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Q + A with artist Kathy Lloyd 

Kathy Lloyd is an Indiana-based artist who makes an unusual kind of art: denim collages. Using scraps of denim leftover from her hobby of repurposing clothes, Kathy began to make detailed collages of celebrities and landscapes alike. In addition to making and selling her art, she’s also a mom, works at a hospital, and is an art therapist. We originally met Kathy at a RAW art show, and met up with her again to talk more about her art.

JB: What is your background, and what made you want to be an artist?
KK: I have always been into art, every since I could hold a pencil. I have a degree in art, and I went to Marian University right here in town. My degree is actually in interior design but I had to take all the art classes anyway. After I graduated I found it kind of hard to get into the interior design field. So life happens, and I just kind of took jobs and the arts got pushed aside. Now in the last fifteen years, I decided to pick up a paintbrush again and get back into art. I’ve done several murals for different facilities, schools, and assisted living centers. And about a year ago I started repurposing clothes because I got tired of looking for things that were different, it was kind of for myself. I use a lot of denim in my upcycled clothing, and I found I had a lot of leftover denim I wasn’t using for my clothes. I started using that denim to make art, and that’s where I branched off into the collage work with the denim. I’ve always liked monochromatic stuff, so that’s been really fascinating to me.

JB: What’s it like being an artist in Indianapolis?
KK: I think it is an art centered place here. I just recently went to San Diego and saw a lot of galleries down there. Indianapolis is every bit as artsy if you want to call it that, I think. I’m only just beginning to discover what’s here. I think it’s exciting!

JB: What’s the process of making a new denim collage like?
KK: I’m pretty fast actually, and generally when I start working on a project I’m on it until it’s finished. I don’t drag it out for weeks because I don’t like that. I see if I can think of some kind of situation, or maybe a photo or a person that would be interesting and I start from there. It’s even hard for me to know where to start. I always just start in the background and move my way forward. And I sketch it out before I start laying the collage.

JB: I’ve noticed you’ve made a lot of portraits of people. What inspired this?
KK: When I’m thinking of something to make, I’m looking for a lot of shadow and a lot of variants in the color. Something that’s all just whites would not be as interesting. I have done a lot of people for this reason and because I think they’re interesting, but I’m getting ready to start a lot of landscape stuff. I’m interested in a lot of industrial and post-industrial old factories and things like that. I find that fascinating and I hope to make more pieces of art reflecting that.

JB: What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve made?
KK: I have a denim collage that I did of Ray Charles. I think that’s everybody’s favorite. It has so much character and personality and it just turned out so commercial, which is what I was kind of going for. And now that piece of art has been sold!

JB: What are your goals for the future?
Right now I work in a hospital. My goal is to not work in the hospital and be a full time artist. A couple nights a week I work doing art therapy for an autistic young man. He’s 17 and he’s non verbal. We do art and painting, and we’ve tried to build an art career for him. Working with him has shown me, too, that there are just so many possibilities to have a job involving art. My goal for him is to help him find some ways to make a living. I’ve been working with him for three and a half years and we’ve had several gallery shows and have done pretty well.

JB: What’s your advice to young artists?
KK: Just keep going forward. I had a huge break where I didn’t really do any art. But I have a lot of talent and I just decided I wasn’t going to put it aside anymore. I have two jobs, I drive an hour each way, and I have five kids at home. You just have to make time.

You can follow Kathy’s work on Facebook.

Launch Indy’s New Program for Entrepreneurs 

Indianapolis may not be the most bustling city in the world, but despite its size, it is full of creative, ambitious people with good ideas. We write about them all the time for PATTERN, and there are countless other local organizations dedicated to helping them thrive. One of those organizations is Launch Indy, a new coworking space in the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Launch Indy’s building, Union 525, is a place for entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate and be surrounded by like minded people. Launch Indy aims to be a home for new businesses and start-ups, and in turn promote economic development and “build a stronger city,” as they state on their website. But in addition to providing new business owners with a space, Launch Indy wants to pass on their knowledge. This thought is what inspired them to launch their new social enterprise accelerator program.

Katie Birge, the executive director of Launch Indy, described this program as providing mentorship and guidance to new or aspiring business owners who may not have a business background.

“This was born out of several people in the Launch Indy community of advisors and mentors coming together and discussing the need for mentorship and help along the way during development of a business,” Birge said. “One thing we’ve found in meeting with lots of different social entrepreneurs is that lots of them don’t really have a business background at all. And so, while they’re hoping to make an impact, they may not necessarily be starting off on the right foot because they don’t have a business background.”

