Lip Lab by Bite @MOA – Bloomington, MN

Lip Lab by Bite @MOA – Bloomington, MN

 We went inside the new experiential and customizable lipstick bar now open at MOA.

 

Target and Levi’s Partner on Limited-Edition Collection – Minneapolis, MN

Target and Levi’s Partner on Limited-Edition Collection – Minneapolis, MN

The two brands will expand on their ongoing partnership and launch a new line of home and lifestyle products.

Q&A: Samantha Rei Is Designing Change – The Importance of Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Q&A: Samantha Rei Is Designing Change – The Importance of Supporting Black-Owned Businesses

Samantha strives to help women feel confident, strong and comfortable in their own skin. She believes they can all be beautiful warriors!

 

Samantha R. Crossland began her design career with her label “Blasphemina’s Closet” in 2000. After closing “Blasphemina’s Closet” in September of 2013, she started anew with her new eponymous label “Samantha Rei”. “Samantha Rei” embodies the sweetness and femininity that has come to be expected from the designer.

Samantha Rei draws her inspiration from such illustrators as Chris Riddell, Brom, Tony DiTerlizzi, Brett Helquist and Mihara Mitsukazu as well as stories like Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. Her hero Alexander McQueen along with designers Vivienne Westwood, Hirooka Naoto, John Galliano, and Anna Sui have all influenced her style.

In 1998, Samantha began attending the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, Minnesota, choosing to hone her skills as an illustrator and painter so she could pursue comic book art. After graduating in 1999, she spent some time at the College of Visual Arts (CoVA) in Saint Paul to major in illustration before continuing her education at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College for Apparel Technologies. She’s been featured in Huffington Post, Shojo Beat, the American Gothic and Lolita Bible, Gothic Beauty, Glamour UK and Vogue UK. Samantha was named one of 2014 City Pages “Artists of the Year” and 2016 Best of the Twin Cities “Best Fashion Show” and 2016 and 2017 Reader’s Choice “Best Local Fashion Designer.” In 2015 she authored and illustrated a how-to book on subculture fashion design called Steampunk and Cosplay Fashion Design and Illustration. Samantha was a contestant on season 16 of Lifetime’s Project Runway, the final season to appear on the station.

 

Q&A: Samantha Rei Is Designing Change

The former Project Runway contestant and fashion veteran on designing during a pandemic; the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses.

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For more see samantharei.com and @samanthareiofficial, or become a patron at patreon.com/samantharei.

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Protective Face Masks by Local Brands and Designers – Minneapolis

Protective Face Masks by Local Brands and Designers – Minneapolis

photo courtesy of Louise Gray

 

The Sisterhood of the Shops at Selby & Snelling – St.Paul, MN

The Sisterhood of the Shops at Selby & Snelling – St.Paul, MN

Fourteen lady bosses strike a pose on Selby Ave. The St. Paul intersection is home to more than two dozen businesses owned by women.

Each entrepreneur brings a unique philosophy to her work. For instance, Teeny Bee’s Kristie Case focuses on a curated assortment of kids’ wares. Jill Erickson, owner of Spoils of Wear, stocks her shelves with ethical and sustainable fashion brands. Kae Kozlowski operates Brow Chic, a salon for eyebrow shaping, makeup application, and eyelash extensions.  And the vintage game belongs to Kitty Van Hofwegen, of Everyday People; Hayley Bush of Lula Vintage Wear; and Megan McGuire of Up Six Vintage. Some could argue these three are the district’s grandes dames. “While vintage fits with my sustainability mission,” says Erickson, “I don’t focus on it because others in the ’hood do it better.”

Despite their different niches, the women are very supportive of one another. “You start a business, and it feels like you’re doing it all on your own,” says McGuire, “but you’re not.” She believes that when the neighboring businesses pool resources and send customers to each other’s stores, they are giving the shopper what they want: camaraderie.

The communication started at a series of meetings to discuss the new Whole Foods that opened on Selby Avenue in 2016 and the disruption from construction, the increase in traffic, a new apartment complex, and more. “We noticed the community really came together and talked to one another,” says Erickson. “A lot of important decisions had to be made and it became evident that we really needed each other.”

Case, who opened Teeny Bee six years ago, felt she was on her own island. But as more locally owned businesses have opened, hers has only benefitted.

Some of the women even play shopkeeper for each other. “It can be super lonely manning your business on quiet days,” says Erickson, who sometimes swaps spots with her next-door neighbor and close friend, Case, to work the Teeny Bee till. The two even operate a YouTube channel where they discuss the hardships of owning a retail store in this tough climate dominated by e-commerce.

Veterans also play big sister to the new kids on the block. “Everyone genuinely wants one another to succeed,” says Liberty Fontimayor, owner of fashion boutique Common Coast. Since opening her doors in November, her new neighbors have stopped by to share business stories, offer guidance, and continually check in. Fontimayor returns the favors and includes goods from the nearby stores in her Instagram stories. “I show my customers how they can pair a cool vintage tee with a new cardigan from my boutique.”

It’s obvious these women, like those in any thriving retail neighborhood, are much more than the sum of their parts. “We are creatives, event planners, mompreneurs, crime stoppers, and community builders,” says McGuire. “We’re examples for future female business owners.”

As escalating rent and taxes drive businesses off Grand Avenue, has this intersection become St. Paul’s new spot to #shopsmall? Only time will tell. But we need to play our part. We need the success stories like this to showcase the importance in supporting neighborhood businesses and the entrepreneurs who run them. A reminder to keep our dollars local and help ensure that storefronts remain vibrant, friendly shopkeepers stick around, and neighborhoods thrive.

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