As programming has expanded so too has the creative and professional staff at INTERFORM. With expertise ranging from art curation, fashion design and education, master tailoring, creative and artistic direction, non-profit development, public and radio personality, music production, and live event production, the team at INTERFORM is set to take on big ideas with a community focus. Learn more about this great group
(She / Her / Hers)
Chief Executive Officer, INTERFORM
Robin Wallis Atkinson is the founder and CEO of INTERFORM (formerly known as NWA Fashion Week and Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum). Atkinson’s professional career as a curator and arts organizer began in Northwest Arkansas in the early 2000’s. One of the founding members of Art Amiss Inc., she has been an active participant in the Northwest Arkansas arts community for over twenty years. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of Arkansas and a Masters of Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College in New York. Her curatorial highlights include serving on the curatorial team of Prospect. 1 New Orleans, the largest international contemporary art biennial in the United States, teaching curatorial curriculum at Bard Early College in Manhattan, a curatorial fellowship at the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, and assisting on traveling exhibitions throughout Asia and Europe.
Since Atkinson’s return to Arkansas and the reboot of NWA Fashion Week in 2016, she has provided opportunities for creatives of all backgrounds, working with a deep focus on inclusion and representation. Her work continues to lead by example towards the pursuit of equity, diversity, and inclusion. A nimble and expansively creative thinker, Atkinson saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to incubate sewn trades production to help close the gap in crucial PPE supplies in Northwest Arkansas through the development of a mask making campaign. By the end of 2021 INTERFORM has produced more than 25,000 face masks for donation to the local community. In 2021, she became a member of the NWA Business Journal’s 40 under 40 club, and in 2022 she secured a transformational three-year grant from the Walton Family Foundation that will allow INTERFORM to scale its sewn trades programs with the goal of reestablishing apparel manufacturing in the heartland.
(She / Her / Hers)
Chief Operating Officer, INTERFORM
Daymara Baker is a consumer products marketing, sales and procurement professional with over 20 years of experience with an international company, market-leading promotional agencies and social enterprises. Daymara held various roles at Chiquita Brands International from marketing, shopper marketing, business management to director of sales for Walmart/Sam’s Club. Before joining Chiquita, she served as the Account Director for The Integer Group and prior to that, Daymara was the Account Service Manager for ThompsonMurray. Daymara is currently running her social enterprise, Rockin’ Baker, a life-changing artisan bread bakery training and employing neurodiverse young adults to facilitate transition into permanent employment. She is also currently the Sr Advocate for Right to Start, a nonpartisan organization working with policy makers and entrepreneurs to remove red tapes and barriers to entrepreneurship. Here is her latest column on how Arkansas could lead the efforts in leveling the playing field for womanpreneurs. Daymara previously co-founded the Community Creative Center in Fayetteville. Daymara earned a MBA from the University of Arkansas and graduated Magna Cum Laude. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Arkansas, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Daymara is originally from La Guaira, Venezuela.
(He / Him / His)
Senior Director of Small Batch and Manufacturing, INTERFORM
Born and raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, Richard pursued an Associates and a Bachelors in Fashion and Design. Even before culminating his professional degrees his technical expertise passed down from familiar generations and avant-garde design aesthetics earned him recognitions in major magazines like Ocean Drive and HOLA. Shortly after graduating Richard had the opportunity to work along prominent design houses and manufacturing facilities in the Island, something that sparked an interest for manufacturing and the technical side of the apparel world. In 2014 he moved to the United States to complete his Masters with a concentration in Arts and Apparel Design. Living by the philosophy of “dare to be deviant from the norm” his design aesthetic has evolved and transformed in the search for understanding the human body in order to create a gender/queer design line that encompasses structure, intent and empowerment. His approach to fashion has given him the opportunity to show his work in some of the biggest fashion week platforms in the USA and South America. In 2016 Richard decided to join apparel Corporate America in the search for that technical spark that came to be back in Puerto Rico. Since then his professional career has been focused not only in design but in every area of the product lifecycle; from product development, technical design and pattern making to supply chain, logistics and production for companies and clients like Dillards, Under Armour, and New Balance to mention a few.