She went on to explain that instead of scaring them away due to their lack of experience, Launch Indy wants to help people who may not have tons of business knowledge feel confident while advancing their business.

While Launch Indy’s coworking space has been geared towards people in the tech industry in the past, they are hoping all different kinds of entrepreneurs apply for this program. Specifically, those involved with social enterprises and social entrepreneurship. In the end, the accelerator program is for anyone who is planning on starting a business, or already has a business that they want to take to the next level.

“I’m not concerned if a company has been around for three years or three weeks, as long as they have a desire to move their business forward and they can commit to showing up every week for this,” Birge said.

The program is twelve weeks long, but is spread over fifteen weeks due to the holiday season. Members will meet every Wednesday night at the Launch Indy office at 525 South Meridian. The program costs $100 per company, which is quite reasonable compared to other accelerator programs. Launch Indy’s program is also primarily education-based, and doesn’t take equity in the companies who enroll or loan them money.

Birge said that most of the Wednesday-night meetings will be in the form of meetings with advisors or workshops.

“In general it’s going to be workshops with guest presenters and facilitators,” she said. “But some weeks will be focused on scheduling time to meet with representatives from local law firms to talk about what kind of business you should incorporate as, if there are any legal concerns for intellectual property or anything like that.”

Aside from the law representatives, the speakers for this accelerator program will be business professionals and mentors in Launch Indy’s network. They will be leading workshops on all topics related to starting a business– from customer discovery to marketing and branding to funding and finance.

The application for applying to Launch Indy’s social impact accelerator program can be found here. The application deadline is November 14, and the application should take ten minutes or less to fill out.

The accelerator program will run from December 5 through late February. It will culminate with a “pitch day” at the end of February.

On this day, “the public is invited and all of the companies in the program will present on their company. So it’s an opportunity for the public to see what everyone’s been working on and to hopefully get the word out about what these companies are doing, as well as hopefully networking with people who can take them beyond what we’re doing,” Birge said.

Despite the stereotypes, Birge maintains that Indianapolis is a great place for entrepreneurs and creatives. With programs like Launch Indy’s, Indianapolis’ entrepreneurship culture will only continue to grow.

Q + A With India Hicks 

When India Hicks’ feet hit the floor each morning, she moves with the same urgency as any working mother of five children. But Hicks is not any working mother. No indeed.

The former model and daughter of well-known interior designer David Hicks was born into British aristocracy. (She was a bridesmaid to Princess Diana at the royal wedding in 1981, and Prince Charles is her godfather.)

In 2015 Hicks became the creative director and founder of her own lifestyle brand, a direct sales company that sells handbags, home accessories and beauty products through thousands of brand ambassadors. Hicks visits Indianapolis on November 13 as part of a nine-city tour to promote her recently-released book, A Slice of England.

PATTERN connected with Hicks to talk about her namesake company and her message of empowerment, which strikes a timely chord, especially among women who want to run their own businesses.

Crystal Hammon: Your brand’s tagline is “Live an extraordinary life.” What does that look like for you?

India Hicks: Mine may not necessarily be an extraordinary life, but it’s certainly been unexpected. I live on a small island in the Bahamas where I have five children, and I have several interesting projects. I never imagined this would be the life I would live.

I love to use the word extraordinary because I think we can make every day extraordinary. We focus on that very much in our business, encouraging women to do things differently, to take a leap of faith, to believe in themselves. The extraordinary comes from that. You don’t necessarily need to move to an island in the Bahamas. You can have an extraordinary life wherever you are.

CH: Based on your experience with this startup, what skills do you think are most essential to starting and maintaining a business?

IH: When I started this, I wasn’t really aware of what my skills were. I believed in my story. I thought it was an interesting story with several chapters to it, having come from England to a runaway island, and it blended well to form the basis of a lifestyle brand. I knew I had determination, energy and passion. I hadn’t really realized the skill set that one needs for this, which is a lot of grit.

I think the greatest skill is recognizing where you can excel and where you can’t. I did recognize very quickly that I should not be the person managing the back end and the finances. I should be on the creative side. I knew I needed partners who did know about those things. As an entrepreneur, I would say that it’s important to recognize what you are good at. Find others who can do the bit that you’re not capable of doing.

Having said that, I do think you need to be overseeing, involved and aware of every aspect of your business. Even if I don’t completely understand the margins and the financial numbers, I’m in on those conversations, so I’m learning as I go. If we’ve had a big financial meeting, I ask someone to give me the bullet points from that, just so I know where my business stands.

