The Tale of a True Fashion Hustle: Andrea Tomlin of MimiDre

19 Aug

Remember the days when Artscape embraced fashion with their annual runway shows and fashion design competitions. In 2010, Artscape presented the “Sew Your Inner Green” contest where participants had to make garments using at least 75 percent of non-traditional materials. One of the top five finalist happened to be Andrea Tomlin, who was fresh out of fashion school.


“[The dress] was made with fabrics from IKEA,” Tomlin said. My aesthestic hasn’t changed too much since then actually. If you look at that collection and what I do now, you see some of the same silhouettes. The greatest difference will be in the styling with the addition of the t-shirts. The looks are a lot more funky now.”


Combing her passion for graphic design as well as fashion, the MimiDre clothing line consists of T-shirts with a street edge and one of kind garments sewn in her studio. Each new piece that Mimi creates conveys a message of embracing who you are.


“People often ask what does Fly Nerd mean,” Tomlin said. The term “nerd” usually has a negative connotation while “fly” used a slang term means cool. Its a way to allow folks who have unique interests, style or personalities to embrace who they and what they like no matter how quirky and weird. Be Yourself!”


The karaoke loving fashion designer who is inspired by brands like Betsey Johnson and Brooklyn Circus can be seen all over town spreading the word about Fly Nerd. Whether it’s a surprise fashion yard sale in a secret location or teaming up with other local designers for a pop up shop event, Mimi doesn’t take a day off. Hence, a true fashion hustler.

“The partnership with For Rent shoes came about through their looking for local brand for the store before they initially opened in October 2013,” Tomlin said. I was referred to them and they felt that my brand was a good match for their store. I believe it is a great match because the person that identifies with being a FLY NERD loves being finding their own unique style. For Rent Shoes carries a diverse collection of very unique sneakers, accessories, eyewear and clothing.”


From being a highlighted brand at For Rent Shoes to creating a “Fly Nerd” lifestyle, she is a top designer that eats, sleeps fashion. This year, Mimi was honored to be nominated for the Emerging Fashion Awards MD.

“Winning Emerging Designer of the Year meant a great deal,” Tomlin said. If was a very overwhelming and humbling experienced. I simply make clothing and print tees because I like it. Its amazing to me that people connect with the brand and notice what I do. I am extremely grateful!”


19 Aug

One of my favorite places to discover rising fashion stars would have to be For Rent Shoes. It was back in May when I first heard about the Bmore Do More non-profit event presented by the owner of Style House Accessories. The mission of the non-profit is to help children attending Baltimore City Public Schools. This is very dear to Ms. Charm’s heart since my mother was a teacher for over 30 years in the Baltimore City schools. I knew I had to get in contact with this designing give-backer.
head shot

Meet Bronx native Shamaya House of Style House Accessories.

When did you realize you wanted to venture into jewelry design/fashion design?

I have always had a fetish for accessories and costume jewelry. I would go to every store even costume stores to find a certain type of piece. I got tired of looking for them and decided to try and start creating these designs I imagined in my head.   DSC_0070

What inspired you to create your line?

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Ms. Charm takes on Boulevard of Chic II : Modeling Debut!

10 Aug

Back in April, Boulevard of Chic premiered on Key Highway as the first ever fashion truck rally in Baltimore. Of course, Ms. Charm was there and had a very chic time. Around June, I received an email from the fabulous mastermind behind this event, Lauren Wilson, asking if I would like to be a model in their runway show for Boulevard of Chic II. Since, this is the year #YOLO for me, I said “YES!”.  I knew this would be the perfect event to make my modeling debut!  mebeforefashionshow Yesterday, I woke up around 7 a.m. to start prepping myself to be a model for a day. My prep involved much time with my blow dryer and CHI flat iron because I wanted to make sure my hair was manageable and not a headache for anyone.  I packed two tone page with my runway shoes from Poppy and Stella and other essential model needs.  Then, it was time for me to make my way to Rash Field.  photo 2 (7) If you know Ms. Charm well, she used to be able public transportation 24/7. Now, Ms. Charm has a car and a driver’s license. Every once in a while, Ms. Charm likes to hop back on public transportation and just take a walk in Downtown Baltimore (hello, exercise!).  I admit I kinda got lost in the crowd with all the Oatkon peeps, but it was cool to see all their cool costumes on my way to Rash Field.  photo 1 (5) When I arrived, I met up with Alyssa Luberto of Ability by Alyssa and she took me to the hair/make-up tent to get my model transformation started.  First, I got my hair did by Richie B of  Flithy Rich Hair Salon (located at 1190 W. Northern Parkway, Suite 105 by the way).  

