standards that I set for my public and professional image. Even when it comes to writing erotica, how I’m viewed matters to me. So now, I’m double checking how the clothes selected for my photo shoot fit me and I’m making sure that I have the appropriate undergarments for every single outfit.

This fashion show also made me think about how I want the fashion show for the upcoming I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul Women’s Conference to be handled. I already have an actual foremost fashion stylist to the stars on deck to make sure things are done correctly,and with style and class. Having a small amount of modeling experience myself, I’m going to make sure that the models feel comfortable on the runway as well. My first goal is to show young women what they can wear for many occasions and outings that won’t embarrass themselves or their parents. My second goal is to show adult women that regardless of their age, size and shape that they can be sexy and attractive, while also being age and shape appropriate. My next goal is to put on a good show without any potential mishaps that would cause people to fall on to the floor or on top of anyone else. My final goal is to assist young women to strive for all of the positive opportunities that living a purpose driven life can provide. So this summer, if all goes well, and I obtain a lot more sponsorships (because money is needed for this to be successful), I hope that we’ll be taking fashion a step forward from what I witnessed this past weekend.

The name of the fashion show and participating designers have been omitted from this blog to protect them from potential embarrassment.

Talent in Detroit

With all of the bad news, crime statistics and potential for receivership under an Emergency Financial Manager (regardless of what Mayor Bing said in his State of the City address a few days ago), we often forget about the talent that is deeply rooted and often overlooked in the City of Detroit. Detroit receives worldwide attention for the North American International Auto Show, the government scandals and the uprise of foreclosures leading to additional blight, but Detroit doesn’t receive the same level of attention for the talent that has grown and exists here. So many people have left the arms of the City of Detroit for the softer, greener pastures of Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York (where the competition is stiffer), in an effort to become break out stars. Many of whom have achieved that goal, while others have been sent running home with their tails tucked.

As I look at all of the talented people in Detroit, I sometimes overhear people stating that they want to step out on faith, leave the city and become successful elsewhere. This makes me wonder ~ If they put the same energy into remaining and working on their craft here, as they put into their plans for exodus, how successful would they become? The same plans a person has to become successful in another city, can be implemented for them to become successful in Detroit. Don’t get me wrong, I clearly understand that Detroit is behind the eight ball in technology, infrastructure, commerce and entertainment compared to larger urban meccas like Atlanta, the bright lights of Hollywood and the always busy streets of the Big Apple. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t improve. Improvement requires people with ideas, just as much as improvements cost money. I sometimes think that we’re getting what we get from our leadership simply because we don’t demand more from them. They have cut the arts from schools, they don’t appropriate Federal funds into the community the way they should and they would rather lay people off from work than have an Emergency Financial Manager uncover their corruption. This results in people losing hope and feeling that the promised land is elsewhere instead of underneath their feet. Those are some of the same issues other large cities have. It’s the national recession. It just hits cities like Detroit harder.

This weekend I had the privilege of attending Fashion in Detroit, an event sponsored and organized by Denise Ilitch (her father is the founder, owner and business mogul behind Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers), and Joe Faris (Project Runway contestant and Michigan native); two individuals who obviously have business and creativity in their blood. The afternoon was full of beautiful fashions designed mostly by Detroiters. Yes, fashion is present and alive in The D. Have you ever heard of a talented young lady by the name of Tracey Reese? She’s a graduate of Cass Technical High School in DETROIT.  Have you heard of Kevan Hall? He also is a native Detroiter. Shoe designers Shane and Shawn are also Detroiters and graduates of Cass Technical High School. If you didn’t know this, please allow me the privilege of educating you briefly…

Detroit has been fashionable since it was named Motown.  

Then there are the big names in entertainment like Tim Allen, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ellen Burstyn, Francis Ford Coppola, Jeff Daniels, David Alan Grier, Madoon, Eminem, Tom Selleck, Kid Rock, the late Sonny Bono, the late Aaliyah, Blair Underwood, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Bill McKinney, Big Sean, J Dilla, Brandon T. Jackson, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, The Clark Sisters, The Winans, and many, many others. The list of heavy hitters in entertainer from Detroit is so long that it would take another 500 words for me to name them all. But I think you get the point. Detroit is full of talent. But we have to nurture its growth. Even if success eventually pulls people from the city, we need those people to be proud of where they came from. It doesn’t hurt for them to come back and visit sometimes. I honestly believe that if the most successful people who originated from Detroit, would occasionally show up and embrace this city as their home. and use their influence to improve the city’s image, the leadership here would be compelled to do a better job representing the community. That’s just my opinion and I could be wrong. But will anyone step up and attempt to prove me wrong with action? Worse case scenario: Detroit receives POSITIVE media attention.

I know that the city requires a lot of work to rise from the ashes of the last several years. I believe that it can be done. I”m working to do my part to change its image. But I’m just one person. And I’ve noticed that the Detroit community hasn’t quite embraced The Brand; mostly because it’s not what they are accustomed to. Michigan is a working class state. As a result, creativity is often frowned upon and viewed as mere craziness. This attitude results in talented people feeling the need to flee to other cities where they hope to be more “accepted”. I’m blessed to have the encourage of my supporters to keep me from feeling defeated by the lack of love I receive from my city. The first major publication to interview me was Rollin’ Out Magazine which is published out of Atlanta. The first talk show to contact me to make an appearance was also in Atlanta. There are a lot of opportunities for me in Atlanta, that I will take advantage of very soon. Taking those opportunities may result in me temporarily relocating, which I’ve planned for when the time comes. But my movie writing career is rooted here in Detroit (more on that forthcoming) and my business is headquartered here. These are things that will always spark me to declare that I’m Imported from Detroit. I hope that one day my city re-embraces creatives and supports the local talent more than it has over the last several years. If not, it won’t limit the opportunities for creatives elsewhere, but it will have a detrimental effect on the way the world views what was once called Motown.