Of course, I’ve had this incredibly blessed and lucky life, and I come from a very remarkable background, but sometimes, that actually worked against me. People didn’t take me seriously, or they imagined that because I had been born under such a lucky star, there was no need for me, that I might not work as hard as I said I would.

CH: You’re very explicit that your brand is about women’s empowerment. What kind of training does an India Hicks ambassador get that cultivates the skills necessary to be successful?

IH: We like to set everyone up with a jumpstart into success. We have a lot of tools and training that our ambassadors are able to access and take themselves through. We’re very aware that our women are incredibly busy, packing lunches, getting their kids on the school bus, cleaning their homes, doing the laundry. Some are working in corporate America. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to have success in the life they lead and to encourage women to fit this in around their lives.

We also mentor them. That could be one of our field development managers, which is a boring corporate title. It’s really just two great women who’ve been out in the field themselves. We have a head of sales, and we call her Mamacita. She has lived the life that many of our women have—of starting and believing in something—the nervousness of it, wondering how much you’ll invest in it, wondering if you’ll have your family’s support in it, wondering if it’s actually going to be successful.

We’re very conscious of all that, and now that we are four years on, we understand that conversation much better because we’ve lived and breathed it. We’ve seen how our business is slightly unusual to anything else. We’ve been able to curate the training to fit our program.

CH: What characteristics are true of an India Hicks ambassador and/or customer?

IH: We like to feel that we’re quite diverse in the field of women who join us as ambassadors. It may be a new mom, a woman looking for a second career, a woman whose kids are leaving home and she wants to do something, but doesn’t want to go back to corporate America. We really welcome anyone—as long as they feel comfortable around a $500 handbag and they feel that they’ve got access to a network of women who will want to buy something that isn’t necessarily a recognized luxury brand.

Our customer likes to feel that she has discovered something that is slightly more understated. It’s timeless. There’s quality there, and it’s very affordable. Our starting price is a $28 and 70 percent of our collection is under $70.

All of our bags have stories behind them. There’s a woman out there who loves to carry our Carmen clutch because she is reminded of Carmen, a wonderful Spanish aristocrat who ran off with a bullfighter.

Our customers and ambassadors are quite similar in their taste for timeless elegance and design. They want something that they can pass on to generations that follow. They’re looking for something that feels a little bit more unusual. They don’t follow fashion trends.

Certainly, our woman is spirited. She likes adventure, and she’s got the guts and determination to keep going.

The other thing we see consistently is that our ambassadors like to give back, and so do our customers. It’s a philanthropic-minded community, so we have a program called Get Together Give Together where a percentage of our proceeds goes back to a charity. As a company we do not align ourselves with a charity. The ambassador should choose which charity, foundation or cause she wants to be giving back to, and the customers are the same.

CH: Who or what are your inspirations when you are designing products that will be sold under your brand?

IH: We know which leathers are going to be more durable, and which fabrics are going to tell our story in a better way. We know which factories are going to respond to the way we think and the way we want to produce. We always position the collection around three words: unexpected, spirited and heritage. When we’re designing a product, we ask, “Does it have heritage?” If we’re taking a graphic design from one of my father’s archives, that will absolutely have heritage behind it. Inside one of our holiday bags—a navy blue velvet with gold—you open the bag and on the silk lining, there’s a little message that says, “Count your lucky stars.” So yes, that’s unexpected and it’s also quite spirited.

CH: Can you explain more about how you’ve updated the model of direct selling for the times?

IH: We have four big launches a year, and we release a new product each month, so there is always a conversation to be had with a customer or friend. This month, for example, we launched pajamas, and they did incredibly well.

Ambassadors don’t have to host a trunk show or a pop-up. They can ask their friends and family to go to their website, or say, “Pop over to my house and I can show you a sample.”

We encourage them to think about their own e-commerce. Each ambassador has a replicated website from our main site where their friends, family and customers can shop very easily and place orders with out having to attend a party. We have a lot of innovative ways for women to shop, including virtual parties. We love the fact, however, that the majority of parties happen at the hearth and home, and that women are shopping around the kitchen table and gently encouraging one another to shop.

We also host Live & Unbleeped every week. It’s a 20-minute episode where I’ll introduce someone, or I’ll do cake decorating at home, or show someone how to style a handbag, or have Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics play for us, or Nathan Turner and I will shop together in the farmers market. Each 20-minute episode allows the customers to come into the lifestyle and the brand, and to see the messaging and the fun that we have. There’s always a deal linked to that. Again, it’s just a different way for customers to engage with the brand.

