Feature | The Premier Fashion Event of the Year

DENVER – Four years of Colorado Fashion Week and it only gets better. Denver hails CFW as the Primer Fashion Event of the Year.

On Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 Colorado Fashion Week presented the collections of the most promising emerging and established fashion designers and brands as part of the international fashion business calendar.

CFW 2014 Runway Show Night 1, sponsored by Shane Co., took place at The Four Seasons Denver Hotel. Among the designers and retailers were Arturo Rios, Lotti by Amy Cabrera, Stitch Boutique, Sarah Ake, Sully & Co., KatyBelle and Hillary MacMilan.

In its four-year history, CFW has been self-funded by Justice Kwesi Kwarteng as well as through relationships built with generous strategic partners; the event has showcased top local, national and international designers and earned a dedicated day on the State of Colorado calendar.

“The vision and purpose of Colorado Fashion Week is to build Colorado’s international fashion industry presence,” said CFW Founder, Justice Kwesi Kwarteng. “Colorado Fashion Week was created to elevate Denver’s brand as a City, on both the local and national level.”

10678840_708415749235271_3013900927116955675_nColorado Fashion Week runs Oct. 3-7 at various locations in Denver. [Photo by Irma Laliashvili]

Colorado Fashion Week is dedicated to building an economically sustainable and highly respected professional fashion industry in Colorado.

According to Tom Shane, the owner and the headlining designer of Shane Co., there were approximately 300 hundred people at the event.

“It was an outstanding show,” said Charistina Armbruster, a Denver model who walked the 1st runway presentation of Los Angeles designer Arturo Rios. “Our fashion industry professionals have what it takes for making Denver the next New York, Paris, or Milan.”

10665716_708452639231582_3056016121624609826_nColorado Fashion Week is dedicated to building an economically sustainable and highly respected professional fashion industry in Colorado. [Photo by Irma Laliashvili]

In 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper officially declared Oct. 1 – 7 as Colorado Fashion Week, each year.

For more details and ticket information for all CFW events visit coloradofashionweek.co

Piece originally published in Metro-Post Telepgraph, post-telegraph.com

RESEARCH | The Importance of Code-Switching in a Classroom Setting

09 December 2016

The Importance of Code-Switching in a Classroom Setting:

And how both written and spoken forms enhances bilingual student’s ability to learn and practice a new language, as well as, switch from one dialect to another



This paper will focus on the process of “code-switching,” how it is used and why it is important in a classroom setting. My main question for this research study is why code-switching is important for foreign students to use in ESL classroom? And why teachers should have the patience and pay close attention when a student code-switches in a single conversation, particularly in a written form? A lot of the times, when a student is learning how to read and write in English language, what they usually do (from my personal experience) is translate a sentence in their mind from their own native language, before writing it down in English. It can be though, because sometimes that sentence makes more since in your own language, then it read in English and vice versa.

Learning how not to code-switch from a native language to English in writing for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual students, takes time. It’s a long process. In a way, it’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, every foreign student who has taken ESL classes has gone through code-switching (as well as code-meshing and code-mixing) by moving to United States from other countries. My argument for this research is to prove that code-switching is a natural process not only for ESL students but also for American students who are born in the United States but are bilingual or use different dialects to communicate. No matter the ethnicity, race, or background, people code-switch at some point in their live (if not all the time), and it’s just a matter of doing it the right way and not confusing your brain. From my experience, either in Russian, Spanish or English classes, when a teacher approves code-switching and code-meshing in a proper way, it is easier for students to start making connections in their minds, because that way they start feeling much more comfortable and confident with analyzing and using both languages/dialects.

What is Code-Switching?

Code-switching involves alternating between two different languages or dialects (switching within the same sentence) either in a conversation at school or at work environment. In his book Other People’s English: Code Meshing, Code-Switching, and African-American Literacy, Professor of Linguistics Dr. Vershawn Ashanti Young, believes that code-switching is using one language or dialect and one context, using Standard English at school or work and using African-English with friends and family. According to Young, “This is an appeal to literacy educators to teach how the semantics and rhetoric of African American English are compatible/combinable and in many ways are already features of Standard English, and vice versa. This way, the rhetorical force of student’s written work and oral fluency will come from a combination of so-called home language and school language- not from translation one from the other, but from allowing them both to mingle together with vim and vigor” (Young, p. 75). When it comes to a classroom setting, Young prefers the approach of code-meshing, which brings both code-switching and code-switching together.