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Broadway Bound Accessories: Rebecca Allen

6 Aug

There is just something about that blue and white building labeled 728 on South Broadway in the historical neighborhood of Fells Point. Naturally, city dwellers are attracted to the luxury peeking through tall checker box glassed windows.

Shoes in every imagiable style surround the boutique, but accessories are a highlight of this place as well. Such as spotting local jewelry designer, Rebecca Allen’s jewelry hanging beautifully on the wall.

Rebecca stage photo 1

Poppy and Stella is such a wonderful boutique, and a perfect place for Rebecca,” Allen said. We create simple, delicate pieces that fit well with the amazing shoes and clothing they carry. If a customer comes in and finds an amazing sling back and can easily throw a pair of our gemstone earrings on with them, our designs never over power the other pieces they are the perfect compliment.”


Before Rebecca Allen became a household name at Poppy and Stella, she transitioned her love for creating, sketching and designing from scratch by entering the accessory design program at Miami International University of Art and Design.

“After winning a competition in school, I interned at Sergio Zelcer,” Allen said. A few months later I was hired on to assist the head designer. When I finished up college I decided to move back up north and entered the Handbag Designer 101 competition. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a finalist and in turn received numerous boutique inquiries about where they could buy my line. I decided it was time to start my own business designing and creating handbags. After a few seasons of only handbags I wanted to expand my line into jewelry items. Seven years later the line has evolved into a full jewelry and small accessories company.”

Seahorse Necklace
The Maryland native designer still carries several pieces from her original jewelry line. One of her first designs was a pair of feather earrings in black that were wired wrapped hanging from silver earring hooks. Even though, she is committed to delicate, simple pieces with the occasional stand out design, every season calls for a re-birth of her accessories.

crown of leaves ring
“Each season we start out with a theme,” Allen said. The theme could be as simple as a color or as complex as a ‘circus’, which we did several seasons go. For this upcoming fall.winter our theme revolves around tribal, nature, organic, woodland designs. These pieces will be available [this month] on our website and in shops around the world staring in September.”

Mini Bunny Necklace

Rebecca Whimsical Beauty is a line of accessories that anyone could wear, pieces that could be flawlessly combined with existing items in their closet.

Rebecca stage photo 2
“We are always planning and designing bigger and better things for the line,” Allen said. We’d love to expand our bridal selection, and other accessories (such as hair, scarves, and small handbags). We’d love to just continue offering amazing accessories that people love.”


Musically Chic: Robert McFreshington of FREEState Workshop

30 Jul

When I have the time to enjoy live music (of course, I had more time to do this during my college years), I am always on the search for the next group of musicians to feature for my annual “Musically Chic” series.  I admit I have been wanting to feature Robert McFreshington and his crew that makes up FREEstate Workshop for a few years now. 


FINALLY . .. the interview is here with a man some call Fresh or Fresh Competition! The British born EMCee began his journey with the Maryland music scene back in 2006. It was in October 2009 that he established FREEstate Workshop, an audio, video production, promotion and clothing line company all wrapped into one.  Just this year, FREEstate broke one million views on Youtube. Besides being the mastermind behind a company that supports local music, he’s gets killer style points in my book. 


Think FREE, speak FREE, live FREE.

How did you know you wanted to be a musician?

“Music has been my savior since I found out about the holy trinity of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding,” McFreshington said. In my youth I was a chorus and played woodwinds throughout school. I started writing poetry at the age of 10 years old, this was my outlet, my escape and yet also the way I faced and dealt with my problems.

As Hip Hop grew through the 80’s and 90’s I began freestyling (real freestyling, not reciting written lyrics and calling it freestyling) for fun around the neighborhood. I grew up in Brooklyn Park, city zip code but considered Northern Anne Arundel County. I still have a tough time calling myself a rapper, more a poet who happens to rap… an emcee, master of ceremonies, commander of the stage.”


What do you remember about your first live performance?

“My first live performance was at Denafest,”  McFreshington said. Denafest is an annual benefit concert started by Aaron Hooper of the band Pasadena. This event still continues, this year it is the last weekend in August. I wore a black blazer, fitted cap low and rocked the stage in front of a crowd that had no clue who I was. MacG (John McGowan) one of my producers, rocked the electric guitar wearing the Burger King Mask. I remember pondering the thought “How many times I was going to mess up.”