CH: A weekly show sounds like a big commitment to content, right?

IH: Content is what separates us from the masses, and it’s the conversation that everyone is having at the moment. Luckily, as a brand, we’re very rich in content. Even my little three-legged dachshund is a hero within the brand.

CH: Any advice for people who are trying to build a brand linked to their name?

IH: Be cautious and make sure you have a financial runway. I think what jumps up with entrepreneurs is the financial stress and strain. Creative people are almost never thinking about how long it will take to build a brand and get it off the ground.

When your name is involved, you do have to be more cautious. I chose to put my name on the brand because I wanted to be accountable. I felt that if I was going to share my business with other women, I wanted them to believe that I really had their backs. With my name on the product, if there is an issue, I am bloody well going to make sure it gets fixed.

A Conversation with Musician Ron Gallo 

Ron Gallo is a rock musician, singer, and songwriter known for his contemplative and honest lyrics. He began a solo career in 2014, and has released several EPs and two albums: “Heavy Meta,” and this year’s “Stardust Birthday Party.” His popular song, “Young Lady You’re Scaring Me” has been streamed over 16 million times on Spotify.

Ron is currently touring his newest album, and performed in Indianapolis last week. I met up with Ron and his band while they were eating dinner before the show, and we talked about his background, his inspirations, and the importance of taking time to be alone with yourself.

Julia Bluhm: So this album focuses a lot on self reflection and paying attention to the moment that you’re in. What inspired you to make an album about this?
Ron Gallo: Well, I guess just from my own experiences of doing those things, which were pretty unfamiliar because most of my life I’ve kind of avoided that. I kind of avoided myself forever. And then life just kind of gets to a point, or at least for me it did, where you have to stop and look– like really look– for the first time at yourself. Sometimes that involves questioning your whole idea of what reality is and being open to the idea that maybe it’s not what you thought it was. That kind of begins this life long process. It’s interesting to turn inward like that for the first time.

JB: Was that a sudden awakening for you? Did an event spark that, or was it gradual?
RG: Sort of. It began with a friend of mine who went to South America to live in a Shamanic community for a year. So I just sort of started looking up stuff, stuff to read about turning inward like that, and it peaked my interest. When you witness a transformation with someone else, you realize that maybe there’s more than what meets the eye. Every person in your life can kind of serve as a mirror, if you’re paying attention. But it was a combination of things.

JB: I read that you meditated too?
RG: I’ve been toying with that for the last couple of years. And I actually ended up going on a retreat committed to silence and meditation which was really good for me. Shutting up and turning off your phone for a week is really eye-opening, especially in the modern day. It really starts to show you what’s there underneath all the noise. That’s where the good stuff is. It also helped me realize that human beings in general are a complete mystery. That’s the weird truth that no one wants to admit, so that’s why we cling to our false identities because it’s easier than accepting that our world and life and everything is unknown and it will always be unknown. I think that’s why people run from meditation and taking time to be alone with yourself. I still do. We all do.

JB: Is that what your song and music video “Do You Love Your Company” is about?
Yeah. Kind of the discomfort of sitting with yourself for a minute and fearlessly looking at the situation. It’s like looking into a void. If you really, really break it down you realize “I have no idea what’s going on besides that story that I’ve created and tell myself every day.”

JB: What was the process of making this album like?
RG: It was crammed between tours. We didn’t really feel like we made a record. We toured forever, were home for fifteen minutes and recorded an album and then went back on tour. There was no romantic, fun, creative story. A lot of the songs were just written over time, while we were on the road. We didn’t overthink it. We kind of just did it.

JB: How do you like touring? Are you in your element right now?
RG: This is great. I think this tour is and will be great, and our tour in April was amazing. I’m with friends, visiting beautiful places. Sometimes it can be tough though. We did a European tour that was like a month long, and that was tough for me for sure. Touring can be so taxing, so if you don’t allow that time to rebuild, it can break you down pretty quickly.

JB: Can you tell me about your background? Have you always wanted to be a musician?
RG: I don’t know how I got started. I don’t really have any idea. I asked for a guitar when I was like twelve years old for Christmas. For no reason at all. There was no big ah-ha moment, I just got one. And I didn’t know how to even hold it correctly or play it. Then I decided that I was fit to be a singer and guitarist in a band in high school, and neither of those things were true. The first time I ever played in a live setting was at an open-mic and my friend did an acoustic medley of Dave Matthews songs. There was never a realization that it was what I should or shouldn’t or even wanted to be doing. And I didn’t have any natural ability so it didn’t really make sense but I just kind of stuck with it. With my previous band, that was the first band I toured with, it started to become a little more clear. I liked touring, and I always liked writing songs. That’s always been the main thing for me.