The Method behind Code-Switching

Code-switching is a natural process for ESL students, as well as, for American students who are born in the United States but are bilingual. When a student code-switches in a conversation, the process happens naturally.  In his research study “Implications For Language Diversity In Instruction In The Context Of Target Language Classrooms: Development Of A Preliminary Model Of The Effectiveness Of Teacher Code-Switching,” Jang Ho Lee descriptively defines the understanding of the conceptual and pedagogical issues of code-switching in the context of TS classroom. The article examine four ideas (which is, monolingualism, naturalism, native-speakerism, and absolutism) the monolingual approach to TL teaching, and discusses why these assumptions are important.

Lee’s (2012) study found the following: “Classroom CS studies conducted by Simon (2001), Canagarajah (1995), and Merritt, Cleghorn, Abagi and Bunyi (1992), which have analyzed classroom discourse from a micro-ethnographic approach, have found that these characteristics are also observable in TL classrooms. That is, these studies have shown that teachers and learners do share some knowledge of the particular constraints on the use of each language code under certain situations, occasionally shift between different frames, and consequently present dual identities as community members sharing the L1 and as participants in the classroom. Through a stretch of discourse, classroom members can shift frames from a “formal institutional learning” frame to “social” frame (Simon, 2001, p. 321), or signal “alignment and disalignment” between classroom members (Eldridge, 1996, p. 307) via code-switching, all frequently observed features from bilinguals in naturalistic settings. To put it differently, classroom CS is not a random phenomenon” (Lee, 2012). The purpose of this study is to clarify what contemporary classroom code-switching research, arguing that teaching code-switching should be permitted as a legitimate pedagogical practice. Lee does a wonderful job at discussing that code-switching can should be permitted as a legitimate pedagogical practice, as it is not only an example of natural bilingual behavior, but also has good potential in terms of contributing to the development of TL learners’ bilingual competence.

The Practice of Code-Switching

While working on this research paper, I stumbled upon an interesting and educating YouTube video on code-switching titled “Code-Switching” (2012). The video documentary discusses code-switching and how switching from informal speech to a formal speech (Standard English) can have an impact on things like where you work and what you earn. It talks about the different environments in which Standard English should be used. According to an Associate Professor of English, Hampton University Shonda Buchanan, “When you want to communicate affectively, verbally and in written form, you need to utilize your propositions well, so there is a way to use above and below and beyond. The proposition is a way that you can strengthen your language if you want to” (Buchanan. WHROTV, 2012). The main focus in this documentary is the understanding of how in certain situations one should code-switch and to do it in a way that is appropriate and understandable. School educators discuss the principles of code-switching and how it affects both bilingual and non-bilingual students. I found this documentary very informative on understanding the theory and practice of code-switching.

Code-Switching and Dialect Preservation

In TEDx Talk video Leaving Your Fingerprint on Society, Andy Rivière, who does clinical work with adults who speak Cajun French and English in Avoyelles Parish, and Shayne Kimble a pediatric speech-language pathologist, discusses code-switching and dialect preservation. They talk about the role that dialect plays in one’s identity and projection of one’s self to the world.

Riviere and Shayne state that, “What do we do as dialect users when we come in to a commutative situation, with someone who doesn’t share the same dialect? Well, we use a nifty process called code-switching. This is where you take certain sounds, grammar and even senses from one dialect and use it in another conversation. We don’t use these 100% of the time. We do this so that we sound more educated” (Shayne and Riviere, 2015). As speech specialists in Southern Louisiana, their study explores their personal struggles to preserve their native dialect, while presenting themselves as professionals, and the understanding preservation/use of personal dialect in today’s modern society. The relationship between our cultural landscape and our changing language, ways in which we use language: our accent, expressions, and the structure of our sentences, changes from region to region, and why we should listen to these differences and why language can act as a cultural barometer.

