Ronnie's Awesome List is proud to present a guest post by Grace Kraaijvanger, Founder of The Hivery. Grace interviews Western Bonime, founder of Marin Fashion Academy, as they prepare for their first collaborative teen program “Fashion Inspiration Workshop” for girls at The Hivery on June 20th through June 24th.
Grace: The Hivery is thrilled to have teen girls in our women's co-working space as a window for young women of what is possible for them. We have women at The Hivery that are in all stages of creating and pursuing their what's next. We have writers, financial analysts, designers, tech gurus, and women who are making big career changes. We want to remind girls that their path and potential is limitless….how do we carry this message as a strong thread from the Hivery space through to Fashion Camp?
Western: Fashion is so very closely tied to how we feel about ourselves and how we communicate who we are. Fashion is so much more than clothes, it’s a language. By teaching women the language of fashion, such as, why colors make us feel certain ways, why the touch of fabric is important, the ways in which shapes and silhouettes communicate personality and attitude, we allow young women to voice who they are through the ways that they dress. We give them the power to be heard when they want to be heard and how they want to be heard and where. That’s power.
Grace: What metaphors about creativity, self-esteem, self-expression, and inspiration can young women apply from fashion into their lives and futures?
Western: Live beautifully…every day you feel good, you look good. Be unique. Dress only to make yourself happy. Beauty is one of the most powerful forces on earth - if you dress to feel beautiful if you let your joy of self expression out through creativity, you will be powerful and unstoppable. Beauty transforms, feeds the soul, gives hope and brings people to life.
Grace: What will the young women at the Fashion Camp learn to do?
Western: Come up with a vision board of how they like to dress and how they would like to see themselves. Learn to respond to images that inspire them. Learn to translate those feelings and colors into design ideas. Learn to work with their hands to create designs that really epitomize who they are and that make them feel confident about themselves.
Grace: What kind of impact have you seen the creative process of making clothes have on young women?
Western: I’ve seen so much joy. Most of the girls who take my camps sign up for the next year and the next year. While they are at camp, they are one hundred percent immersed. They seem to totally forget about digital technology and they don’t get bored. And they absolutely LOVE to sew. The moment we get on the sewing machines is the moment when their energy just totally lights up. I’ve seen them filled with pride over their creations. I’ve seen them so full of the groundedness and contentment people feel when they make things with their hands. One of the things I’m most passionate about is freedom of creativity. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, there is only how much more awesome we can make it!
Grace: Why are you passionate about teaching young women about fashion and creative expression through design?
Western: One, I’m passionate about making things beautiful and everything I do is about bringing people’s ideas to life by helping them see possibility. That’s when the magic happens. I’m passionate about empowerment, particularly for young girls because I had to grow up fast and overcome so many obstacles. It’s made me feel so deeply about helping other young women. And I’m passionate about teaching young women how to be creative through fashion because fashion encompasses everything - personality, creativity, passion, fun, connection, self-esteem. It’s based in the practical, so it’s the perfect way to teach girls how to be creative in ways that will help them in the real world. Creative thinking is vitally important in all areas of life including other subjects. Patterns use math, fabrics use chemistry, draping uses engineering, and we use technology in every aspect of production and in this digital age it is more important than ever to work with our hands. Their is a self-knowledge that comes from working with the tangible that is so important for emotional balance and well-being.
Grace: Is this your calling? How did you learn that this was what you loved to do? What is it about teen girls that you find inspiring?
Western: Fashion is definitely my calling. I first fell in love with clothes when I was 2 and my grandmother sent me outfits. I forgot for awhile because I had so many interests in high school but in college I designed costumes and remembered. I’m inspired to help teen girls because I remember being one. I remember how bright and brilliant and full of light and hope I was. I also remember how many things I struggled with like popularity and my looks. I don’t want other teen girls to have to go through that. I feel that there still isn’t enough support for girls to teach them how to be young women who feel great about their looks. I feel that with all the emphasis on math and science in schools we have lost sight of how powerful a tool it is to be able to creatively problem solve. Fashion teaches this because it teaches people to see connections. They say doing what you love is everything. For me, teaching girls to understand their choices, to think creatively, to feel beautiful about themselves, that is everything for me, it’s what lights me up inside.
“Fashion Inspiration Workshop” for girls at The Hivery is on June 20th through June 24th - registration is now open but limited. Find out more about the world of fashion and get inspired to feel beautiful for Summer by creating your very own dress or outfit. 5 day fashion inspiration workshop will teach you how designers come up with inspiration season after season, what careers are possible in fashion, and how to sew.
- Learn how to use a sewing machine
- Make an outfit or two for the Summer
- Learn more about the exciting world of being a fashion designer
- Includes a field trip to J'Amy Tarr's studio (a local and fantastic designer)