by Juleana Enright
Celebrating its fourth year of highlighting and uniting the talented visionaries of Minneapolis, I AM MPLS! returns this Thursday to downtown’s Aria MPLS for another multi-faceted, locally-grown event. Conceived by TC stylist and event producer, Sarah Edwards, each year the fashion/variety show choses a group of heavily ambitious, vibrant and creative MPLS-based individuals from all across the local culture board for a showcase that integrates comedy, music, fashion and art. And for a real treat, instead of using professional models, the event puts the I AM MPLS! creatives on the catwalk to strut their stuff in looks from local boutiques B. Resale, Atmosfere, Martinpatrick3, Motto, Cliché, LEN and designs by Emma Berg styled by I AM MPLS! Fashion Director, Davee Ek.
This year’s edition features comedy from Jenn Schaal and Maggie Faris, musical performances by MPLS soul staple, Hookers $ Blow and experimental art rockers, bollywood, is emceed by 89.3 The Current’s Dave Campbell and the proceeds will go towards benefitting I AM Kindness, a volunteer-based organization that performs random acts of kindness throughout the city, sparking inspiration and promoting goodwill. I AM MPLS! attendees will also receive a ticket to get a free mimosa with a purchase of brunch on Saturday & Sunday after the show to redeem at the Red Stag or Barbette.
In this week’s The Culturator, I AM MPLS! founder, Sarah Edwards chats about what Thursday’s event will entail, lists her “top ten” reasons you should be excited for I AM MPLS!, plus gives a few shout-outs to local boutiques she dubs “soulful” fashion spots.
I AM MPLS! Vimeo video sneak peek:
l’étoile: Though you’re not a Minneapolis native, you’re quite the advocate for this city. What is it about Minneapolis that you find so creatively inspiring?
Edwards: I’m actually from Grand Rapids, MN. Which is a small town in the iron range. I think this city is so full of creative entrepreneurs, humble personalities and a supportive community that it equals out to something really special. I love how it seems so big but yet so small. The amount of collaborations and forward thinking make me think that anything – if it’s a fairly good idea – is possible.
l’étoile: How would you describe the I AM MPLS! event for a new initiate? What takes place? What’s the atmosphere like?
Edwards: I AM MPLS! has something for everyone. A lot of the fashion folks that attend just like to see what everyone is wearing at the event. Part of my favorite thing about the show is seeing everyone’s outfits too! I’ve always been a stand-up comedy fan and I think we have such a talented group of comedians in Minneapolis. There is such an eclectic mix of musicians, fashionistas, artists, creative professionals, entrepreneurs that it’s great to see people out mingling and learning what’s going on at the pulse of Minneapolis.
This is the first year that I AM MPLS! is going to have food and so that is huge! The lovely folks at Barbette & Red Stag have stepped in to make a really delicious menu and have helped to make the event a zero waste event. I really couldn’t have done it without them and they are such great people with an impressive amount of support they put into the local community. It’s funny because they heard of I AM Kindness and I AM MPLS! and just asked what they can do to help.
l’étoile: You founded this event in part as a local social experiment, curious as to what would happen if talented locals from different genres were in the same room at the same time. So, what did happen?
Edwards: There have been a ton of new relationships and collaborations formed. Whether it be a filmmaker and a brand manager discovering a way to work together; a yoga teacher getting new students; or an assistant/volunteer getting a job in the creative industry. The event is all about connecting and helping people find a community to support their passion. This is going to sound weird but since I can remember I’ve always envisioned my creative career as a treehouse full of drawers. Once I open one and discover what’s inside I can use it as a stepping stone to the next one.
l’étoile: In the past, the line-ups have included Christopher Straub, Tom Horgen, Hollie Mae, Adam Levy and A. Wolf and Her Claws. This year’s roster is equally as eclectic and vibrant. How do you choose who to feature?