The answer was 3, we videoed it to learn and grow as artists. One thing I did learn is it is not a good idea to smoke a blunt to the dome before you go on stage to perform a hip hop set. It is very faced paced, trying to fit as many songs as you can in a 25 minute window and cotton mouth can be a major difficulty.”

What do you love about performing? 

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Musically Chic: Carousel Rogues

23 Jul

Get to know Carousel Rogues!

They were formed in 2006 with singer/songwriter Caitlin Nethery, Zach Anslemo and a few friends.  Actually, I learned more about this awesome local band from last year’s featured Musically Chic artist, Matt Hutchison

Luckily, I was able to get in touch with lead vocalist/guitarist, Caitlin Nethery to talk girly fashion stuff and of course, music! 

“I love writing and playing music, and making art that goes along with it,” Nethery said.  I write garage rock-pop, but I also sing in a funk band and play with an early music ensemble (mostly 16th century music).  I teach piano and song-writing, and I truly enjoy my job most days.”


How did you know you wanted to be a musician?

“As a little girl, most of my play time was spent picking out tunes on the piano or drawing, ” Nethery said. My favorite toys were my suitcase record players and my mom’s discarded 45s.  On car rides, I would listen to my mom sing harmony with music of the 50s and 60s and it wasn’t long before I was singing with her.  I guess you could say I was just “born that way,” but it wasn’t until high school that I realized I couldn’t imagine studying anything else for 4 years in college, or doing as a vocation.”


What do you remember about your first live performance as a solo artist?

“My first live performance with Carousel Rogues was at a little coffee shop called The Mudd Puddle in downtown Frederick, Maryland,” Nethery said.  Our gear was mostly terrible, and I stared at my left hand the entire time while I played guitar, ha!  For a long time, I’ve struggled with feeling bad about drawing attention to myself, so the live thing can be really tough for me.  I’ve had to learn to be okay with the fact that I’m naturally a little bit shy and passive aggressive, both on and offstage.  I also really enjoy performing when I’m in the right frame of mind.”


What’s the best part of performing live?

“I love that when I play live, I am getting the chance to say something important in person, as it were,” Nethery said. The older I get, the more I just want to write about important things.  I want to carefully consider who my song is for as I write it, and while I play it on stage.  Those kinds of things deserve to be communicated in person I think.  I really like getting the chance to share a little bit of the stories behind the songs as well, if it’s the right crowd.  You never know when someone is really going to relate to your music and your story. “



Describe your personal style in five words or less.

“Neo-Victorian meets tough and tender,” Nethery said.  I love high frilly collars on blouses and dresses because I love anything Victorian era!  I love pastels and soft dresses, but I also love pieces that have structure and more aggression.  I have a spike bracelet that I wear almost everyday–it looks so tough; I love it!  Sometimes I’ll pair it with a sweet little dress for the juxtaposition, and I think it reflects my personality.  The guys are both lower maintanance.  Dan is usually in a vintage tee shirt and hoody, though he wears a tie at shows a lot.  Zach is like a hipster grandpa!  He can honestly wear anything.”


Does your stage style differ from your personal style? Why or why not?

“My stage style is the same as my personal style, but it’s stepped up a little,” Nethery said.  I’ll spend more time on my hair, make-up, accessories and overall look for a show.  This is important to me because I think that visual art just helps to further express whatever the music is communicating.  As an artist, what I want to communicate stays pretty consistent, whatever the medium. “


Anything else you want to share?

“Whenever I am demoing a new song, I use whatever is handy,” Nethery said.  Sometimes my percussion is high-heeled stomps and hand claps; sometimes it’s a broken toy tambourine.  On our new record, there is a song that has growly guitars and lots of swagger, then abruptly shifts to early instruments in the chorus, which is about as acoustic as you can get.  It’s like Weezer crashing the renaissance festival.  The pallet for each song ends up being pretty eclectic, and the way I go about fashion is very similar.  I’ll use whatever is handy.  A nice ribbon becomes a choker.  
I learned to do so many things– drawing, song writing, singing– by listening and imitating.  In a similar vein, I would LOVE to write a song for the credits of a Disney film and also do voice-over work for a Disney film.
Zach (husband and guitars for Carousel Rogues) and I live in a 108 year-old house in Brunswick, Maryland.  We recorded most of our first record here, and I also run a song shop out of it.  People can commission an original song from me and I will write, produce and record it for them.


CAROUSEL ROGUES PLANS FOR SUMMER 2014 “Well we have been sitting on our second record for months, and we can’t wait to release it.  Hopefully that will happen this summer.  We are also working toward moving to Nashville.”




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