The Perspective of Register Theory

In her article An Analysis On Code-Switching In “Fortress Besieged” From the Perspective of Register Theory, Meihua Wang discusses the differences theories of code-switching, particularly in in Fortress Besieged, a critical novel written by a Chinese novelist Ch’ien Chung-shu. She focuses on varies approaches of codes-switching practice, such as, an overview of code-switching studies worldwide, register theory, field theory, tenor analysis and mode analysis. Wang analyses Fortress Besieged and how some characters in the novel frequently engaged in code-switching in their conversation.

According to Wang, “…people should consider how to communicate with others, in a casual way or in a polite way. For instance, when talking with a person of higher social status, the language that the participants use must be overcautious. While, talking with intimate friends, the language may be pretty casual. Thus, tenor of discourse often varies greatly with the differences of the participant’s social status” (Wang, 2015).

And when it comes to writing and speaking in code-switching, Wang states that, “The essential distinctions among mode variations do not simply lie in that between writing and speaking, but much more in sub-categorization. When real situation is taken into consideration, this clear-cut distinction between writing and speaking is far away from the truth. The real fact is that there is a lot of overlaps between the two modes, and the distinction is much changeable than might have been presupposed” (Wang, 2015). The main argument in this study is the importance of three factors, such as, field, tenor and mode upon the occurrence of code-switching. It gives helpful insists of the different characteristically registered theories that occur in conversations.


The Importance of Code-Switching in ESL Classroom Setting

Code-switching in ESL classroom setting can be beneficial to bilingual students. In their study Reviewing the Challenges and Opportunities Presented by Code Switching and Mixing in Bangla, Md. Kamrul Hasan, an Assistant Professor in English at United International University, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Mohd Moniruzzaman Akhand, an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Eastern University, Dhaka, Bangladesh, investigated important issues related to codeswitching and codemixing in an ESL classroom.

According to Hasan and Akhand, “The English words like: Confusion, Confused, Urgent, Confirm etc. are used by the Bangla monolinguals in such a way that the words seem to be Bangla, e.g. /ami confused/ “I am confused” On a typological point of view, our study and observation shows the predominant pattern while codeswitching/mixing employed by different sections of Bangladeshi society is insertional type of code-mixing proposed by Myers-Scotton though the other pattern, like; alternational by Poplack is also there. It is difficult to find the presence of congruent lexicalization by Muysken as the Bengali grammar is not largely shared with English grammar. For higher section of the society, code-switching/mixing is employed as communicative devices as well as for social function, pragmatic function more than these devices are employed by other sections of the society” (Hasan and Akhand, 2015). Thus, their study explores the concept of socioeconomic class of language and suggests the concerns regarding the language during speech in order to establish and/or to realize social function, pragmatic function, and metalinguistic function, and understanding foreigner’s analysis on codeswitching.


Dialect is Not a Disorder

It is completely normal to switch from one dialect to another dialect in both spoken and written form. In her TEDx Talk Don’t mistake a dialect for a disorder, a senior at Eastern Michigan University and McNair Scholar, studying Speech Language Pathology, Sadé Wilson discusses the reasons to why Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) often misdiagnose children using African American English (AAE) as having an articulation disorder. Wilson’s research, African American English: Dialect Mistaken as an Articulation Disorder has been published in the 2011 McNair Scholars Research Journal, Volume 4.

According to Wilson, “…students are learning two dialects. At home, there’s most likely a huge chance that they are using African American English as the primary dialect with friends, families, and other members in their community. So what’s really good for the students is to know that they have a culturally responsive SLP, who understands and motivates them to still be who they are, while going to through the chronological mile stones of learning Standard American English in the classroom or during clinical sessions” (Wilson, 2013). By this, Wilson means the importance of this issue, as well as provides recommendations for speech-language pathologists when working with children using African American English.

Why do People Code-Switch?

There are various different reasons to why people code-switch. The process happens naturally, and usually we don’t do it intentionally. In an NPR article on Code Switch (race and identity, remixed) Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch, journalist Matt Thompson discusses the five different reasons why people code-switch. According to Thompson, “The reasons people code-switch… While many people told us they code-switched to fit in, for example, several also told us they did it to stand out. What the stories reiterated most of all, though, is what our colleague Gene Demby pointed out in his inaugural post: No matter your race, ethnicity, class or cultural background, you probably do it” (Thompson, 2013).  It turns out that we switch from a different language or accent without realizing that we’re actually doing it. We do it unconsciously. Another reason is we want to fit in. We want say something in secret. And finally, it also helps convey a thought by expressing our ideas. The main argument in this article is that no matter what ethnicity you are, your race class or cultural background, everyone code-switches. And it’s absolutely normal to do it.

