The New Way Forward for Green Building Design

Part of what inspired me to write about sustainable and ethical fashion was my educational and professional background in green building design.  These talents and interests recently combined when I was tasked with a new assignment at work.  After attending a regional USGBC conference, I had the opportunity to share some of what I learned in my first (but hopefully not last) post on my company's blog: 

Please give it a read - I am excited to be part of this industry and for the new direction that leaders in sustainable building design are headed. 


LPF Productions Streetwear Fashion Show

    Mimi Nguyen made a Minneapolis return with her streetwear label Melevated at Prive on April 29, 2018.  The show, hosted by fellow Minnesota ex-pat and recording artist Finding Novyon highlighted under-the-radar designers on a “Fast and the Furious” inspired runway.   

LPF Streetwear Fashion Show runway.

LPF Streetwear Fashion Show runway.

    A self-taught designer driven to do whatever the hell she wants, Mimi put a lot of effort into organizing a Minneapolis event while back-and-forth between here and Los Angeles and putting together her collection (and making me a custom gown for a formal event…but that’s a story for another time).  

    The event was organized by LPF Productions and Guild Apparel with sponsors PRIVE MINNEAPOLIS, Pledge Empire Records, Global Impex USA, and PARKER XL.

    It’s a passion of Mimi’s to support underrepresented designers (and musicians) by connecting them with a crowd that is seeking something new or different.  My only wish is that more and more people get behind it!  The show may not have the buzz of more established Minnesota fashion events, but the talent is just as worthy of attention. 

The Clothes

Lighthearted casual wear from Chill Vibes:

The Brick Bow Tie Collection from Ice Cream Bow Ties 

FYI, Ice Cream Bow Ties was founded by a very ambitious (and dapper!) youth: 

Ice Cream Bow Ties founder Aniki Allen

Ice Cream Bow Ties founder Aniki Allen

Thought-provoking screen prints from LIFE Custom Clothing

Cool crop tops from Supply Mpls 

Sleek and metropolitan looks from RHEY Apparel, who has since been featured at the Northern Vogue fashion show and The Volk’s summer fashion show, and whose founder will be speaking at a Fashion Group International event later this summer.  

Sassy stoner apparel from Got Loud?

And of course, aggressively sexy streetwear and luxe jackets from Melevated.
Sidenote: Mimi’s attitude in life can be summed up by the fact that she opened her own damn show.  

Melevated designer + owner Mimi Nguyen

Melevated designer + owner Mimi Nguyen

The Music

Musical performances peppered the intermissions between runway segments.  

Kiyanna Ma  killin' it on stage.

Kiyanna Ma killin' it on stage.

Outfitted in Melevated, Kiyanna Ma really got the crowd riled up.  Her song “Bossay” still gets stuck in my head: 

  Another musical highlight was Paige Ellis wearing Got Loud?  Paige will also be performing at Culture Piece Magazine's 2 Year Anniversary event on June 24.

Paige Ellis

Paige Ellis

  Other musical performances included Yung Wes, Mr. Newz, Ced Linus, Sti-Lo Reel, Blond Todd, and DjAirmanheat. 

    Learning from experience is a side-effect of Mimi's gusto for creating and her time working and growing on the west coast seems to have helped her focus.  It’s great to see her flourishing in Los Angeles and making time to contribute to the Minnesota fashion community.  

    Expect more sexy streetwear and lots of surprises at the next LPF show at Prive on Sunday, August 5, 2018.  Tickets available now via Eventbrite and are $20.


    In addition to returning lines Melevated, Got Loud?, Chill Vibes, and LIFE Custom Clothing, the show will feature Lavish Denim, Penash, ICARUS, PAPARAZZI FLASH, and Che Couture. 

FWMN Spring 2018

The snow from the mid-April blizzard finally melted and in perfect time for the Spring 2018 edition of Fashion Week Minnesota (FWMN).  A recap of my top FWMN picks: 

One of my favorite FWMN moments - These outfits (right and left) made of recycled Superbowl tents and computer parts at Innovations.  Designer Lena Pelini (center) soldered the computer cables together for the look on the left. 

One of my favorite FWMN moments - These outfits (right and left) made of recycled Superbowl tents and computer parts at Innovations.  Designer Lena Pelini (center) soldered the computer cables together for the look on the left. 

April 19, 2018

The semi-annual FWMN kickoff party at the W Hotel Minneapolis is the intersection of fashion, socializing, and social media.  Models on rotating platforms showed off garments from burgeoning designers Drazenka Designs, Spencer Versteeg, Hannah Johnson, Cassidy Glynn, and Coup De Fourdre.  


    A floral background anchored the red carpet where Anahita Champion interviewed fabulous attendees: 

At Minnstafashion wearing a Vikse necklace and Winsome Goods dress. 

