page contents

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.

Q+A with Artist Brijit Martinez 

Brijit Martinez is a local artist who describes her paintings as bold, sexy, and bright. She also sells handbags and apparel with her art on them, so that women can carry this confidence wherever they go.

Martinez is new to Indianapolis but is already busy immersing herself in the Indy arts scene. She recently participated at a RAW art show, where we stumbled upon her work. Last week she stopped by the PATTERN office to talk about her inspirations, and give some advice to aspiring artists.

Julia Bluhm: How did you get started as an artist? What was your training?
Brijit Martinez: I’ve never had training. I’ve been an artist from when I was old enough to hold a pencil or crayon in my hand. My mom has paintings of mine from when I was four years old. She still has them framed. I loved art class in school, I was always one of the best artist, and I took pride in that. I always had creative projects on the side in school and high school. I knew I had a creative ability, but I didn’t know what to do with it. I went to college and studied finance at Florida State, and started my corporate career for a Fortune-500 company. But eventually I got bored of it, and I started to paint and post my paintings on Facebook. I got really good feedback. First, I was painting people for free. And I think when I sold my first painting I sold it for like $50, and I was thinking, “woah, did someone really just pay me $50 for this?” That was back in 2010. It’s been growing organically since then. I have a business plan, and I’ve really been trying to grow a brand online and on Instagram.

JB: So you’re a full time artist. What does being an artist mean to you?
BM: Yes. And when you say artist, that could mean a number of different things. For me it means creating designs that are attractive, unique, bold, sexy, and can be worn. That’s kind of my tagline: I believe that art should be worn and life should be painted. So designs that can be worn as artwork on your apparel, but also can be as art in your home is my goal: no matter where, it can make you feel really stylish and trendy and unique.

JB: What kind of apparel do you sell?
BM: Right now I’m doing t-shirts, sweatshirts, and I do have handbags that I paint on as well. All of those have a similar theme. I like to stick to the same color scheme. I like a black or white background as a base, and then I just throw colors like red and teal, and I love metallics and bling.

JB: What made you want to try putting your art on apparel?
BM: I’ve always loved fashion. I actually would get a lot of requests from people about if I had shirts. It’s actually hard to put a design on a t-shirt; it’s not a one-step process. You have to convert the image to a vector, you have to think about the quality and fabric of the shirt– you have to think about all of that. But people were requesting so much that I just decided to figure it out. And my apparel sells really well, people love it.

JB: What are your inspirations?
BM: I get inspiration from a lot of makeup artists believe it or not. I like painting lashes and lips. I’ll see a picture of a face that someone did, and I’ll be really excited by bright lips or different colored lips or colorful eyelashes. I’m also inspired by the artist Lina Valentina. Her work is also very sexy and bold.

JB: You’re from Florida, and you haven’t been in Indianapolis very long. What do you think of the Indy arts scene so far?

BM: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came to Indiana. But everyone I’ve met, especially people involved with art, have been so great. My realtor who helped us find our house is really plugged in with different art events and boutique owners. And there have been some art festivals recently with great turnout. So even though Indianapolis isn’t a major metro city, there is really a need, desire and appreciation for art here.

JB: What’s your advice for young artists?
BM: Always remember to network. My network has gotten me further in life than anything else– further than my education, further than money. Your network is really your net worth. Talk to people, ask questions, don’t be afraid to go up to someone at an event and just say, “what to you do?” because everybody has a story.

You can follow Brijit’s work on Instagram or on her website.

Pretty Velvet Liars 

Photography by Chantal Dominique
Styling by Claire Bowles
Hair by Belinda Benham
Makeup by Michelle Steele
Assisted by Julia Bluhm and Samantha Ripperger
Models: Emily Evans, Calah, and Kristina Bauer of Lmodelz

All looks courtesy of The Toggery and Vintage Vogue 

Look 1:

Velvet Dress – Zara
Brown Booties – Clarks

Look 2: 

Plaid Skirt – silence + noise
Velvet Button Down Top – Elliott Lauren
Brown Boot Heels – Via Spiga

Look 3: 

Dark Purple Velvet jacket – The Pyramid Collection
Plaid Pants – Anthropologie
White Top – Banana Republic

Look 4: 

White Top – Vince
Coat – Trina Turk
Purple Velvet Pants – Ralph Lauren
Brown Heels – Bandolino

Look 5: 

Camel Coat – Kristen Blake
Black Velvet Top – Dantelle
Plaid Pant – Gap
Black Shoes – Reaction, Kenneth Cole

Look 6:

Black Faux – Planet
Striped Skirt – Vintage Vogue
Black Boots – Steve Madden


Location courtesy of The Athenaeum Foundation and Coat Check Coffee