Edwards: It’s kind of all over the place. Sometimes it’s people I read about in local media, or it could be a recommendation from a past participant, and sometimes just someone I know that is working their ass off to chase their dream. Either way it’s a mix of people that understand what I’m trying to do with I AM MPLS! and have an appreciation for it.
l’étoile: Why did you decide to have the I AM MPLS’ spotlights double as the show’s models instead of going a more traditional route using professional models? How do the participants feel about being thrown into this unfamiliar role?
Edwards: I have a huge appreciation for traditional runway models but I think there is a sense of whimsy and irony when choosing to do it this way. Sometimes when I’m pitching it to people in the event their reaction is to laugh and then say, ‘I’m not a model’. But I think it makes the event more fun and entertaining to see your favorite tattoo artist or your favorite mixologist working their stuff on the catwalk.
MPLStyle recently published an article dubbed “10 Reasons to Get Excited for I AM MPLS” and, of course, one of them was the astounding array of local boutiques the event highlights. As a stylist, which local shops are your go-to staples both to pull from and for your own personal style?
Well, this is going to be hard because I don’t want to leave anyone out as I definitely make my rounds. I actually work (very, very part time) at Arrow. I remember never really experiencing a shop in Minneapolis that offers what they do. They offer the coolness and quality focused brands that are equally unique and inspired. I’m also a digger/collector when it comes to my personal style. I love mixing and matching with colors, textures, themes, labels and history. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the word “trend.” I’ve always been adamant that good fashion is more about soul and less about learning how to make something work in your wardrobe that isn’t a part of your personal style. I enjoy shopping at Rewind, June, Cliché, and recently discovered Motto! I’m actually wearing Emma Berg for I AM MPLS! (who sells her work at Motto), as well as Stephanie Lake-designed jewelry.
What would be your top ten reasons to get people amped for I AM MPLS?
1. A portion of the proceeds will go to I AM Kindness. I AM Kindness is a “no-strings-attached” volunteer organization I started. I stay pretty busy and wanted to find a way to volunteer in the community. Every organization I looked to join had a really demanding schedule or time commitment. I thought to myself, ‘I bet there are tons of crazy busy creative professionals that want to give back but can’t commit.’ So I created I AM Kindness where people can volunteer with the group when you have time and don’t stress or feel bad when you can’t. We are going to grow a lot in 2014! We’ve had a lot of great outings but one of my personal favorites is when we go into senior homes and spend an afternoon pampering them with hairstyling, makeup, manicures and then style them in bedazzled jackets and accessories and take their photos. Here’s a video from one of our outings:
2. Hilarious comedy by Maggie Faris and Jenn Schaal.
3. The badass photo booth done by Rat Race Studios.
4. Tasty treats from Barbette.
5. It’s hosted by Dave Campbell of 89.3 The Current and he is always entertaining.
6. Experiencing local fashion on local talent.
7. Great opportunity to network with press, entrepreneurs and creatively tuned in folks.
8. Inspiration. My I AM MPLS! event started as a “what if” idea in my head and has turned into this. It is an inspiration for someone on the edge of going for it. It would have been a lot easier to choose to not do this event. I’ve been living in this world of not trying to be a perfectionist but focus more on doing and less on over analyzing. I’m hoping my story will inspire others to chase what they truly believe in.
9. The diverse music. Hookers $ Blow is going to get you on your feet and bollywood provides a transient, hypnotic adventure. The DJ is Adam “Punchy” Puncochar and will be keeping the night energized and helping the models find some hop in their step while going down an unfamiliar runway.
10. Davee Ek. She is the fashion director and so innovative with her styling and ability to tell a story through fashion.
To learn more about this year’s participants, visit I AM MPLS!’s website HERE.
I AM MPLS is Thursday, December 12 at Aria Event Center, 105 N. 1st St., Minneapolis. Doors are 6 pm, with a 7 pm show start. General admission is $15 and $50 VIP (includes premium seating, eco-friendly canvas swag bag, screen-printed poster and round-trip rides from Uber cab. This is an 18+ event. For tickets, click HERE. Follow I AM MPLS! on Twitter HERE.