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Fabric: Fashion for Everyone

Fashion is more than what we wear. It reflects who we are by making a silent statement to everyone we meet. But fashion doesn’t just happen. Whether your style is black tees and frayed jeans or a one-of-a-kind find from a boutique or thrift store, there was a long journey from the hands that made [...]
J.R. McMillan



Fashion is more than what we wear. It reflects who we are by making a silent statement to everyone we meet.

But fashion doesn’t just happen. Whether your style is black tees and frayed jeans or a one-of-a-kind find from a boutique or thrift store, there was a long journey from the hands that made them to back of your closet or the bottom of your laundry bin. FABRIC wants to make that journey a little less daunting, from creators to consumers. What started as an ambitious experiment above the Idea Foundry is slated to evolve into a dedicated destination with shared workspace, a retail outlet, and an event venue for the multi-disciplinary demands of the city’s sometimes scattered fashion industry.

We went straight to the source for second act details of this novel co-working initiative from Amee Bellwanzo, Cofounder and Business Director for Alternative Fashion Mob, and FABRIC.

What was the inspiration for FABRIC? How did it come to be?

Alternative Fashion Mob came together in 2012 with the goal of giving a platform to independent local designers of all styles, in part by creating an ‘underground movement’ with Columbus’ style-savvy public to generate excitement for the local fashion industry in our city. Our goal has always been fostering local designers as small business people. The more we work with our designers, the more we’ve seen there are a lot of resources they need to really succeed as small businesses, and thereby really create an industry of independent fashion labels in Columbus—where there are currently a few big brands, and a lot of independent designers who are making clothing on a very small scale.

What did you learn from your experience at Idea Foundry? How did it change or refine your concept for FABRIC?

It was kind of our proof of concept. Our classes sold out, we had more requests than anticipated for photo studio rentals and other resources. The public came to events we held there—even though the location wasn’t the easiest. We kind of figured, if so many people are willing to navigate through the Foundry to join us in this old warehouse, there must really be a need for what we’re doing.

How is FABRIC similar and unique from other co-working concepts in Columbus?

FABRIC, as a co-working space, is focused on fashion designers and related industry pros, such as stylists and photographers. So that’s one point of differentiation from other local co-working spaces. It will also have a storefront where the public can purchase those designers’ clothes. While there are a few stores in town where you can purchase all kinds of locally made goods, from t-shirts to crafts to salsa, there are no stores that specialize in fashion. We’ll also have a designer-worthy selection of fabric and other raw materials used to create fashion. This will be a resource for designers, but will also be great for the hobbyist-level designers and sewers, who currently have only one or two big-box fabric stores that have more of a crafter market than a true fashion-forward ideal. We’ll have a photo studio—which fashion designers and other people can use or rent for fashion shoots, product catalogs, and creative projects.

What element of FABRIC will surprise people most?

Our space will be open to the public for fashion-related classes—for all levels, including professional designers to hobbyists and beginners—and all topics in the fashion industry including fashion photography, modeling, hair and makeup artistry, etc. We’ll also have an event space, which will be used for general purposes, including rental—but there will also be set times that the space is used for fashion events. It will come ready with a rollaway runway, so we hope it’s a great resource for all the fashion organizations in town. Essentially, FABRIC Columbus will be a true community center for creative activity and inspiration, where professionals and the general public can come together to be inspired and excited by local fashion.”

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Penzone shares: what to expect with salons

Julian Foglietti



With the closing of Hair Salons on March 18th, buzz cuts and bowl cuts have made an appearance on the heads of Ohioans, young and old. Luckily for those desperate for a do, Dewine has announced that hair salons may begin to reopen on May 15th. To guide us through the transition, I spoke with Debbie Penzone, President and CEO of Penzone Salons, about serving on the Governor's salon advisory board, dealing with the business effect of the virus, and what we can expect from hair salons moving forward. 

I understand that you served as the chair of the Governor's committee board regarding reopening salons. What did you do in that role? 

On the committee, my role was pulling from my experience as a cosmetologist and business owner to assemble a group of individuals that represent our business in Ohio. We had everyone from 10 person salons to one person barbershops. braiding salons and nail salons, to schools and three health commissioners. From there, the job was building an agenda and listening to members while consulting health professionals on how to expand upon existing sanitation guidelines.  The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology has been enforcing for years. Beyond that, it was a lot of keeping time, guiding the conversations, gathering information and reporting it.  We also wanted to build plans if something did happen in a salon, and make sure that everyone could abide by these practices so we can remain safe and open.

In what ways has the virus caused you to rethink the way salons will function moving forward?