FGI Presents - Accelerating Your Brand: Media, Styling & Exposure
April 25, 2018 

    Hosted by the Minnesota-St. Paul chapter of Fashion Group International, this panel discussion on branding was moderated by Ali Kaplan and included input from luxury shoe designer (and podiatrist) Marion Parke, Instagram star Doug Marshall-MacDonald, and Maya Clark of Culture Piece Magazine

Panelists Marion Parke, Doug Marshall MacDonald, and Maya Clark

Panelists Marion Parke, Doug Marshall MacDonald, and Maya Clark

Major takeaways: 

  • You are your brand even when you don’t think anyone is watching 

  • Be clear and consistent about what you want your brand to be 

  • Start from the inside/in your heart 

Studio Progressive
April 26, 2018

Fashion sketch by Tessa Louise.

Fashion sketch by Tessa Louise.

    A behind-the-scenes peek into the process of six Twin Cities makers, Studio Progressive shared a unique perspective of our favorite locally made goods.  Featured designers included Karen Morris Millinery, Strey Designs, ACG, ILO Studio, Tessa Louise, and Foat Designs.  

Fashion and art as one from Anna Chambers-Goldberg of ACG.

Fashion and art as one from Anna Chambers-Goldberg of ACG.

    Part of what I love about local fashion is feeling connected to the story behind the clothes, and events like Studio Progressive make it even more accessible to get to know the designers and their stories.  

April 28, 2018

Co-organizers of Innovations 

Co-organizers of Innovations 

    The only zero-waste fashion event in the Twin Cities, Innovations combines creativity and sustainability through unconventional design and styling challenges as well as showcasing ethical brands.  Local designers like Crave by Carli Rae Vergamini, Sseko shoes, and Joeleen Torvick hosted pop-up shops.  

    The Eco Design Challenge brought attention to issues affecting the earth including water, agriculture, transportation, energy, and bees/animal conservation.  

    The Stylist Design Challenge showcased the creativity of 11 Twin Cities stylists/bloggers as they put together looks from pieces various thrift and consignment stores.  

    The final portion of the show featured boutiques and designers WAY the label, Spoils of Wear, Slate Collective, and The Icon Effect. 

Circa Now
April 29, 2018 

    Another celebration of the overlap between FWMN and Fashion Revolution Week, Hazel & Rose’s Circa Now event exemplified how vintage and secondhand garments can be an excellent and sustainable way to shop. Looks combining pieces from Hazel & Rose and secondhand pieces from Keep, Moth Oddities, The Golden Pearl, Arlee Park, and Arc’s Value Village.  

    After the runway, a panel discussion on vintage clothing as part of the future of sustainable fashion with representatives from each of the featured boutiques took place, moderated by Emma - founder and co-owner of Hazel & Rose. 

The Spring 2018 season of FWMN brought a lot of changes to FWMN.  The addition of Senior Advisors to the FWMN team helped shape the lineup to include more options for shopping directly from featured designers as well as incorporating events from the coinciding Fashion Revolution Week and voices from communities that are not always included in mainstream fashion events.  Also, the update to the FWMN website to include a local fashion directory and original content by FWMN writers marks a new direction for the group.  Can't wait to see what next season brings! 

What The Heck Is A Questival?

What does a Questival have to do with being on this ledge?  Find out below.  Thanks to my teammate for the great shot!  

What does a Questival have to do with being on this ledge?  Find out below.  Thanks to my teammate for the great shot!  

Cotopaxi asks: 

WHAT IF you could spend 24 hours with your closest friends, in your favorite city, checking a bunch of amazing experiences off your bucket list? Now imagine taking part in this with hundreds and even thousands of other adventure seekers…
Scene from the check-in party. 

Scene from the check-in party. 

Ethical adventure apparel and gear brand Cotopaxi hosts this day-long scavenger hunt style adventure in dozens of US and Canadian cities each year:  

I was first introduced to Cotopaxi when buying Christmas gifts for my family.  I wanted to get my grandpa a new jacket but was also trying to give gifts that uphold the same ethical standards as things I buy for myself.  To help me in this endeavor, I downloaded the DoneGood extension for Google Chrome - which suggests ethical, eco-friendly, and/or philanthropic brands that are similar to the product or brand you searched. 

My quest for the perfect gift for grandpa was successful!  Happy to say he wore the (reversible!) Kusa Bomber Jacket to his 93rd birthday dinner a few weeks later: 

After my purchase, I subscribed to the Cotopaxi email list and got the alert that the Questival was hitting the Twin Cities. I immediately RSVPd on Facebook and told everyone about it, then promptly forgot about it until the week of.  Oops.  It worked out, but I would definitely advise registering early because the registration fee is lower earlier in the game.  And you have more time to assemble a team…more on that later. 

With registration, each person gets access to the challenge list/app, team totem, and a Luzon backpack:   Fun fact- Luzon is one of the biggest islands of the Philippines, Cotopaxi's backpack producers are in the Philippines, and there is a Philippine star printed on the side of the bag. 


