My goal with Brittaney’s Beat has always been to give a personal, fresh take on the stories I’m talking about. This week’s topics really hit home for me. I started off with Prince William and Prince Harry’s final phone call with their mother, Princess Diana , as revealed through their new documentary on her life. Then, I hit on some interesting allegations against Usher. I wrapped up with the MTV Video Music Award nominations, specifically how one of the nominees, Alessia Cara, stood out for me. Check it out below!
Hours before the AFC Wildcard showdown took place at NRG Stadium, another battle of sorts was going on at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It was a fight between fans of the Houston Texans and a car covered in Kansas City Chiefs decals.
The Bridal Extravaganza may have seemed like an unlikely place to take a sledgehammer to a busted old car, but the show’s organizers say it was a fitting way to let brides-to-be and their soon-to-be husbands relieve some of the stress that comes along with wedding planning. Fans also say it was payback for the way the Chiefs beat the Texans at the beginning of the season.
Although we know how the story ended (KC shut out Houston 30 to nothing), fans were thrilled to destroy anything Chiefs-related, even before the game that put a wrap on the Texans post-season run.
This story was a lot of fun to do. I admit destroying things (in a somewhat healthy way) can be a great stress reliever. I could barely hold the sledgehammer, but I got a couple hits in! Check out the story above. I wrote and edited it.
My third story on CultureMap has finally made its debut. This time, I covered the designing duo behind Magpies and Peacocks, Sarah-Jayne Smith and Ahshia Berry. They take materials that would otherwise be headed to landfill and turn it into upcycled gold. Through a series of strategic moves, their goal is to transform and grow the fashion industry by giving emerging designers the raw tools they need to create and make a name for themselves.
Learn how they do it by checking out the article below.
You can also read it in its original format here.
Sarah-Jayne Smith and Ahshia Berry are running out of room in their Midtown warehouse. It’s like a fashion Candyland, stocked with clothing, jewelry, bags and furniture. “We have Salvatore Ferragamo handbags, Forever 21 handbags, vintage Dior cuff links, wedding gowns, costumes,” Smith says.
But pulling back the layers of glamour will show you the big names are just a small part of Magpies and Peacocks: An organization branded as the non-profit that helps other non-profits.
“We get a huge kick out of people stepping up to the plate, reaching across the aisle and helping each other out,” Smith adds.
Launched in 2012, Magpies and Peacocks works with local designers to upcycle, or increase the value of, items that would otherwise be headed to the trash pile. The new products are then donated to non-profits and sold at their events to help them raise money. So far, M&P has helped over 50 charities.
“If it’s not good enough, it gets remade,” Smith says. “We want it to be human. We don’t want it to be machine-made because that’s not our journey, but at the same time it has to be worth something.”
Partners with Peacocks
Another method happens each quarter, where organizations are nominated and two are selected to become partners with Magpies and Peacocks. This year, it’s Career Gear Houston and Houston PetSet. Collections are based on the organizations and sold online through the Magpies and Peacocks website. The chosen non-profits each get a percentage of the sales from their collections.
It’s part of a strategy that turns belts and ties into dog collars or tweed jackets into iPad covers and laptop cases. Each year, the charity diverts over 500 pounds of materials to be upcycled.
The push to make even a small dent in how much waste is created is why they collect everything from accessories and furniture to light fixtures and shoes.
Berry says you can get your item and monetary donations to Magpies and Peacocks simply by calling or emailing to let them know you have something to give.
But they also have a more social aspect to donating, where they partner with a local business to host a Closet Deposit event. You can drop off items, shop and mingle —usually with champagne and light bites to boot.
The organization’s concept really began to take shape when Smith worked as an interior designer. She noticed her clients all shared common habits when it came to clinging to personal belongings.
“We all kind of vet our stuff, but we don’t do it very honestly or openly,” Smith says. “There’s anything you’ve ever been gifted, anything you’ve inherited but it’s going to stay in that box until you figure out what to do with it. And I won’t even get into that category of stuff with swing tags on them because it makes you happy to look at it, but you’re never going to wear it.”
The good, the bad and the broken in those piles can easily clutter a closet. But Magpies and Peacocks says, give it to them anyway. If nothing else, it could offer the hidden treasure needed to continue growing “Artist in Nesting” – their program aimed at nurturing emerging designers. Smith and Berry describe it as “Project Runway meets Chopped.”
Designers are given a task and the donated raw materials to create pieces that will turn into a collection. A percentage of the sales from that collection will then benefit a local charity. Part of the program is also teaching designers about the fashion business and connecting them to the retailers where some of their products are eventually sold.
“They get the branding and marketing side such as being featured on the website down to the packaging,” Berry says. “Then each order is shipped with a handwritten note that mentions who made the collection.”
Artist in Nesting
Smith says the Artist in Nesting program (also known as the Designer Incubator) takes the guesswork out of it for stores partnering with up-and-coming designers who might initially be seen as a risk if they don’t have experience with pricing, packaging or quality control.
Since 2012, Magpies and Peacocks has helped 30 young designers. The latest is painter and art teacher Karen Roberts. She owns the company Zelda & LUCY, which features her collection of 1920s-style cloche hats made from men’s suiting and brooches. They range in price from $60-75.
Roberts’ collection was recently highlighted at an Artist in Nesting event at Langford Market in the Heights.
“We’re saying there’s a place for young designers here, and we can showcase them,” Smith says. “We don’t want to lose our graduates to New York. We need to show them that they can be successful here.”
That’s also why Magpies and Peacocks will host their signature event, “Catwalks and Classrooms” in September. The design competition will have 25 students create two to three upcycled looks from donated materials. Students as young as 14 taking fashion design courses can participate. Scholarships are among the top prizes awarded to the winners.
“We’re talking about building relationships with people,” Smith says. “Getting designers to collaborate with schools, getting schools to collaborate with charities. We’re trying to build bridges so that Houston’s a better place to incubate designers.”
You can find collections made for Magpies and Peacocks at CarrieAnn in Uptown Park and Impromptu and Olivine in the West University/Rice Village area. Wardrobe Boutique in Montrose will carry a Magpies and Peacocks accessory collection beginning in mid-July.
Happy New Year! Albeit, a few weeks late. I’m excited for the new year and hoping it ends where 2013 left off. For starters, I’m officially a University of Houston alum, graduating Summa Cum Laude in December. It was a tough semester working and going to school full-time, but I’m thankful to say I finally made it. Now, the next step is finding an opportunity where I can continue to grow and learn in my TV career. I’ve made a few changes to the site, including adding my demo reel to the Video menu. You can also see it just below.
Also under the videos page is a tab called Packages where you can find my story from Fashion Houston, a premier fashion event (think New York Fashion Week meets southern hospitality) held downtown at the Wortham Theater last November. I spotlighted Jo’se Reyes – a designer who ended up selling several pieces from the collection he showcased at FH. The next story I’ve added is about Paper Floral Artistry, a company run by Khrystyna Balushka. The Russian native has been featured in the Houston Chronicle and literally makes paper flowers for all types of events. I went to her warehouse to see how she does it.
The next change is the resume page. The biggest adjustment there is, of course, graduation! Woohoo!
I’ll be updating more regularly, so stay tuned!