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Senior Director of Fashion Design & Apparel Education, INTERFORM
Basana Chhetri is a Nepalese-American designer from Arkansas. Born and raised in Nepal and educated and trained in Nepal, Japan and England, Basana Chhetri is a costume designer and & artist by profession. After completing her fashion design education in Kyoto, Japan, she returned back to her native country Nepal and started multiple businesses and boutiques along with the first Fashion School in Nepal, called “Contemporary Institute of Arts and Fashion”. Over the span of 20+ years she has contributed towards the Govt. of Nepal’s fashion design curriculum, showcased her designs in various fashion shows, been a panel judge for Miss Nepal, managed a business that produced and marketed designer pashmina products in Japan, been an educator and advisor to fashion institutions in Nepal and the founder and main designer for a boutique in London. She has also showcased her creative work in fine arts with paintings on stretched canvases, plain silk and wearable fabrics while creating a fusion of traditional art-work and apparel design. Her solo exhibitions were held in Tokyo, New York and the Walton Art gallery in Fayetteville Arkansas. She has also presented her work in NWA Fashion week for two seasons. Previously, Basana has worked with Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum in teaching sewing & stitching classes focused on Marshallese students to empower women in the local community. Basana is quintilingual with an extensive cross cultural upbringing and exposure that shapes her creative expressions.
(He / Him / His)
Senior Director of Community Engagement & Program Development, INTERFORM
Zack Ridenoure is a Northwest Arkansas native. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville with a degree in Human Environmental Science majoring in Apparel Studies he moved to Dallas, Texas to continue his professional career as a visual merchandiser. At the privately owned department store, Stanley Korshak he dove deeper into the fashion side of retail, assisting on multiple photoshoots and managing the backstage of numerous fashion shows. After three years in Dallas, he moved to New York City where his continued career in visual merchandising opened up even more opportunities to grow. He led store openings, styled seasonal e-commerce photoshoots, and managed backstage of fashion shows for New York Men’s Fashion Week with the men’s clothing brand Suitsupply. He then took a position with men’s luxury brand Ermenegildo Zegna as a visual merchandiser for the Northeast in wholesale and quickly moved into the retail division. Zack has now returned to his hometown after eleven years abroad with the experience and passion to help INTERFORM continue to cultivate a community of arts and fashion.
(He / Him / His)
Director of Events & Production, INTERFORM
James Whalen is the Director of Events & Production for INTERFORM. He grew up in Northwest Arkansas, but is originally from the United Kingdom. As a graduate of SAE: Institute of Technology, New York City in Audio Engineering, James has spent the last 15 years working in all aspects of production, design, and support for events, theatre, and house-of-worship productions. He has been a Sound Designer and Engineer on Off-Broadway productions that have received critical acclaim, helped teams produce almost 2,000 events in a single year, and has been involved with NWA Fashion Week since 2014. James has spent his career supporting the teams and people around him and is excited to bring that same level of care and commitment to the INTERFORM team and the communities and programs they work with. When not in the office, you’ll usually find James going on adventures with his wife Jess and their two dogs, Ron and Leslie, renovating their house, researching something, watching YouTube, playing Destiny 2, or spending time laying down on the pickleball court.
(She / Her / Hers)
Communication Manager, INTERFORM
Ro Bailey is a former radio personality, veteran, and model who joined INTERFORM as the Communications Manager in October 2020. Born in California and raised in East Tennessee, Bailey moved to Fayetteville in 2012 with her son True and has enjoyed living and working in Northwest Arkansas. Shortly after moving to NWA, she became involved with Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week in 2015 as a runway and editorial model. By 2017, she became NWAFW’s Assistant Director of Modeling where she mentors new models and trains them in how to walk confidently on the runway, build their portfolios, prioritize their health and safety, and expand their brands. With her background in radio, Bailey currently hosts INTERFORM podcast, a biweekly podcast with a fresh perspective on current events with insightful guests and thought-provoking episodes. In less than a year, INTERFORM podcast had over 500 downloads. Ro strives to be an asset to her family and her community through cultivating diversity and visibility for local models.
(She / Her / Hers)
Marketing Coordinator, INTERFORM
Berenice Alcala, originally from the colorful country of Mexico, was raised in Northwest Arkansas. Her journey in working for the community began in 2017, where she has been able to gain vast experience in the nonprofit sector in event coordination, project management, social media management, marketing, and creative work, catapulting her career as a young professional. She is very passionate about community integration and making a positive impact. She holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Her love for fashion and modeling introduced her to INTERFORM where she has participated in various fashion week events. Her two passions merged when she officially joined the INTERFORM team in the summer of 2022. She is excited to continue growing and learning and being a part of an amazing team and serving her community.