JB: What’s your favorite song from the album?

RG: I really like the song “Love Supreme (Work Together!).” I feel like that’s becoming the main part of the show, like the sentiment of that song, especially now. It has this general vibe of unity and bringing people together, especially in a time where there’s so much chaos. I think it’s an important thing to remember.

You can keep up with Ron Gallo on Instagram, Twitter, or on his website.

My Style: Breeze Robinson 

Breeze Robinson is a law student in Indianapolis, and the owner of Future Friends Holographic Magic club, a contemporary art collective. The goal of the collective is to emphasize marginalized voices through the expression of art, film, music, poetry and performance. Breeze also happens to have great style, influenced by hip-hop culture and A$AP Rocky. She told us more about her style inspirations below.

What is your earliest memory of a noticeable interest in fashion?
BR: I had a favorite outfit that I wanted to wear every single day when I was in 1st grade because none of my other clothes were cool enough.

Who or what influences your style?
BR: I’m mostly influenced by hip-hop culture and street fashion. Specifically A$AP Rocky and Young Thug.

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
BR: Highsnobiety, alyxstudio, badgarlriri, patternmagazine

Describe your personal style in four words or one phrase:
BR: “Pretty cool I guess”

What’s your go-to item in your closet?
BR: Black denim overalls

Who are your favorite designers, and what do you like about their designs?
BR: Virgil Abloh because he makes streetwear into luxury clothes.

Define fashion:
BR: Wearing clothes to convey a message about yourself or society.

Did you ever consider leaving the Indy area? If so, what made you stay?
BR: I think everyone considers leaving, but I like it here. There’s room for growth, opportunity, and folks from Indy are some of the most creative people I know.

What trends are you noticing for spring fashion?
BR: It looks like the 90s might be here for another season. Also baggy clothes, bright colors, especially green.

What’s next for you? What short and long term goals are on your list?
BR: I’m going to keep running Future Friends and providing an opportunity for marginalized artists, graduate from law school, and take up a career in modeling.

Worst fashion trend:
BR: Jnco Jeans

Best fashion trend:
BR: I’ve been really happy with the resurrection of the color blocking and stripes from the 90s hip-hop era.

Last but certainly not least, name your favorite fashion icon:
BR: A$AP Rocky

You can follow Breeze on Instagram, as well as Future Friends HMC.

“I Vote Because” Photography project gives voters a voice 

Today is election day, but you probably already knew that thanks to countless reminders and “I Voted!” stickers on social media. If it feels like people are emphasizing voting more than ever, it’s because they probably are. No matter what their political views are, most people have a strong opinion about the current administration, and this election could reduce or aid President Trump’s decision making power. Renowned photographer Janette Beckman and PROOF: Media for Social Justice executive director Leora Kahn understood this, and were eager to do their part to encourage people to vote. They decided to do so through photography, thus the “I Vote Because” campaign was born.

Janette Beckman and Leora Kahn came up with the idea in December, while chatting in a cafe in New York: They would go to swing states, take portraits of people on the street, and ask them why it was important to vote. If they weren’t registered to vote, PROOF’s team would register them right then and there.

PROOF is a New York City based non-profit that uses visual storytelling to inspire action on issues surrounding human rights. Beckman is a renowned documentary photographer who has done lots of photography work regarding the punk and hip-hop eras in London, New York, and Los Angeles. She has also done photography for rap and hip-hop labels, including for artists such as The Police and Salt-N-Pepa.

For Beckman, being able to get out of the “New York bubble” and meet people in other parts of the United States was exciting, especially as someone from the UK.

“We all live in New York you know, and it’s a bubble,” she said. “And here we are in swing states where it could go either way and there are a lot of different beliefs and a lot of different types of people. It was an amazing experience.”

She likened the experience to photographer Richard Avedon’s 1985 project titled “In the American West,” where Avedon traveled through the west photographing many different kinds of everyday people.

Beckman was inspired by this to make sure that the “I Vote Because” campaign was as diverse as possible. After all, America is a country of immigrants, she pointed out.

Beckman and the PROOF team also wanted to make sure they reach communities that are disproportionately affected by voting restrictions and the inconvenience of voting. For example, seven states have very strict photo ID laws, where citizens must present multiple kinds of government issued photo identification to be able to vote. But more than 21 million Americans don’t have this kind of ID, and they are disproportionately low-income, racial minorities, or disabled. Other kinds of restrictions that make it hard to vote are transportation to voting locations, and the bans that some states still have prohibiting ex-felons from being able to vote.

