MEET THE

DESIGNERS IN RESIDENCE

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Kerrie Aaron:KLOTHED:31 is an emerging handmade, ethical, inclusive & modest slow-fashion brand inspired by the Proverbs 31 woman. Designer, Kerrie Aaron strives to create a collection of garments that allow expression of style, creativity, versatility & authenticity. She learned to sew at a very early age from her mother who taught her sewing skills & garment construction. “ I’ve always loved fashion! Having the ability to create from a blank slate of fabric & giving life to a sketch/idea - absolutely love it! ” In 2019, Kerrie took a leap of faith to pursue her fashion dreams of design & runway; hence emerged KLOTHED:31. Each garment is handcrafted by Kerrie with quality craftsmanship & attention to details. She is passionate about having exclusive clothing. She believes GOD is our designer & we were created to be unique & set apart! “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:14).
Ruby Moore:Ruby Moore is the Lead Designer for Ruby Ru Designs. Ruby has been married to her husband Ken for more than 25 years, she has three adult children and two beautiful granddaughters. 3 year old Kyleigh Rose, and 2 year old Michelle Kaye Nicole!! Ruby’s desire to create beautiful Fashions started when she was a teenager, as her mom Pauline Black so diligently taught her the art of sewing. Ruby has over 30 years of construction and design experience and has designed for many women in the central Arkansas area. Ruby has an eye for beautiful colors and textures of fabrics and knows who to bring out the beauty in every woman. Her passion for designing was reignited in 2014 when her then teenage daughter wanted her to design her beautiful senior prom gown. Ruby Ru Designs caters to women of all shapes and sizes. Her aesthetic is to create beautiful and timeless garments that exclude elegance and confidence. Her beautiful garments have been showcased over many venues to include NorthWest Arkansas Fashion Week. With her collection Ruby Ru Designs will bring class and elegance to any runway.
Oliver Fitzpatrick:Oliver Michael Fitzpatrick is the founder of N-Deed Regime. He is from Little Rock, AR. His parents are Oliver Fitzpatrick Jr and Nadine Fitzpatrick. He has a younger brother Iain Thai Fitzpatrick and older sister Shaninna Fitzpatrick. His love of fashion began at at a young age when he started dressing himself at the age of 4. He started Ndeed Regime in 2013 selling custom bow ties and watches. He went to Arkansas Fashion School and studied under the great Jamileh Kamran. Here is where he honed his skills of sewing. He then began to make his own custom bow ties. As time went by his skills and talents increased and he found the passion of designing suits for men and women. He has designed suits for weddings, homecomings, proms and other events. His love of fashion and craftsmanship has continued to grow, develop, and evolve. Ndeed Regime has been featured in fashion shows in New York, Hollywood California, and Atlanta. He says N-Deed Regime is very special to him because he wants to show young men how to be fashionable and stylish and also how to dress for success. He was told two things that always stuck with him first “You dress for the job that you want not the job that you have” and “Your can never have another first impression.” Trust me once you see Oliver Michael Fitzpatrick and N-Deed Regime it will be an impression you will always remember. It’s just different.
Alyssa Graves:Alyssa B. Ibos is the principal designer and owner of A. Brook’s Designs and Apparel. Alyssa was exposed to sewing and constructing clothing from an early age by her grandmother, but didn’t truly gain an interest in design until she was attending college at the University of Arkansas where she graduated with a Bachelor's in Apparel Merchandising & Product Development. Alyssa went on to show at NWA Fashion Week in spring and fall of 2018, and participated in an emerging designer program at New York Fashion Week. Since then, she has continued to design and create custom apparel for clients across the United States, obtained her Master’s in Education, and is combining her love of teaching and fashion with a new program at the Don Tyson School of Innovation this year. Every garment at A. Brook’s Designs is a one of a kind piece, that can only truly be displayed by the one of a kind person who wears it. This concept of uniqueness and outward expression is what drives Alyssa’s passion and creativity as she creates couture bridal, special occasion pieces, and ready to wear garments for all.
Brandy Lee:Big Sister Studio is a fashion design and sewing studio that creates one-of-a-kind clothing and home goods. Started in Austin, TX in 2017 by Brandy Lee, Big Sister Studio was created out of a love for textiles, style and creating thoughtful pieces for life. The Big Sister workshop is currently located in Fayetteville, Ar. The studio curates, designs and handcrafts each piece with an intense attention to detail and highly-skilled craftsmanship.
Elizabeth Koerner:Elizabeth Koerner doesn’t remember not being interested in fashion and loves to learn. She doesn’t want to live without gratitude, faith in Jesus and curiosity. She loves her family and is an involved woman investing in others and in community to make a difference in the world. Elizabeth loves to laugh, really enjoys relationships and loves to encourage others. Elizabeth is honored to be selected to participate as a Designer in Residence in the EMERGE 4 Program. She is looking forward to EMERGE 4. At the same time she is thankful for the learning and growth experienced through INTERFORM EMERGE program’s training, collaboration and presentations as well as, NWA Fashion Week runways, and The Collective Movie, all opportunities in which she has participated. Respecting differences and being curious about who we are and where we have come from can result in wonder, openness and a willingness to listen and learn from one another. This learning inspires creativity for Elizabeth’s design as does: nature, art, music, texture, fabric, beauty, travel, architecture and culture. Elizabeth loves to design Everyday Runway clothing inspiring the wearer to feel fabulous every single day. Elizabeth expresses youthful active sophisticated women’s spirit through quality, classic and artful design. Women feel beautiful, are comfortable and show their style effortlessly in Elizabeth. To contact Elizabeth Koerner: elkoerner.18@gmail.com