(He / Him / His)
Coordinator of Sewing Operations, INTERFORM
Abwe Abedi moved to Northwest Arkansas on May 8, 2018. He is a survivor of his original country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1996, he fled to a refugee camp in Tanzania where he was for 22 years. Abwe graduated with a degree in Church’s Leadership and Growing at Colorado AFMIN Leadership Institute while he was at Nyaruguse Refugee Camp in Tanzania on June 4, 2017. He is the founder of Grace Church and Of Grace (Groupe de Réflexion et d’Actions Communautaires d’Epanoruissement), a development initiative in that refugee camp. They worship, teach English as a Second Language (ESL), and sewing practice. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Abwe’s previous employer reduced his hours, but he (Jabez; 1 Chronicle 4:9-10) got grace to recover a full-time contract job with INTERFORM (formally known as Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum) in April 2020 to share the sewing skills he has acquired over 25 years to sew masks to donate to prevent the community spread of COVID-19. On May 29, 2020, Abwe became Director of Sewing Operations as a full-time employee of INTERFORM in June 2020. That did he rejoice in. Psalm 46:1
(She / Her / Hers)
Sewing Studio Assistant, INTERFORM
Jessica Robin McClendon has lived in Northwest Arkansas her whole life. She has sewn since she was a child learning from both her mother and grandmother, but really explored it in a whole new way in the Theater Department at the University of Arkansas. Excited by this new possibility she worked as a seamstress at the theater costume shop most of her college years and graduated in 2001 with a theater degree having specialized in costuming. In the early 2000s she began selling items she had created including hand embroidered bags, velveteen bunnies, and other creations. Recent sewing explorations include creating a sewing club for elementary children, creating a sewing curriculum for a middle school classroom, learning to block print fabric, trying natural dying with avocado pits (which makes a pink color surprisingly), patterning stuffed animals, hosting a kids craft show, sewing clothing using vintage patterns, studying ethnic clothing, repurposing and repairing clothing, knitting a sweater, getting vintage sewing machines working again, perfecting pocketed skirty pants, and sewing with her 12 year old daughter. She loves the way sewing and working with your hands creates a shared space.
(She / Her / Hers)
Product Development & Manufacturing Manager, INTERFORM
She has been involved with Interform in multiple contexts, including presenting a small collection in the inaugural NWAFW, co-managing the mask production workshop during Covid, and serving on the board of directors. She has also created custom and small-batch apparel under the self-owned label j.marie. She competed in an apparel design competition at the American Sewing Expo, placing in the top three over two consecutive years. She enjoys many creative endeavors including sewing, carpentry, graphic design, interior design and painting. She also enjoys travel, exploring, and trying new things- her most recent adventure is learning how to roller skate. She has two amazing daughters, June and Vivienne, and two ridiculous dogs, Lulu and Theo.
(They / Their / Theirs)
Assistant Instructor of Sewing and Apparel Education, INTERFORM
Braxton Carney has been creating and making things since childhood here in NWA. Growing up their family members always enabled them to pursue anything they could get their hands on from quilting and crochet, to baking and cooking. In early school years they started a 9 year journey into ceramics and pottery. After high school they moved to St. Louis for a few years and attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During the beginning of the pandemic they moved back to NWA and started pursuing the creative arts again. They were brought onto the Format Festival build team and created everything from a 30 foot drag queen DJ booth to a disco ball finger. In May 2022 Braxton started taking classes through the Learn Studio and has now been brought onto the Interform team as an assistant instructor of Sewing & apparel education. Outside of the arts Braxton enjoys spending their time outdoors gardening, kayaking, hiking, or swimming.
(She / Her / Hers)
Manufacturing Operator, INTERFORM
My name is Gina Janer and I was raised in the Marshall Islands. I moved to Springdale, AR back in 2006. In 2016, I began to take sewing classes at INTERFORM which has opened the door to many opportunities. I currently work as a professional sewist here. I want to give thanks to Basana, Jessica, Abwe, Richard, and INTERFORM staff for helping and supporting me.
(She / Her / Hers)
Manufacturing Operator, INTERFORM
My name is Sikitu Mbuto. I’m originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have resided in Arkansas since 2018, where I began learning about sewing at INTERFORM. I love all my teachers. My whole mind is that God bless you for volunteering to teach us even if we don’t know English!
