Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What We See Depends on What We Look For...

I spent yesterday evening with a fabulous, dynamic group of specialists in various creative and business fields, planning what everyone, everywhere will soon hear about: StyleWeek Providence. I could not be more excited to work on this project! If anything makes a fantastic concept better, it is a palpable energy driving it… and that is exactly what StyleWeek Providence has.

StyleWeek Providence is the brainchild of dynamo (talk about energy!) Rosanna Ortiz Sinel, a fashion writer and general fashion guru. When she shared her brilliant idea with me a couple months ago, I almost jumped out of my seat. See, we are both transplants to Rhode Island with a shared interest and expertise in fashion. Further, as relative newcomers to Providence, we see our new home with “outsiders’” (read: not jaded) eyes. The home of RISD and the historic center for jewelry design (not to mention the most vibrant and charming city in New England!), Providence overflows with a creativity that, until now, has been largely disjointed. StyleWeek Providence gives those creatives in the areas of fashion and design a common voice. And it will be a powerful one.

Top designers in various fashion categories, from across the region—Rhodies (that’s local-speak for “Rhode Island dwellers”), New Englanders and those with local ties (a la RISD alum)—will showcase their collections at shows spread across five days next June. Far from being just a social event as many regional “fashion weeks” are, StyleWeek Providence is, at its root, a business event, with buyers from New England, New York and across the country invited to meet the area’s phenomenal talent, and have the opportunity to then introduce it to their customers and audiences.

StyleWeek Providence is also, in a time when businesses everywhere are facing difficult challenges, an incredible example of small businesses uniting and promoting the local economy. Not surprisingly, businesses across the city are embracing the idea (the most recent and most exciting: Hotel Providence, the area’s finest upscale boutique hotel, home of one of the city’s most gorgeous event venues, Aspire, will be not only host to the closing-night show and festivities, but also serve as the official hotel of StyleWeek Providence).

So, while I’m gushing about StyleWeek in general, my points here are much broader for small businesses…

First: bringing in “outsiders”, who can view your area or business with fresh new eyes, can be a key step to visualizing your full potential and, ultimately, growing your reputation and business.

Second: Never underestimate the powers of partnerships, and common visions and goals. Our designers and venues have no prior connections, but are pulling together in ways that are the stuff of cross-promotion chapters in Business 101 textbooks.

The fundamental message is (while I hate this cliché): never stop thinking outside the box, and investing in new ideas, consultants and voices who can provide new vision and voices to grow your business. To borrow from John Lubbock: What we see depends on what we look for.

StyleWeek Providence’s inaugural event will be June 6-10, featuring fashion shows and celebrations at venues across the city. For updates, join StyleWeek’s Facebook Fan page, follow us on Twitter, and stay tuned for the website launch on Nov. 1. If you’d like information of sponsorship opportunities, a buyer or press invite, or to be considered to show your designs at StyleWeek, feel free to contact me.

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