Beckman and the PROOF team believe that voting restrictions should be lifted and that all people should have the right to vote, no matter their situation.

“You know, it doesn’t matter how poor you are, or if you’re an ex-felon or a drug dealer or you’re homeless– your vote should count and your voice should count. That’s the most important thing,” Beckman said.

To take the photos for “I Vote Because,” Beckman and Kahn set up white backgrounds on the streets of cities like Jacksonville, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. They usually focused on working-class neighborhoods. In Jacksonville, they set up their set in front of the bus station which was situated between a homeless shelter, a drug rehab center, and near a prison. Then, they simply photographed people who walked by and asked them why they thought it was important to vote.

They photographed approximately a hundred people a day, and gathered lots of interest from those who saw them and were curious about what they were doing.

“Somebody would see us an they’d come all the way over in their wheelchair, over all of this bumpy ground in the parking lot to come and get their photo taken and be a part of it. Some guy rode his Harley onto the set to get his photo taken,” Beckman said with a laugh. “Some guy even came up trying to sell us weed, and we said “do you vote?” and he said “yes” so I was like, “let’s take your picture.” People would see us and be curious about what we were doing, and would want to be a part of it.”

The finished portraits can be seen on PROOF’s website. They were all in black and white, and featured their subject in whatever way felt natural to them. Some people smiled, some people did not. Some people held objects that reflected their jobs or hobbies, and some people posed with their arms around their children and loved ones. Beckman stayed away from posing the subjects– she wanted them to appear as they really are.

The final images are being displayed on billboards, buses and subway stations. They are accompanied by quotes about why that person values voting. A few examples of quotes are, “I vote because my ancestors couldn’t.” and “I vote because it’s my obligation to protect the rights and future of my children.”

Now that it’s election day, Beckman hopes that the people who participated in the photoshoot and people who have seen the campaign take time out of their day to vote. Regardless of what happens, she’s proud of PROOF’s efforts.

“After the last election a lot of people got really depressed because it wasn’t the president they wanted. In my own practice, I wanted to use the tool that I have, which is photography, to try and help change what was going on,” she said. “So that’s what I’ve done. And whether it’s working or not, I don’t know, but at least I know I tried to do something and I’m really proud of it.”

In the end, the “I Vote Because” campaign is about more than simply voting once on election day. It’s about listening to those whose voices are often ignored or deemed less important about the issues that affect their lives, from immigration to civil rights to health insurance. PROOF’s campaign has brought these people into the spotlight.

Q+A with Radio Personality Tommy 

Tommy is an up and coming Indianapolis-based DJ who recently started his own radio show on 99.5 ZPL. You can tune in on Saturday nights to check it out, or watch the Instagram livestream that he does before each show. Read on to learn how he became involved in music and radio, and what kind of music he’s listening to right now!

Julia Bluhm: Tell me about your background. How did you become interested in music?
Tommy: Music was never a part of my family, still to this day I am the only one in my whole family that has ever gotten their feet wet in the music industry. However, when I was really young, I got fascinated in the music that my dad would play, which was 80’s classic rock. I never really saw myself in the music industry until I was 15 years old. I went to my first real concert which was G-Eazy at the E room on his “These Things Happen” campaign run. While everyone was having a great time partying, I just thought to myself that I could do what he’s doing. I realized it didn’t take a superhuman to make music and reach an audience. With all of that in mind, I started creating music and took it from there.

JB: How did you become a DJ and get interested in radio?
Tommy: When I started, I was actually rapping at the time, and thankfully not a lot of people were aware of that. When I was a senior in high school, I took the music sound production class at J. Everett Light, which is like a trade school. The teacher, Mr. Hendrix, gave me an opportunity to try radio via their station at the school, which was 89.3 WJEL. Around that time, I linked up with Rambo who’s the guy that runs the Naptown Connection blog. I told him what I had and we used that platform to launch The Turnip Show. The whole idea behind the show was to shine light on local music. We hosted live interviews every week and previewed music from new artists every week. While all this was going on, I continued making music but I had also bought my first pair of turntables. I got a couple of requests to DJ sets at shows. I really didn’t know what to do though since I was still very invested in making my own music. I did some soul searching until May of 2017 when I got the opportunity to DJ for Lil Pump. It never actually happened because a bomb threat was called at the Emerson theater during one of the opening acts, but I took it as a message from God that I was meant to DJ because I would be more successful in that. The day after that show, I completely threw away making my own music to support others in the form of DJing. And once I was able to invest all of my time and work into that, I really just took off with it.