Personal Experience with Code-Switching

After working on this topic, it reminded me of my life experience with code-meshing and code-switching back in middle school. I was the only Russian speaking student in my ESL class. Most of my classmates were Spanish speakers. There was one Chinese speaker and one Japanese speaker. While all of us were in that class to learn the English language, the Chinese, Japanese student and I, learned more Spanish words in that class that year, than we did English words. Spanish students talked in Spanish most of the time, and so it was impossible not to learn the language. They would use code switching, talking in Spanish and then shifting the conversation to a dialect in English, when talking to the teacher and to us non-Spanish speakers.

My main everyday language is Russian, Armenian and English. For example, I speak in Russian and in Armenian at home, with my parents, relatives, Russian friends, and friends back home. At school, at work, when running errands, going to events, obviously I speak in English. My mom speaks very little English, and so we communicate in Russian most of the time. Sometimes, however, I encourage her to speak English and I switch from speaking to her in Russian to speaking in English in order for her to learn more Basic English words and sentences.

When communicating with my cousins, code-switching and code-meshing are involved most all the time. In a conversation, we usually switch from Russian or Armenian to English and from English to Russian or Armenian. We might say one sentence in Russian and the next one in English and vice versa, or switch in dialog from formal Standard English to non-formal Standard English. It’s not like we meant to say one sentence in English and the next one in Russian. It just happens naturally. I think when people move to the United States from other countries at the age of twelve (like me) or younger, that’s usually what happens. You switch from one language or dialog to another language when having a conversation, and somehow it sounds absolutely normal when talking to friends and family.

Language is constantly changing and that we should speak and write in a manner that is clear, accurate and right to the point. It’s important to teach the correct form of context, content and communication skills to students. I think it is important for students to communicate in a way that is not only “proper” English (which I think is not more or less but equally important), but also most importantly in a way that they feel comfortable with speaking and writing.

Speaking of writing, when I revise my essays, for example, I do struggle most of the time with writing descriptively and changing/adding more meaningful details that read clearly and catch the reader’s attention. I usually reread my essay two times before I start editing it. And once I edit, I edit and reedit two, three times, just to make sure every word, sentence and paragraph flows well together and makes sense. The changes that I think I should make with my revision strategies, is thinking more logically in terms of “should I include this word in this sentence?” “Does it need to be there?” “Will this sentence read better without this word?” And also, editing carefully to make sure that my punctuations marks are included where they need to be.

Since my first language is Russian; I sometimes translate in my head from Russian to English and vice versa, from English to Russian. It is somewhat difficult and can get very overwhelming, when it comes to the revision process, and analyzing in English in general. But I think, that is what makes me think more logically, and having these to perspectives from Russian to English is what makes my writing and revision process that much more interesting and challenging (in a good way). I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I remember my ESL teacher and the way she taught the class very-well. She used beginning English grammar and spelling textbooks to teach us how to write and read, and sometimes a computer software program called “Rosetta Stone.” It was challenging at first trying to learn the basics, but as the years went on, writing in English became easier for me to understand English in all terms (Speaking, analyzing, reading and writing). Since I’m an English (Creative Writing) minor student at MSU Denver, in the past four years I took creative writing classes such as, the arts and crafts of writing, fiction writing workshop, nonfiction writing workshop, poetry writing workshop. My English professors all had their own different approaches of teaching their students writing.

My nonfiction workshop professor once said to the class, “If you can talk, you can write.” In the beginning of every class period, we had to write little prompts (one page to two pages) on how our day was going so far, what we did on the weekend, what we’re planning on doing, what are plans for the summer, what are our plans after we graduate, our goals and dreams. This process really helped me, as a student, to think in a more creative and thoughtful way about my own writing. It helped me to become a better writer and not code-switch as much as I was used to.

