July’s Ambassador is Chelsea Conklin. In 2010 she founded www.theplat4m.com/, which has given her the opportunity to blend her passions for creativity, innovation, and the arts, into a company focused on promoting emerging fashion. For the past seven years, Chelsea has split her time between New York and Miami, working with high-profile companies, and emerging fashion designers, brands, and artists at the vanguard of the industry.
Chelsea is an entrepreneur, visionary, and community leader. Her energy and drive are helping to define Miami’s up and coming, homegrown fashion industry. After reading about her, check out her site and learn more about her spectacular pop-up events and cultural happenings.
When did you realize you wanted to go into production and fashion? How did you get your start?
I grew up thrifting and going to fabric stores with my mom. She would have me pick a pattern – kind of like digging in the crates for vinyl; then choose a fabric; and then she’d make my clothes using that material. I never thought of it as fashion: I’ve always thought of it as an art project.
What’s the most memorable moment or experience you’ve had during your career?
Oh wow…so many. I was a dancer, so probably all the travel, and performing at Madison Square Garden and American Airlines Arena. Some of my favorite moments have also been right here in the Miami Design District. Watching people you know grow their businesses, push through to carve their own path, and do what they love in life. That’s the best feeling -- hands down.
You’re from Vermont, how did you end up in Miami?
I moved to New York when I was 16 years old. I was selling my line of reconstructed vintage clothing at THE MARKET NYC, and it was there that I met Alex, one of the market’s founders. He was ready to try something new and I had just moved from Miami back to New York, so we decided to partner and bring the emerging designer market concept to the Miami Design District. At the time, there wasn’t anything like that happening here.
Where are you finding inspiration nowadays?
I like to check things out… any kind of exhibition, performance, music, burlesque, underground club culture. Recently, I was impressed by a ‘live documentary’ of Buckminster Fuller by Sam Green at the Colony Theatre. The latest Jim Jarmusch film at O Cinema, “Only Lovers Left Alive,” was a must-see, and the Site-Specific: Performance Series in the Miami Design District is a new favorite of mine.
Do you have any favorite designers? Who?
I like to shop indie and uncommon. Some of my fave's here in Miami are Miansai, Nektar De Stagni, Gag Threads, M.16, Retromarine, Lisu Vega and Golondrina. I love the Alessandra Gold Concept store: she’s a shoe designer and is solely focused on housing local indie designers. Her space reminds me of a Miami version of the original Patricia Field – pre- ‘Sex in the City’, Patricia Field.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Peanut butter pie.
If you could do anything you wanted professionally, what would it be?
I’m working on a project that is a natural evolution of everything I do now. Even if I hit the lotto tomorrow, I’d still be doing this.
What changes have you seen in Miami and the Miami Design District that have really amazed you?
Miami has become an incubator for art and innovation, and the Miami Design District has been at the forefront of these changes. When I think about how Art Walk originated in the District, this is just one of several forums that created a cultural shift and boldly impacted neighboring communities and greater Miami. There has been a ripple effect that’s permeated many surrounding areas; you can feel that in conversations daily. Sometimes I think people forget how the District was one of the first to give emerging curators and artists an opportunity; it’s been a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of over the years.
What’s your vision for Miami over the next decade?
Miami is surpassing stereotypes and creating its own identity on an international stage. It’s refreshing to be in a city that is growing, but not overgrown commercially.
You’re a producer, but also a stylist, what’s the best piece of advice you can give someone about looking his or her best?
I think feeling good is our number one key to looking good. Beyond that, I feel like people make such a big deal out of style, and its really not that deep. It’s an art, and a self-expression that we get to make up as we go along. If we don’t like it - we can just change, take it off, and put on something new.
Photo credit: Justin Namon