MEET THE

DESIGNER COHORT

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Our Designer Cohort is made of 5 up-and-coming designers from the Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Their participation in the EMERGE program consists of one on one sessions with Designer in Residence, Brandy Lee, as well as group sessions every month with the Emerge Mentors. They participated in group critique sessions, as well as marketing training, and brand consultation. Their final project is an entrepreneurial project pitch in the Fall of 2021 to determine whether their collections are viable for manufacturing.

ABWE ABEDI: Abwe Abedi moved to Northwest Arkansas on May 8, 2018. Abwe, his wife, and their 7 children are originally from Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a talented sewist and joined Interform in March 2020. This began a new episode in his life. As well as sewing for Interform he also teaches a sewing class in Swahili to other Congolese sewists. He believes that life is a cycle of learning and studying and that we need to learn new things from each other in life’s way. This is why he wants to learn more about design, improve his sewing skills, and learn more about the diversity of the world’s models.
AUBREY COSTELLO: Aubrey Costello is a queer autistic fashion designer and costumer based in Northwest Arkansas. The guiding belief for their work is that clothing is a powerful medium of storytelling & escapism, and thus they are passionate about all forms of storytelling through clothing: be it theatre or dance costuming, high fashion, or historical interpretation. Aubrey was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains and learned to sew from a young age from their mother, who in turn learned from her mother. Besides their homeland of Arkansas, Aubrey has also lived and worked in Helsinki, Finland. Their designs are informed by their neurodivergence, trans identity, and commitment to sustainability. Aubrey makes clothes and headdresses for people of all sizes, abilities, and genders; utilizing haute couture and historical construction techniques, using recycled and reclaimed materials whenever possible, and maintaining an eye for detail. Aubrey was an Honors College Fellow at the University of Arkansas, where they graduated in 2018 with a degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development. They have recently returned to pursue a Master of Science degree at the same institution.
DARCY AMES HARRIS: My name is Darcy Harris and I am a self taught seamstress. I grew up in NW Arkansas and my husband and I are now raising our four children here. I started a handmade children’s clothing company Darwin and Delilah in 2014 and then opened a vintage and handmade clothing store in Fayetteville; Crimson and Clover in 2017. While most of my designs are for children I create some clothing for adults too. I love using upcycled and vintage fabrics and often incorporate embroidered or hand appliquéd details to my creations. My original designs are inspired by nature, animals and iconic characters from my childhood. Always fun and a little bit quirky. I aim to evoke a sense of nostalgia for previous decades.
FAIRDA DEBORAH: Faida Deborah is the oldest of 5 children who moved here with their mother on August 18, 2021. They are all originally from Democratic Republic of Congo. She joined a sewing class conducted by Interform in November 2021 and participated in Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week as both a designer and model. She is joining Emerge to learn more about design and hopes to one day own a small business and help her family, especially her mom.
