Michigan’s Annual Business of Fashion Education Never Disappoints

Beau Satchelle was honored to be asked to be a guest of the annual Michigan fashion conference, “Fashion Speak and Verge Trade Show & Market”, which showcases major players, usually with Michigan/Detroit ties, within the fashion industry who impact the fashion and retail industry. 

The conference was developed for students, professionals, and design entrepreneurs, either new or building their brand in Michigan, to spend a full day immersed in studying the business of fashion.   Without fail, this event was first-class through the hard work of the organizers and volunteers from the Detroit Garment Group (DGG), a 501(3)(c ) non-profit led by Karen Buscemi, the CEO of Pontiac, Michigan based company Detroit Sewn™, a full service cut and stitch manufacturing company.   

DGG has hosted this gathering of the finest talent and minds for seven years and has never disappointed with the speaking line-up (previous years’ speakers included couture red carpet designer Kavan Hall, costume designer Pheonix Mellow, and veteran fashion designer Tracy Reese to name a few).  In addition, the scheduled workshops provider insight and resources with regards to breaking into or progressing in the tough, competitive business of clothing and accessories. 

The conference gave entrepreneurs a platform to not only network with celebrated speakers and workshop facilitators, but this year, the location of the conference was moved to one of Michigan’s busiest destination shopping centers in Southeastern Michigan, Twelve Oaks Mall.   For an emerging retail business who may have a goal to scale to a brick and mortar, Twelve Oaks, located in Novi, Michigan (one of Metro Detroit’s more affluent cities), has maintained a high traffic presence by offering over 180 stores which include anchor department stores of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, H & M, and JC Penny’s; and is home to high end designer stores such as Michael Kors,  Kate Spade, Coach, The North Face, and Swarovski, to name a few. 

The Verge Trade Show & Market allowed a number of local clothing and accessories designers to lease vendor booths in the center of the Mall for exposure to conference attendees, along with regular mall patrons.   Cleverly, the conference designed one of the workshops to incorporate a tour of the 20-plus vendor booths with discussions on booth designs/set-ups for attendees considering showing their samples at trade shows to drum-up orders.             

An additional workshop also included a mall tour of various retail stores facilitated by the design team of Taubman Centers  (and a major sponsor) to expose attendees to the world of merchandising within a mall retail space.   The team explained the processes in assisting a new leasee with design features to compel patrons’ attention to enter a store; as well as, drafting a floor plan and building visuals to increase customers’ time spent browsing and purchasing.   The tour ended with the introduction of a co-op venture that allows budding, locally owned entrepreneurs to lease pop-up space in their “Emerge” Program for brand exposure and to sell their wares, particularly with the upcoming holiday season.    

Personally, for Beau Satchelle, the highlights of the day were the keynote speakers:  the jewelry designer Jolie Altman, and the couture gown designer, RC Caylan, who we spotlighted in a previous blog a few weeks ago. 

For jewelry aficionados, particularly of handcrafted high-end jewelry, Jolie Altman captures the essence of exceptionalism.  The artist, currently a resident of Birmingham, Michigan, developed an eye for unique materials and her talent organically develops custom pieces of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings representing Mother Earth’s natural glory.   Her inspiration comes from her world travels, her materials span from beads to semi-precious and precious gems.   Her ability to craft beautifully bespoke pieces has found its way onto the wrists and necks of celebrities and non-famous admirers alike.  Her jewelry has been worn by Oprah and Deepak Chopra and is stocked in high-end boutiques and retail stores all over North America, including Anthropologie, Fred Segal, and Bergdorf Goodman.

RC Caylan, spoke about carving your fashionprenurial path within the digital world, was refreshingly honest about how tough the industry can be and that designers not only have to develop a thick skin but continuously learn about every aspect of the ever-changing fashion industry to stay ahead.  I adore the fact that he knew from the age of nine that his calling was sewing beautiful clothes and was able to make his mark with intricate evening gowns by designing for pageant contestants in his native country of the Philippines.  He kept his eye on the prize even when he had to veer in another direction, becoming a premier cosmetologist, while putting himself through design school.  As RC Caylan continues to cross paths with Beau Satchelle, learning more about his journey and his future goals increases our admiration for what he has accomplished as a Midwestern designer who continues to take Hollywood by storm.  

Karen and her exceptional team deserve a standing ovation for creating a fabulous information forum and an opportunity to network among the group of participating entrepreneurs.    A special thank you to the Detroit Garment Group Board (especially lovely Lisa Benedict) for including us in the day’s events!   – AJ

Fashion Speak Flyer Credit:

Detroit Garment Group


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