The Ohio Burlesque Festival.
OBF- How did you get started?
VG216- Yeeeeears ago my mom and brother took a trip to Japan, and my mom brought me back some very outrageous look books from the Harajuku district that just blew my mind. Immediately I was obsessed, and took to etsy and ebay and google to find some of the accessories I saw in those holy pages of underground fashion! Naturally, everything in my price range was basically crap, and everything I wanted was waaaayyyyyy out of my price range so I gave up on it for a bit. Then one day while I was discussing my frustrations with a friend, he just looked me square in the eye and said "I bet you $100 you could make some of those yourself". So I took $100 to Pat Catans, bought some supplies, and before I knew it I had like, oh I don't know... probably 73 mini hats and fascinators lol. This project started to consume me! So I figured I needed to do something else with them besides make them. Thumbing through the Scene one day, squished inbetween the craft store my living room had turned into, I stumbled across an ad for this burlesque show at The Beachland on New Years Day! Le Femme Mystique, you've heard of them, yeah? Lol so anyway, the producer took a chance on me and let me come vend. The rest is history ;)
OBF-What drives your designs?
VG216-Everything! But mostly the things I love the most, and my mood when I sit down to create. I'm a moody gal lol, but I think over the years I've managed to make that work for me with the broad range of genres I've dabbled in. I adore everything from bubblegum pop culture, to the dark and occult. I'm an information sponge... and my designs are a reflection of all the people I've ever met, and all the experiences I've ever had so far.
But also swarovskis. There's just nothing better than opening up a 10 gross pack of elements, twisting off the cap of a fresh tube of e6000, strapping on the old respirator and making some breaking bad sparkling magic happen!
OBF- Tell us about the products you offer?
VG216-Well, I started off mostly doing little hats and fascinators. Those were my first love. They're still an old standby, but the last few years I've branched out a lot. My favorite new designs can be found on the frames of my sunglasses. People have embraced those in a way they never could with my hats. I find the sunglasses are a much more accessible design, especially in a city like Cleveland. We're progressive, but practical, so that's been an item I've really enjoyed seeing people connect with. I also carry a variety of hair flowers, hair bows, headbands, magnets, and recently I got back into jewelry again.
VG216-I know this sounds cheesy and like I'm pandering... but honestly the thing that inspires me the most is the people I meet and connect with when I'm vending a show. The look on someone's face when they try on something and it's just very "yes, yes this feels right, and this is the thing that's been missing from my life until now".
It could be an $8 necklace, or a $100 hair flower, in that moment, the price of the sale is completely irrelevant. Everytime I meet someone new and they find that one thing they've been searching for, it really is a thrill. It takes me back to the feeling I had when I first thumbed through that look book and felt myself light up. So I'm like an adrenaline junkie always chasing that high now lol... searching for the next new thing, how I can re-make something better, my next clever design... the conversations I have with the people I meet vending is always a new experience and inevitably inspires my next batch of wares.
VG215-Oh gosh, lol, where HAVEN'T I vended? Local burlesque shows, national burlesque shows (NYBF, Southern Exposure, Southern Fried, Fierce!, and countless smaller shows in Detroit and Pittsburgh over the years), zombie walks, Cleveland Bazaar (hi boss lady!), horror conventions, Ingenuity, Oddmall... I know I'm leaving some things out here and there, but I'm sure you get the point!
OBF- Where can we find you ?
VG216-1st and 3rd saturday of every month I'll be vending at Market Sq. Park (w25th and Lorain) from 10-4,
last saturday of every month at Crocker Park from 10-4 with The Cleveland Bazaar.
In the 216 carries some of my wares, and every Cinema Wasteland show!
I'm always looking for new things popping up in Cleveland though, check my instagram feed for all the latest shows.
...and definitely more Le Femme shows!
OBF-Do you make custom orders?
VG216-Those are my favorite orders! If you can describe it, I can make it :)
You can find Emily with Visual Grammar 216 Online
In The 216
Image Credit Steven Brown from Sainteven Photography