The totem was just a little flag that needed to be in most of the challenge photos/videos: 

Challenge 061: Find and photograph one of the tiny doors put up by the artist Mows.

Challenge 061: Find and photograph one of the tiny doors put up by the artist Mows.

The backpack and totem, and kickoff team challenge worth a bunch of points, were available at the kickoff party.  Also at the kickoff party were food trucks, live music, and a Cotopaxi pop-up shop. 

Challenge 263: Eat something from one of the check-in party food vendors and take a quick pic.  Buffalo panini from

Challenge 263: Eat something from one of the check-in party food vendors and take a quick pic.  Buffalo panini from

Another benefit to starting early: getting it together to complete the pre-event challenges.  My team missed easy points for things like Facebook sharing or making up team nicknames by not being prepared ahead of time.  

My team ended up consisting of me and my significant other.  This was fun, but made it both easier and harder to complete the challenges.  Some of them would have been easier or we could have gotten more creative with our photos or made more videos with more people, but this only serves as incentive to do it again next time. 

The challenges themselves varied in difficulty and type.  From one-point challenges like #180 "Follow Cotopaxi on Twitter", to six points for #065 "During daylight hours walk across Smith Ave. high bridge and take a team selfie in the middle", or 12 points for #249 "Go find Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji. Take a picture with 1 of your teammates in their best woodsman attire.”, the Questival offered different challenges for different people. 

There were challenges involving camping and survival that I definitely was not prepared for and some fitness-focused ones that sounded fun but definitely more feasible with more people.  

Another helpful hint for success - try to get to the checkpoint challenges!  The general location and one-hour timeframe are posted ahead of time and each challenge is worth six points.  

Loring Park checkpoint challenge included a llama puzzle and word scramble. 

Loring Park checkpoint challenge included a llama puzzle and word scramble. 

The “Do Good” printed on the totem was certainly a theme of many challenges.  Some service oriented challenges like "Pick up 100 pieces of trash at a local park, recycle what you can and put the rest in the trash. Take a video clearly showing what you gathered.” Or "Contact the nonprofit of your choice and schedule a time to go in and volunteer with them after the Questival. (PLEASE if you complete this challenge make sure to honor your commitment). #integrity” or “Personally thank a current/former professor/teacher/coach for the impact they have had on your life. Phone, facetime or skype.” had me feeling warm and fuzzy even if we didn’t complete the specific challenge. 

Some of the wacky challenges made specific note of making sure to have permission before doing the wacky thing, because that is the right thing to do. ("Do your best gymnastics trick on a trampoline that you have permission to use. The rest of your team needs to hold up judging point cards.” Or “Choreograph a team dance and perform it with audible music in a crowded area. Get permission first from the owner/operator of the crowded area unless it is a free public space.”) 

My least favorite challenge was probably #089 Everyone on your team eats one raw clove of garlic each. #foryourhealth.  

And obviously, I had to ham it up when the perfect photo op presented itself in Challenge #057 Find and take a team photograph with this mural during daylight hours:

Posing in front of a mural in St. Paul. 

Posing in front of a mural in St. Paul. 

Reppin' Chicago hard even in Minnesota.  Dress by Lara Miller, tie-front top by Akira, power clutch by Borris Powell.

Reppin' Chicago hard even in Minnesota.  Dress by Lara Miller, tie-front top by Akira, power clutch by Borris Powell.

I asked my teammate/SO to weigh in on our experience. 

He Says:

"The best thing about Questival was Cotopaxi's almost pervasive message of positivity. Their opening ceremony set the tone and cast all their quirky challenges in a healthy, fun light that really kept the competition from feeling too serious and brought a lot to the experience.

I also enjoyed the strategy of playing the game. There were plenty of high-value challenges that allowed less-committed players to still feel involved in the competition. On a side note, the role of "rating" other teams' submissions and holding them accountable was a great way to build a feeling of community and engender a commitment to doing good. I know I might sound like a sap, but you couldn't NOT buy into it.

I didn't like that some of the low-point challenges involved following Cotopaxi on Instagram, etc, but I realize that's the name of the game. It helps get their message out there, and at the end of the day I support the message. I do appreciate that it wasn't an integral part of the experience (by NO means was it something like having to share every post) and that it wasn't something that gave players willing to plug Cotopaxi on social media an unfair advantage.

I would recommend Questival to someone who feels distance from the people or culture around them. Though I was relegated to my team (of two) for most of the real-world experience, the knowledge I was a part of a bigger gathering was always in the back of my mind. It reminded me to be less cynical, less judgmental, and more supportive of the efforts of everyday people around me."

Check out our full team page here - we ended up with 160 points: 

As for the winners - the app notes that the top teams had up to 628 points!  The top teams are listed here: and you can check out each team’s page here: 

Cotopaxi also compiled their “Best of” list here: 

Overall, I would abso-freaking-lutely do it again.  I hope next time to start earlier and get to more of the service oriented challenges.