Grammar is very important written and spoken forms. Whenever one is writing an academic essay or a nonfiction story, they have to use the correct form of grammar in order for the reader to understand their writing.


Conclusively, this study showed that code-switching is a normal process that occurs when switching from one language or dialect to another. Code-switching is not an articulation disorder nor is it considered to be a communication defect. Whether it is at a school or work environment, everyone code-switches. Whether they are bilingual and switch from one language to another, or use the same language but different dialects to communicate. It’s normal to code-switch. However, switching from African American English, Spanish English or Russian English to Standard English should be to a minimal, especially in profession work environment, such as at work or at a job interview.

It is important for teachers not to force students in analyzing, communicating or writing in a certain way that they think is right. They should have patience and play close attention on how the student code-switches in a single conversation or written form and guide them from there. For foreign students, when a student is learning how to write and read in English language, they translate a sentence in their mind from their own native language, before writing it down or saying it in English. It’s a challenging process, and teachers should pay close attention to how students express themselves in formal situations. Students should write and speak in a manner that is clear, accurate and what is considered to be “proper” English. However, it shouldn’t be the only way to communicate. They should communicate in a way that they feel comfortable with.

In the end, code-switch or code-meshing is matter of choice. First and foremost, you should feel comfortable and confident with analyzing, communicating and writing in both languages and dialects.

Works Cited

Hasan, Md. Kamrul, and Mohd. Moniruzzaman Akhand. “Reviewing The Challenges And Opportunities Presented By Code Switching And Mixing In Bangla.” Journal Of Education And Practice 6.1 (2015): 103-109. ERIC. Web. 22 Oct. 2016.

Kimble, Shayne,. Andy, Riviere. “Leaving Your Fingerprint on Society | Andy Riviere & Shayne Kimble | TEDxVermilionStreet.” Online video clip. TEDx TALKs. YouTube, 12 October 2015. Web. 06 November 2016.

Lee, Jang Ho. “Implications For Language Diversity In Instruction In The Context Of Target Language Classrooms: Development Of A Preliminary Model Of The Effectiveness Of Teacher Code-Switching.” English Teaching: Practice And Critique 11.4 (2012): 137-160. ERIC. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

Thompson, Matt. “Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch.” NPR. Code Switch: race and identity, remixed. 13 April 2013. Web. 22 November 2016.

Wang, Meihua. “An Analysis On Code-Switching In “Fortress Besieged” From The Perspective Of Register Theory.” English Language Teaching 8.1 (2015): 134-141. ERIC. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.

WHROTV. “Code Switching.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 15 October 2012. Web. 04 December 2016.

Wilson, Sadé. “Don’t mistake a dialect for a disorder: Sade Wilson at TEDxEMU.” Online video clip. TEDx TALKs. YouTube, 28 April 2013. Web. 04 December 2016.

Young Ashanti Vershawn, Barrett Rusty, Young-Rivera Y’Shanda, Lovejoy Brian Kim. Other People’s English: Code-Meshing, Code-Switching, and African-American Literacy. New York: Teachers College Press. (2014), p. 75.

Interview | The Future of Journalism in the 21st Century

Suzanne Popovich Chandler is a broadcast and photojournalist who has been in journalism business for 35 years. She freelanced extensively for the ABC, NBC, and CBS networks including, 60 Minutes, America’s Most Wanted, Dateline and ESPN, and has been awarded numerous awards as a professional photographer.

As traditional newsrooms and editorial controls slowly vanish, the enforcers of journalistic standards are the audience. Today, colleges and universities offer variety of degree programs in print journalism, yet the question remains, if colleges should continue teaching programs in print concentration, since online journalism it taking over the world.

With the growing popularity of the Internet, gone are the days of print-only or TV-only newsrooms. Media companies no longer have to wait for the evening broadcast or tomorrow’s edition to report the news.

VIEW FROM ABOVE: “You can’t have as powerful reports without pictures or visual media.” Suzanne Chandler [Photo courtesy Suzanne Chandler]
Irma Laliashvili: You’ve been in broadcast journalism and photojournalism for 35 years, freelanced extensively for ABC, NBC CBS networks including, 60 Minutes, America’s Most Wanted, Dateline and ESPN, and have been awarded numerous awards as a professional photographer. In your opinion, what does the future of journalism in the digital age hold for aspiring journalists today?