(She / Her / Hers)
Development Consultant, INTERFORM
Meagan Zavala was born and raised in Massachusetts, moved to New York City where she attended and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. After graduating, Zavala went on to work in marketing roles at the corporate office for women’s and men’s fashion brands – Milly by Michelle Smith and Hickey Freeman Tailored Clothing to name a few. During her time with these companies, she worked on all aspects of marketing from ad campaign planning to retail marketing strategy. At Hickey Freeman, Zavala managed photoshoots, worked to enhance our DTC business through email marketing, and in-store event planning. She supervised their philanthropic program – “Heroes & Leaders” – which provided hundreds of tailor-made suits to veterans. After moving to Bentonville, Arkansas with her husband about a year and a half ago – Zavala started a small personal styling and shopping business and simultaneously started getting involved in the local art and fashion scene in Northwest Arkansas. In August 2019, she joined the INTERFORM team (formally known as Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum) as Director of Development. Since joining, Zavala she has planned and executed fundraisers, community activations, and grants. Since joining the team, she has been involved in creating the dialogue and programming around enhancing and growing the local fashion landscape.
(She / Her / Hers)
Community Liaison, INTERFORM
Rachel Woody-Pumford is the Community Liaison for INTERFORM. She moved to Arkansas from the Dallas-area to attend the University of Arkansas where she graduated in 2015 summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Woody-Pumford began volunteering with Arkansas Fashion Week in May 2017 while looking for a creative outlet to utilize her administrative skills with her love of fashion and working with the community. She became INTERFORM’s (formerly known as Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum’s) first full-time employee in August 2018 as the Executive Assistant and transitioned to the Educational Program Coordinator in May 2019 and then Director of Programming in Spring 2020. She was a pivotal figure in the development of all of INTERFORM’s Educational Pilot Programs and continues to expand educational workshops and mentorship opportunities for Arkansas-based creatives.
Born and raised in a suburb of St. Louis, MO, Jack has lived in Fayetteville, AR since 2007. He found his way to Fayetteville after having received a bachelor’s as DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, and completing a two-year commitment to the Teach for American Corps in Charlotte, NC. Jack moved to Arkansas to transition out of education and into the for-profit sector as he worked in manufacturing sales for Ash Grove Packaging. He continued to work there while attending graduate school at the University of Arkansas until graduation in 2011 when he transitioned to Rich Products, where he works today. Throughout his entire life, Jack has always been drawn to charity, a way to support and give back to the community he has received so much from. As an undergrad, Jack served as the logistics coordinator for Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society in the second-largest event in the nation. As a young professional, Jack served as an Assistant Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop in Charlotte, NC, and has helped several organizations in Arkansas ranging from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Redbone Fishing Tournament to the American Diabetes Association Kiss A Pig Gala and American Heart Association’s Paint the Town Red. Jack got involved with Fashion Week in 2017 when Jordan Sherrod, Chairman Emeritus, asked to help organize volunteers for the event. He has continued to support the organization since as a means to help local designers, artists, and small businesses in Northwest Arkansas.
Kathleen Gonzalez is a native Californian who was raised in Mexico and returned to the United State to attend school at the University of Arkansas in 2007. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with her BA in Architecture Studies in 2011. In 2018 she received her Master’s In Business Administration from John Brown University in Siloam Springs. She has been a part of the NWAFW family since 2013 where she began as a model. She is currently participating in her current role as Director of Modeling for NWAFW where she trains and coaches models on the runway and editorials. She lives in Bentonville with her son, Christopher, and works for The Coca-Cola Company as a Data Analyst. She is also currently serving on The University of Arkansas Alumni Board of Directors.
Meredith is a patent attorney, assisting a variety of individual entrepreneurs and companies in their efforts to obtain a patent, trademark, and copyright protection. Her practice is focused on the variety of consumer goods and fashion items developed and commercialized here regionally and internationally. In 2015, she drafted the legislation to protect the likeness of individual Arkansas residents from commercialization, which is commonly known as the Broyles Act and is the most recent legislative change to intellectual property law in Arkansas. Meredith has been named a Rising Star by Mid-South Super Lawyers from 2012-2015 in the field of Intellectual Property and is included in the 2018 and 2019 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® in Patent Law.
Meredith is an active volunteer in Northwest Arkansas, also lending her time beyond AAFF to the following committees and organizations:
*Alzheimer’s Association’s Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football team as co-captain for NWA Team Brunette
*American Diabetes Association planning committee for the annual Kiss a Pig Gala
*Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families Northwest Arkansas Soup Sunday committee
*Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center, Fayetteville speaker
*Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Artinfusion council
*Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fayetteville planning committee
*Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit planning committee and as co-chair in 2017
*Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit Women in Technology planning committee chair
*Scott Family Amazeum annual Ungala planning committee
*Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA Development Committee and Community Leadership Council
A respected business strategist both in Arkansas and across the globe, Denise Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in international trade. She has built a career connecting people and products through bilateral partnerships that focus on ethical sourcing and sustainability. Denise is passionate about helping small businesses grow and access the global marketplace, and she uses her expansive network to empower professionals with the tools they need to increase clientele and connect with the right partners.