MERELY MACK: Merely Mack. Merely Mack worked as an UAMS employee and served as an embedded Medical Assistant/CHW at Washington Regional Medical Center. Ms. Mack is currently in school and is on track to get her Bachelor of Science in Radiology Imaging from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Ms. Mack grew up in the Marshall Islands and used to watch her grandmother and mother sewed endless ensembles. She’s been fascinated about sewing and has now fulfilled her dream when she became one of Interform Fashion’s students. Ms. Mack career goals seek to use the knowledge she will gain from Emerge and look forward to show-cased her culture’s designs here in Northwest Arkansas.
NATALIE CRUZ: Hi, I'm Natalie and like a true millennial and Virgo, I call myself a "creative" with a heavy dose of imposter syndrome. I've been collecting design ideas in my notes app for (too) many years. Images of clothing pieces have popped into my brain throughout my life that I've searched for in stores with no success. For the first time, as part of the Emerge program, I'll be plucking these wishful designs out of my brain and bringing them into existence. I want to remember one important value as I work my way through my anxiety to become a capital-c Creative and Designer: If a fat person can't wear it, I don't want to make it.
ZAWADI LUKOKO: Zawadi Lukoko moved to Northwest Arkansas on March 7, 2019 as a single mother of 8 children, including two sets of twins, all originally from Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2021 she has been taking sewing classes with Interform. By participating in Emerge she hopes to keep her sewing skill level high and learn more about a diversity of styles. She enjoys sewing and hopes for her skills to be helpful to her family and community. She is often heard saying “Enjoy America”.
ISRAEL RIOS: My name is Israel Rios, I am from the small town of Garfield, Arkansas. I’ve always had a passion for art and design. I worked as an esthetician for many years, but found no fulfillment in that career path. I’ve always had a desire/need to create and learn. Fashion design not only satiates that void, but gives me the opportunity to meet and engage with like minded people. I’m eager and willing to learn, and cannot wait to see where this new chapter in my life will take me!
MOLLY FRALICK: I was born in Tampa Florida but raised in Eastern North Carolina where I call home. My interest in fashion started at a young age from when my Mother Linda Fralick worked in a sewing hall. Upon graduating High School I obtained an Associate in Arts; Transfer from Craven Community College in New Bern, North Carolina. After receiving my associates degree a year later I joined the United States Army as a Military Police officer. After serving my time to our country I went back to school to pursue my dreams in the Fashion Industry. I stayed in Missouri and found my degree program at Missouri State University. To pursue a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising. I am looking to pursue a career in Product Development and or Fashion Design. My end goal would be to have my own business thriving with my own Apparel Label and Clothing line. Along with many other avenues and facets in the Fashion industry.
TERRY TAKAMARU: I was born in the Marshall Islands and raised most of my life in the states. A proud mother of two gorgeous girls and is the 9th child out of 11 children. Love spending quality time with families and loved ones. As a child, I’ve always dreamed of an opportunity that would allow me to collaborate colors, textures and designs into one piece.

