Tag Archives: Miranda McDonald

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The New Blak

Story and Photos by Miranda McDonald

Two years ago, Sellersburg resident Amanda Dougherty founded The New Blak, a local, eco-friendly clothing brand, with the idea that fashion can not only be created locally with sustainable fabrics, but that it can also be used as a tool to support, encourage and empower women.

“I launched my business to help spark a fashion revolution,” she said.

Each piece of clothing is handmade in the company’s personal studio space at Oxmoor Mall in Louisville by a group of women that Dougherty affectionately calls her “girl gang. We provide a very different experience… . When a customer comes into the store, they have the opportunity to meet the fashion designer and company owner, and speak with the stylists. They are also introduced to the team of seamstresses,” she said. “We want to unveil the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be an automated manufacturing process. It is a personal experience between a seamstress and the cloth itself.”

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The Cost of ‘Fast Fashion’

Dougherty noticed that this personal experience and the connection customers have with the clothing they buy was completely lost when she worked in retail management for several years. She was so astounded by how quickly trendy clothing was being produced and the low price point that it was being sold at that she decided to research garment factories.

Daugherty soon realized workers in many of these establishments are exploited in order to produce poorly-made garments that are created with materials that are also harmful to the environment. In fact, she discovered that these materials are so harmful they contribute to making the fashion industry the second most damaging industry to the planet.

It was after this realization that Dougherty decided to make it her mission to help spread the word about the true cost of what’s known as “fast fashion,” and be one of the clothing brands that is striving to use eco-friendly materials.

“It can take polyester up to 200 years to break down in the environment. With the rate that we buy, throwaway and repeat, we will eventually be completely over-crowded by fast-fashion waste,” Dougherty said.

So, the designer decided to use bamboo when constructing each of the garments for The New Blak. The material is anti-microbial, helps regulate body heat and has a four-way stretch that makes each piece extremely comfortable to wear.

Start Small, Think Big

Although Dougherty is part of a global initiative that is working to eradicate fast fashion, she understands the impact starting on a local level can truly have. She plans to collaborate with local manufacturers and expand her business concept over the next several years.

“We know this cannot happen overnight. Opening the shop in Oxmoor Mall was just the first step in the fashion revolution. We hope to eventually collaborate with other companies, and build up Louisville and Southern Indiana as a self-sustaining fashion hub.”

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Models:
Hali Meeks

Kaelin Shay

Heather Rous Weeks

Amanda Haas

Krista Prak

Shelby Thomas

Tees and dresses created by The New Blak
Jewelry provided by Bloomed Roots, Oak
and Olive Jewelry, Darling Handmades and
Wood If I Could, all of which is available at
The New Blak

The New Blak
7900 Shelbyville Road inside Oxmoor Mall

Louisville

502.309.9363

www.thenewblak.com

shopthenewblak@gmail.com

@shopthenewblak on
Facebook & Instagram

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KMAC Couture: When Art Walks the Runway

Photo by Gary Barragan courtesy of KMAC

By Miranda McDonald

Dedicated to exploring the meaning of art through fashion, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft will present its fifth annual KMAC Couture: Art Walks the Runway on April 15.

Since its inception in 2013, KMAC Couture is a fashion presentation dedicated to showcasing handcrafted, wearable art from emerging and established regional artists that include costumers, milliners and designers. Every year, there is a unique theme for the event. This year, KMAC artists will explore the idea of color and how it has been utilized throughout history to connect people.

According to KMAC’s website, “Color theory connects us to centuries of creative expression seen by artists using vivid colors as texture and narrative, like Sam Gilliam, Helen Frankenthaler and Dan Flavin, or artists who use lack of color as texture, like Eva Hesse or designer Alexander Wang. Color can be a symbol of beauty and power, as well as a political tool used to divide and isolate. This year, KMAC Couture artists will challenge the vast spectrum of color as a subject matter by adding layers of creative interpretation that evoke emotion.”

Through the creation of handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that are composed of unconventional materials, local artists like Gunnar Deathrage (former contestant on Project Runway) will explore the distinctive relationship between art and fashion for KMAC Couture. The unconventional materials that are used range from human hair to candle wax, and even match sticks.

The event will take place under a tent outside of KMAC Museum. Proceeds from the show support educational and exhibition programming for the museum throughout the year. To find out more and purchase tickets, click here.

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All Tied Up

Story and Photos by Miranda McDonald

Starting and maintaining a small business is always a challenge. However, what if you needed to factor in homework, extracurricular activities and the usual social angst that comes along with being a teenager? Meet Ethan Thomas: a 15-year-old entrepreneur who recently launched his first company, All Tied Up, and is proving that success doesn’t have to come after a certain age.

tie3Even as a young child, Ethan had a deep appreciation for fashion. His eye for mixing fabrics and knack for building interesting outfits is something the young business owner has always prided himself on.

Wanting to add some panache to his wardrobe, Ethan bought his first pre-tied bowtie and instantly fell in love with the accessory. “I got to a point where I wore a different bow tie to school every day for a full year,” he explained.

However, as a young fashion enthusiast with limited income, his affection for the accessory became costly. So out of necessity, he decided to start making his own. “Eventually, people started telling me how much they really loved my bow ties and that I should sell them,” said Ethan. That is when he decided to setup his first booth at a local craft show last year. “I did a lot better than I was expecting, so things just kind of evolved into something much bigger from there.”

Now, Ethan regularly sets up booths at craft fairs and art-related shows – like the Flea Off Market – and fields orders for custom creations from those who hear about his company through social media or by word of mouth. This year, he is even expanding his line of products to include skinny ties, pocket squares and cufflinks that will all be made by hand.

However, even with this expansion of products, Ethan is still determined to stay tie2true to his mission of creating accessories that are handcrafted from interesting materials. Many of his fabrics are sourced from local shops, but some are so unique that they date back as far as 70 years in age. He attributes the acquisition of these one-of-a-kind fabrics to a family friend named Mary Norris.

Ethan met Norris when his first sewing machine broke down. Her husband, Bill Norris, not only gifted Ethan with a high quality sewing machine from the1940s, but he also became a mentor to the young business owner. Because of this relationship, Ethan regularly pulls from Mary’s carefully-curated collection of fabrics. He was even able to acquire a fabric which features a colorful Van Gogh print he used to construct his favorite bow tie.

Choosing the right fabric is just a first step in the process of making a bow tie though. “After I choose the fabric, I cut out the pattern. Then I sew it, flip it and iron it out,” explained Thomas.

However, the process doesn’t stop there either. Thomas also handles the marketing of each of his custom pieces. His passion for selling at such an early age is extremely rare, but it is what has allowed Thomas to successfully grow his business in such a short amount of time. His motto? Everyone should “give a bow tie a try once.”

All Tied Up by Ethan Thomas

Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/ATUbowties

Instagram: @alltiedup_bowties

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alltiedupbowties

ethanthomas2001@gmail.com

*Please message Ethan Thomas directly for orders and details.