A rowdy audience clapped and shouted as models walked down the makeshift catwalk at Orr Street Studios on Sunday. The models wore clothes designed by local artists as part of the studio’s effort to bring black creators together.
The Resource Connection Expo focused on black fashion, but also featured companies that serve the community, including Women’s Network, The Dream Tree Academy, and Victory Finances LLC, among others.
Dawn Warren, Executive Director of Orr Street Studios, has been preparing this event since she took over the position in July 2022.
“Black history is very important, but we are making history now,” she said. “Today’s event is like the culmination of the whole month.”
Vendors were allowed to set up a table at the event for free. For Warren, it was a way of “giving back to the color community.”
Warren made connections with many retailers, going out into the community and making connections with black artists and Orr Street residents.
“Many of these companies I didn’t even know existed,” Warren said. “We are surrounded by art. Everything is largely driven by creative people, but they are often so behind the scenes you don’t realize it.”
An important aspect of the event was also networking between companies. Vendors handed out business cards to attendees and other vendors while people mingled with drinks, food and music. Some creators such as Jadi Davis and Breosha Williams have also been briefed on other local artists.
“I like being around people who create because they push me. I was pushed out of my comfort zone during this event,” said Davis. This is my first time wearing something I’ve made.”
Davis and Williams designed the pieces that were featured on the show, with Davis’ work for Jadi’s Fiber Creations focusing on knits and crochet and Williams’ work for Altered Perceptionz consisting of edgy, custom designs.
Whitney Rajaonarivelo walked during the show. It was her first contact with modeling.
“The energy in the room was through the roof,” she said. “This is a chance for the black community to speak out and show their talent and show who they really are and what they are. We need to see some beauty in this world from time to time.”