THE MENTORS

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BASANA CHHETRI: 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.
CEDRIC FONVILLE: Cedric Fonville was born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His professional career began in 2006 when he joined the Navy upon graduating from Star City High School. After six years, he left the military to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and to obtain a degree in Finance and Business Management from the University of Arkansas in 2012. He began working at INTERFORM in the summer of 2021. Outside of his role, Cedric also runs a small business called NICE, LLC. His interests include investing, personal and professional development, traveling, sports, and entrepreneurship.
MICHELLE FINAMORE: Michelle Tolini Finamore is a Fashion and Design Historian and is curating the forthcoming exhibition Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour which opens at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in September of 2022. As the Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston she curated Gender Bending Fashion, #techstyle, Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen, Think Pink and Jewelry by Artists. Exhibitions at other institutions include Cocktail Culture at the Norton Museum of Art and research for Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While in New York City, she was also a fashion specialist at Sotheby’s auction house where she helped organize themed sales of vintage fashion. She has written numerous books and articles for both the scholarly and popular press on topics as varied as fashion in silent film, menswear, contemporary fashion, sustainability, studio jewelry, and food history. Hollywood Before Glamour (Palgrave, 2013) was the first book to explore fashion in American silent film. Other publications include Gaetano Savini: The Man Who Was Brioni (Assouline, 2015) and Jewelry by Artists: In the Studio, 1940-2000 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2010) and articles for European Drama and Performance Studies, Modern Magazine, Fashion Theory, Architecture Boston, and Gastronomica. She has lectured at venues in Europe and America and has taught courses on fashion/design/film history at the Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts College of Art, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Michelle holds a Ph.D. from Bard College and an M.A. from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
RICHARD COTTO: 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.
RINAT BRODACH: Rinat dreamed of becoming a fashion designer as a child, following in the footsteps of her great grandfather - a tailor in Eastern Europe in the 1930s. After attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and The Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, she started her own label to pursue her vision. RINAT BRODACH was established in 2014 in New York City, drawing inspiration from the city’s thriving underground club scene. Rinat loved the energy and inclusion she found there, and wanted to create garments that empowered others to feel the same. In 2020, her fresh take on gender-free streetwear won her a place on Amazon Prime’s “Making the Cut,” a fashion design competition reality show. Her star turn in the series’ first season resulted in a successful run in stores, a Puma collaboration, and new global visibility.
ZACH RIDENOURE: 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.
ROCHELLE BAILEY: 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.
GUS HARRIS: My purpose is to make people dress and feel their best. My work is joyful, optimistic, positive, upbeat and has color. My design handwriting is always rooted in something authentic, can be a bit eclectic and still feel very individual. I take creative liberties with the 'rules' and am inspired by cross contextualizing everyday things. Taking something very banal, the expected and making it interesting. Or, taking something too precious, or too serious and making it fun, making it undone. A nimble, entrepreneurial, creative leader with 7+ years of experience in men's lifestyle brand development, providing creative leadership, vision, and inspiration for the design team. Experienced in leading both small and large teams, strong fabric & technical knowledge with an ability to strategize seasonal business needs whilst providing inspiration and direction. Able to visualize brand direction and translate into product and content across multiple categories and channels. An ardent proponent of embracing various retail cultures, known for ability to bring structure, discipline and efficiency to the product development process, even in the most challenging environment while consistently driving revenue and profit gains.
VALERIA MELIADÓ: Valeria Meliadò is the founder of the community Talk-Act.org, which aims to share tips on how to live a less impactful life; she has been working in the fashion industry for over ten years. After running her own sustainable fashion label, Valeria worked as a Senior Sustainability Material Researcher and Developer for Vivienne Westwood and she is currently a Material Researcher & Sustainability Specialist for Gucci. Valeria is also a lecturer of Sustainable Design Strategies at Polimoda University in Florence.
MARIANNA FIORETTI PIEMONTE: Marianna Fioretti is an art historian and critic and theorist of contemporary design. Born in Italy she studied archeology and art history at the University of Naples and specialized in art history and criticism at the University of Milan. She teaches Fashion Critique and Sociology of Imaginary at Polimoda in Florence and conducts seminars and workshops in other university institutes. Thanks to her experience in Milan as a cultural mediator at the Milan Triennale where she collaborated on the installation of the 2019 edition of Broken Nature with Paola Antonelli senior curator of the design department of the MoMA in New York and as head of department of cultural mediation in ADI museum dedicated to the history of the Italian first prize compasso d'oro which recognizes the merits of the study and innovation of international design she specialized in contemporary design and her studies and theories are known thanks to the ArtsLife art magazine. Important for the specialization was the master's thesis based on Rapid Response Collecting a strategy for expanding contemporary collections within museums which consists in integrating contemporary design objects that have historical value because they determine contemporary history such as the Les Nudes project by Christian Louboutin hosted at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She works as a translator and content creator with Desigual company in Barcelona where she is based.Her lessons are open to debate and to questioning the critical vision of design in the contemporary context by analyzing how social movements are born and how they influence our life and behavior.