JB: Tell me about your radio show. When did it start?
T: Ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve been very interested in radio, especially with how good of a run Rambo and I had with The Turnip Show. I entered the high school radio contest for Indiana, and It was a great opportunity and I actually ended up taking third place at the contest. After high school, I didn’t have an opportunity to extend my radio career and honestly I had no idea how the radio industry worked. Fast forward to late freshman year of college, I was accepted to work in the promotions department for Entercom after applying for about 10 other radio stations. Entercom owns the brands ZPL, The Mix, and CBS Sports. This was my first choice and I’ll never forget where I was when I got the call for the job. After working on the promotions team for a few months, I worked an event with Jackson, who I later realized was the talented guy that beat me and won first place at the radio contest I competed in during high school. And through networking with him, I was able to land an on-air spot at 99.5 ZPL.

After lots of training, I started my radio show the first weekend of October. Jackson is also on Sunday nights for his all-request show, so if you’re reading this check that out too!

JB: How would you describe the overall style/ vibe of your radio show?
T: Very upbeat. The different part of my radio show which a lot of people don’t do is that I will go live on Instagram for a few minutes before the show. TV, radio and media in general is very restrictive. Going live and giving people an opportunity to see my face, ask me questions and have conversations helps me knock down the barrier between me and our listeners. At the end of the day, I’m completely fine talking to a large group of complete strangers. But, I’d like to try everything in my power to make those strangers feel close to me and for myself to be close with them.

JB: How can people listen?
T: It’s very easy. On Saturdays from 8p-Midnight, hop in your car and tune into 99.5 ZPL or download the app and look up ZPL.

JB: What’s your advice to young people who may want to be a DJ or have a music-related career?
T: Network, network, and when you think you’ve networked enough, keep networking. Aside from that, follow your dreams and pay attention to God’s cues. Do what you want to do and not what society wants you to do. Try everything.

JB: Who are your favorite musical artists right now?
T: I don’t know where to start. Certain music and certain artists have touched me in different times and life situations. I like to think of it as Lil Wayne raised me into liking hip-hop music, G-Eazy changed me into the way I look at the industry today, and Tory Lanez saved me from rough times in my life. But recently, I’ve really been rocking with Marshmello, Lauren Sanderson, and the people I work with like Cartier, Fazle, Ky, Lil Flex, XP, Christian Taelor, Aares and more.

You can follow Tommy’s work on Twitter and Instagram.

Stay Tuned: November 2018 

Steven Russell is an event producer who is active in the Indianapolis music scene. He is also the creator of Lari Pati, a music start up that hosts alternative rap and R&B dance parties in Indianapolis.

Tell us about your musical background.
SR: My musical background began circa 2000 in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. looking through CD booklets and watching 106 & Park after school. No formal training. My feel & understanding of music comes from a consumer perspective. Today, I use that understanding to help break new music, new DJ’s & new artists in Indianapolis through our party series Lari Pati.

Tell us about the mix you curated. Does it give off a type of mood?
SR: The mix curated is the Lari Pati sound with a dash of recent cuts that make my heart smile. It’s a energetic, funky & soulful mood. It’s the perfect soundtrack for those commutes to work or days you want to stay in the house & vibe out.

What groups are killing the game right now?
SR: Let’s start with the local scene first. In no particular order: King Kap, Poindexter, Double A, Heyzeus, John Stamps, Parris Ladame, Feyi. I have to add the producers too because in this climate, they shape the sound: TyjuanOnTheBeat, Mathaius Young, s0shiny, Jed Blue, FreshDuzIt, Trilli & Knags. Outside state lines, so many to name: Tierra Whack, Travis Scott, Rico Nasty, Gunna, Lil Skies, VanJess, Kelela, BROCKHAMPTON, Young Thug, Amine, Jaden Smith.

Tell me about your past and current music projects.
SR:This year was the start of Lari Pati (“street party” in Hatian Creole). It’s a music startup on a mission to make Indianapolis a place to hear music first through playlists, parties & shows that break new music, new DJ’s and new artists. We currently have two playlist series going strong right now. One being the 000 series which consist of jams your local DJ fails to play at their respective club and bar residencies. Then there’s the F&F series which consists of sets of people we love and support as well as those who move the needle in Indianapolis. Both series are designed to show to not only those outside state lines but to those in our city that Indianapolis and Indiana as a whole is in the know, if not ahead of the curve when it comes to what’s cool in the world.