A 14-year veteran of the World Trade Center Arkansas, Denise most recently served as the Center’s director of Africa, European and Middle East trade. But her career in economic development began in Florida, where she joined the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce in 1998. There she created a small business center with the U.S. Small Business Administration to house several chambers and centers under one roof. The location became a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.
A California native, Denise has made her home in Northwest Arkansas since 2003, when she joined Walmart as a recruiter. She worked with the world’s largest retailer to build strategic teams in diverse markets, both domestically and internationally. Eager to share her talents and resources, Denise works to empower the next generation of Arkansas leaders by encouraging them to live complete, rich, harmonious, love-filled lives.
Tony Waller is Senior Director, Constituent Relations for Walmart in Bentonville, AR. In his position, he actively works in helping to set strategy for the company’s outreach opportunities and social investments in diverse and multicultural communities. His portfolio includes the African American, Hispanic, Asian American & Pacific Islander, and Native American communities as well as Women, People with Disabilities, and Millennials. Tony joined Walmart in December 2006.
Tony is a strong supporter of the arts and serves on the Corporate Advisory Council of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, AR. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he is a diehard WAHOO. He remains very active with The University and served on the board of the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund, named after its first African-American graduate. In addition, he is a passionate collector of African-American art & sculpture, antique watches, vintage cuff links, eyewear, children’s storybooks and quotes. Shoes however are his kryptonite.
Tony strives to live each and every day by the words of his mother, Barbara jean Motley Waller, “Keep flowing with The River for The River knows exactly where It is going.”
Korto Momolu (pronounced Cut • Toe – Mo • Mo • Lu)A fashion designer and stylist. Korto was born in Monrovia, Liberia and lived there until 1990 with her parents and siblings. They left due to civil war and settled in Canada where Korto pursued her passion and studied fashion design at the L’Academies des Couturiers Design Institute in Ottawa, Canada. Since her stint on Project Runway & Project Runway Allstars, Korto has traveled the world showcasing her collections and accessory lines. Her works have been privately labeled by the National fashion chain Dillards. Korto designed the inaugural uniforms for the Crystal Bridges museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas and her accessories have been showcased at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Fashion Press include but are not limited to Vogue, Elle, Ebony, Essence and Arise Magazines. Korto continues to make Arkansas home with her son and daughter.
Sonia started at Sam’s Club in 2008 as the program lead for
the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology initiative.
This resulted in the first ever proof of concept for a point of sale
checkout in less than 30 seconds. In 2010, Sonia transitioned to
Merchandise Transformation Strategic Planning and Systems
Development to build systems and processes for assortment,
replenishment and PO management. In 2011 she was promoted
to Operations Innovations Supply Chain Strategy Manager
focused on in-club stocking and receiving processes. Sonia then
moved into the core merchandising organization in 2014 as the
Planning and Allocation Director for Home, Tire Battery Center, Planning and Allocation Director for Seasonal in 2017 and Merchandise Strategy Sr. Director for Home, Apparel, Seasonal, TBC, Jewelry in 2018 and in 2019 moved to Walmart US as the Merchandise Operations Sr. Director for Beauty. Leadership Development includes being a co-chair on the Women’s Resource Council and a co-lead for the Walmart Career Moms. Graduate of the Leadership Academy Program. Successfully completed GAP Partnership Negotiations Training – The Complete Skilled Negotiator, and now participates in the ASCENT Program and led a Mentoring Lean-In Circle. Sonia is an Arkansas native and loves being a wife to Darryl and mother to Daniel, Cori and Drew. She’s also a writer, social content contributor, a Big Sister with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program of Northwest Arkansas, active in her local graduate chapter of her sorority, and youth sports coach.
Heartland Director / Venture Noire
Emma Willis’ career has spanned from marketing to financial services to business strategy, thought leadership focused on higher education savings and resources for startups.
Willis recently was named chief operating officer for Bentonville-based Venture Noire, a nonprofit focused on supporting Black entrepreneurs.
Acquiring her business acumen with Sam’s Club right after college, Betsy soon moved on to develop a national CPG account across the country. Her entrepreneurial spirit lead her into real-estate and eventually to open FreeRide Studio. Having sold the studio, she now enjoys riding bikes more than ever and encouraging women to also find the joy that comes from being on a bike.