One of the things we did was go through a COVID specific certification process with Barbicide, which produces a lot of the sanitation products already used in salons and barber shops. A lot of people don’t realize that in the Ohio Administrative Code, there are very specific sanitation guidelines that you have to follow when you get your license, and there is a major component of constantly learning new sanitation practices all the time. The main difference you’ll see is us taking that sanitation to the next level: social distancing between booths, or barriers put in place, as well as reduced capacities in many salons. There will be more emphasis on reducing contact points and sanitizing things like doorknobs and counters as well. The biggest change will be the way we interact with our clients. We're a very emotional industry. We’re huggers, and we’re very close with the people we work with. Our clients are like family to us, so having to distance ourselves and not engage in that way will be different. 

What has been the greatest challenge to overcome over the past months? 

It’s really been adapting to the constant change we're all facing. We might spend all this energy sharing with our team new knowledge, but the next week it will change again. It’s been difficult to coordinate and continue to train everyone and update them with the new practices, as well as provide support for them while we're all distanced from each other. We're all scared right now, and it’s important to not lose our community so we can give each other confidence in the direction we’re heading in.

What have you witnessed over the past few months that gave you hope?

The biggest hope for me was serving on this committee. I’ve always felt so strong about our industry, so bringing so many people together and supporting one another during this difficult time. This whole thing has really brought us together as an industry, and shown that we can work together to support each other and raise each other up. There's enough clients for everybody, and it’s beautiful to see the incredible diversity of salons and see us all coming together to work with one another.

Are you worried about customers returning?

We’ve opened our booking today, but were not opening on the 15th, because we want to have a few days to go over the new procedures with our teams before we start to bring clients in. Every salon will only be operating at 50% capacity, and then we’re extending the hours to make sure everyone has the same hours they used to, and some of them are already booked out to July.

What would you say to ease the concerns of customers?

Really that we’re regulated by the state board and have so many sanitation practices in place. We have printouts posted showing the guidelines for clients that come to the stores, and for those who are high-risk, we are opening up early so they can be the first people to come in right after the salon is sanitized. What's important to remember about salons is that the regulators randomly check our spaces to make sure we're complying, and as we build on regulations, these checks are going to be taken to the next level. 

As a hairstylist, do you see any hairstyle trends emerging from this?

I definitely think there's gonna be a boom for bobs and pixie cuts, ‘cause people are just done. Maybe some bold colors, because everyone just wants to come out and say, “I’m back, baby.” Maybe just a little more attitude with the cuts people are getting.

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Mask on: Local businesses offering fashionable, functional face masks

Mike Thomas



Since their debut last week, our stylish face masks (made with care by an enterprising mother/daughter duo in Lewis Center) have been flying off the digital shelves in our online store. Since 100% of the sales of these masks benefits Service!, a relief effort working to eliminate hunger among restaurant industry workers and families, your purchases have made a real difference while doing your part to maintain personal and public health. [EDIT: As of April 28, we're all sold out of masks. So far, 614NOW readers have raised $2,080 for Service!]

As we prepare for the reopening of some public spaces next month, face masks are sure to remain a common sight. It comes as no surprise that some of Columbus' top brands have joined the mask game, providing their own lines of stylish and functional PPE for this strange new age we're all living in.

Homage, the city's homegrown fashion leader, has repurposed the famously soft materials used to produce its t-shirts into a nifty 3-layer mask, available for purchase on its online store.

Retailing at $9.00/per individual mask, 3 masks for for $24, or 5 for $35, one dollar from every Homage mask purchased will go to

Likewise, Columbus-based retailer Where I'm From has produced their own line of cloth masks. Comfortable, machine-washable, and 100% made in the USA, Where I'm From's masks are made of a tri-blend material. Check these out in a variety of colors at the company's online store.

Not to be outdone, Seventh Son Brewing has partnered with Positive Negative Press on their own line of functional branded masks. These masks, available in three attractive styles, are provided as a free gift to anyone who places a delivery order with Seventh Son this week (while supplies last).

Heard of any other good masks you think we should know about? Whether they're supporting a cause, or just in it for the #fashion, give your favorite purveyors of face-worn couture a shout out in the comments.

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Columbus native to appear on premiere of ‘Making the Cut’




Series debuts tonight, March 27 on Amazon Prime

Kent State School of Fashion alumni, Joshua Hupper and Will Riddle, will both be featured contestants on the new series hosted and produced by fashion gurus, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Hupper, a 2004 alumnus, and Riddle, a 2013 alumnus, both majored in fashion design and have had significant roles in the industry since graduating. They were two of just 12 contestants from all over the globe to be featured on the 10-episode series.

Since graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, Hupper resides in Shanghai, China, where he founded the brand BABYGHOST, a successful e-commerce fashion brand based in China. His designs have been featured in Vogue and on runways around the world. His line features youthful, feminine ready-to-wear fashions for the “mischievous girl.” Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hupper’s talents were shaped by his artistic upbringing and his past experiences in internships with Diane Von Furstenburg and Thakoon.

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