Lastly we’ve been fortunate enough to bring the music we’ve curated through the playlists into a IRL experience with our Lari Pati party series. The party has grown steadily thanks to the support from Grove Haus, Pioneer Indy, Do317, and the artists, clothing shops, brands and lovers of new music we have in the city.

We have our 4th party on Nov. 9 at the Pioneer in Fountain Square with Trilli, DJ Ant Banks, Brooke Billions & Ferris Booler providing the soundtrack for the night. Get tickets at or get them at the door for only $10.

What are your interests outside of music?
SR: Outside of music, I love learning through trying new things, checking out new places, and meeting new people. Anything that will push me out my comfort zone and challenge what I already know is great.

Twitter: @pitchforpennies

Instagram: @pitchforpennies


Maker of the Month: The Paper Peony 

Stephen Brooks’ business The Paper Peony is a unique one: he makes hyper realistic paper flowers. Though he’s only been doing so for a year and a half, his work has gathered lots of interest on social media for how real his paper flowers look. You can find his flowers at Homespun, Blooms: A Floral Studio, and Mercantile 37. He also sells individual flowers on his website and makes custom arrangements for weddings and events.

What piqued your initial interest in designing your products?
When my wife was expecting our second child, we knew we were going to have a girl and we knew her name was going to be Juliet. There is a rose called a Juliet Rose and I wanted to surprise my wife with a bouquet of roses…until I found out how expensive they were. I found a template from a crafter online and decided to make my own. My first attempt was decent and after a few tries, I was getting the hang of it. Then a close friend suggested I make them and sell them. Voila, The Paper Peony began.

What principles do you use when designing?
My goal when creating paper flowers is to make it as botanically correct as possible. From petal size and shape, to the stamens, sepals and the leaves.

What comes first for you, the design materials or the design concept?
For sure the design concept. When it’s time to create a new flower, I will sit down with photos, and start drawing petal shapes until I settle on one to try. (If I’m lucky, I will get a real flower, deconstruct it, and then make a template based from the flower.) Then I decide what crepe paper to use.

Could you describe the process of creating a piece – from conception to finish?
A lot goes into making a paper flower, but here’s the rough process. First I will start with a live flower (or many photos of a flower) and deconstruct it to create a rough template of the petals, stamen, calyx, leaves, etc. Once the template is created, I’ll cut the correct number of petals from crepe paper. I’ll then start shaping the petals, giving them the appropriate cupping or stretching they need. Once all of my petals are formed and ready, I will begin to attach them to a paper covered floral wire. I keep building the flower out until all of the petals are attached. Then I’ll attach the ‘calyx’ pieces that help cover the transition of the petals to the stem. Then I’ll wrap the stem in floral tape, attach the leaves to their own floral wire, and then attach them to the main flower stem.

Describe a piece you’ve created that you are most proud of. What was special about it?
My favorite flower right now is the LUXE Classic Rose. It took me about 10 tries to finalize the design of the rose.

Roses have such a noticeable profile and I wanted to create something that was sturdy and luxurious. These roses contain anywhere from 31-35 petals and are constructed with thicker, double-sided crepe paper. They are almost heavy for being made from paper. But this helps make them very resilient.

Describe the commissioning process. What are the best and worst aspects about doing commissions?
A majority of orders that come in are commissions—someone who needs a custom order/arrangement of flowers. These are always so fun to do because they are usually very special to the person ordering. With that comes a lot of pressure to get everything just right. Paying attention to every little detail, even though someone might not ever see what I see. Every now and then a commission will come in, I’ll send the invoice/quote and they will say it’s too expensive. It’s a little disappointing, but I know how much time and effort it takes to make just one paper flower so I’m ok to move on.

What advice you would give to aspiring designers like yourself?
Make as many flowers as you can. You can read every book, watch every YouTube video, go to every workshop, but the things you learn from making your own flowers are invaluable. Practice makes all the difference.

Dream commission/client?
I’m so hoping Karen and Mina from Good Bones will order some flowers one day!

What’s your most rewarding memory in your business?
One of my best memories was when a friend of mine came to me to recreate his wife’s bridal bouquet. It was such a large task and it challenged me in new ways. After it was finished, they both came to my house to pick it up and she immediately teared up and hugged her husband. It was emotional, and meaningful and I felt so special to be a part of creating a new memory of an old memory.

You can follow Stephen’s work on Instagram, Facebook, or on his website.