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Monday, June 14, 2010

Sheena Luckett-Dodd’s Boutique Revolution

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Tucked away off MCTS bus Route 21 on North Avenue, more than a stone’s throw from what might be considered Milwaukee’s fashion district, Boutique Revolution and Gallery (5209 W. North Ave.) offers a haven for art and community, an incubator for the handmade-vintage fashion revival. For founder Sheena Luckett-Dodd, the “catwalk” that led to opening her doors last October has been a two-way street. The model-turned-role-model’s enterprise exists as a vehicle to pave the way for independent designers and a hub for creative freedom.

What got you interested in the business side of fashion?

I was involved with urban model teams in 2005, which supported each other by sharing resources and participating in local fashion shows and photo shoots. But modeling wasn’t what I wanted to do, nor was it paying off financially. I decided to use the networks to nurture designers and connect art with fashion.

How does your boutique promote designers?

We showcase seven local designers at a time and grant them generous compensation plans of up to 70% of the sale. We also sponsor monthly gallery events that celebrate a designer and host our annual “Fashion Revolution” runway production.

What’s your process for discovering talent?

Through e-mail referrals and the Internet. My inquiry may start with a visit to a store that carries a line that intrigues me. The artists have to demonstrate tenacity and belief in their vision.

How difficult is it for a designer to make a living in the Midwest?

Wanting to be a “household name” means doing something every day to make it happen. For example, we just did a trunk show with Anna Hovet, who started her line a year ago. She travels constantly, runs her own website and does calculated face-to-face presentations. That takes energy and dedication, so the networks and money will follow.

How are art, fashion and community connected?

It’s like our neighbor we call “Miss Sue” who routinely passes by our store. During one Westside Artwalk, she responded to our outdoor sign inviting anyone to enter the boutique and contribute to a community canvas. Most people added a few strokes, but apparently “Miss Sue” tapped into her creative side, painting for hours. I told her next time she gets her own canvas.

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