Suzanne Chandler: The future of journalism is exciting in the 21st Century! Aspiring journalists today have abundant opportunities to communicate and interact with mass audiences – much more than what I had when I was first starting out in the business in 1981. Back then in broadcasting for example, there were three main networks. To get to work on one of the “ BIG 3” was extremely competitive.  Today we have hundreds of channels and an Internet full of online journalism. There are numerous opportunities and platforms for journalists to communicate with mass audiences.

The interactivity of today’s digital world is extremely useful to today’s journalist. For example, we can hear right away from those we communicate with, and the public – at one time our “ audience” can now contribute to the reporting of news. Reporting is no longer linear. It is interactive. Today we can serve the public even more by having instant feedback. We can find out how we are doing, and if we are getting the story right.  21st century Journalists can find out immediately if we are covering the issues that matter the most to the public.

IL: Plenty of people say newspapers will never die because people love the feel of newsprint. So if touch is so powerful, why are newspapers closing?

SC: Cost is the biggest reason newspapers are closing. Craig’s list took away classified ad revenue as you know and recently the Chicago sun fired all their photojournalists. My opinion is you cant have as powerful reports without pictures or visual media so those newspapers who don’t embrace the importance of visuals will find their audiences diminishing Perhaps local; small papers will stay in print so readers can keep the feel of he newsprint but in general people are beginning to feel better about reading entire books online. Why not news stories as well? KIDS are growing u with Ipads in front of them not news print so I see less and less newsprint and more online reports.

I however DO believe specialty magazines and tabletop books   with gorgeous print photos will always be around.

IL: What skills do big print publications such as Coned Nast and Hearst look for in ambitious aspiring reporters today?

SC: I can’t say for sure with these two publications you mention, but I believe most publications are looking for and needing journalists with multiple skills. They want journalists to know how to write, shoot still and video images and use social media. One of my friends was a writer for Islands magazine. When I met him he was taking Photo classes because they wanted the same person to take the photos of the location as well as write the story. This way the reporter could make the additional money they photographer made AND the magazine did not have to pay for additional travel costs for 2 people.

In the past there often was a writer AND a photographer. 2 travel costs. In this circumstance for islands magazine the writer needed to write and shoot. I think we are seeing more journalists getting jobs when they have a variety of skills to offer their employers. Budgets are down and there are so MANY outlets for stories. This means journalists need a variety of skills and need to adapt to be successful.

IL: Should bloggers adhere to journalistic standards when they publish information, even if they’re not trained journalists? 

SC: I believe if bloggers are transparent about the purpose of their blog, then following an SPJ Code of Ethics is NOT always what they HAVE to do. Editorials and opinion have always had their place in communication. As long as they represent their work as what it is then fine. What I DON”T like is when bloggers or any reporters present themselves as unbiased and then don’t cover the other viewpoint, or check for accuracy. When they have an agenda they are hiding that really bothers me.

If the audience does not know the difference between trained journalists and everyday contributors, one concern of mine is that the non-professionals are taking away the job of trained professionals.

In the end, this is really up to the public. The public has he power to keep journalists in business by simply watching or reading their work. Journalists have the power of keeping jobs by earning the public’s trust through a variety of multimedia skills and being adaptable and versatile. Of course I DO believe accuracy is important in blogs and checking sources for accuracy is very important.  Knowing media law and the difference between making up stories and presenting it as news is wrong. But not all bloggers have to be accurate as long as they honest that they are writing fiction or stating opinion. I believe the audience will learn how to distinguish between those who have integrity and those who don’t.  Learning visual literacy and Being critical of HOW the news is gathered and reported is precisely what I teach in my classes.

IL: Who will emerge as the enforcer(s) of journalistic standards as traditional newsrooms and editorial controls vanish?

SC: The audience – the public – has the power to make journalists earn their trust with accurate reporting. period. I don’t believe ALL traditional newsrooms and editors are vanishing. They aren’t. My last class took a tour to the TV station I used to work at -KMGH TV- and they noticed that there are editor’s producer’s newsrooms alive and well -just as there always have been.

Print journalism IS different. They have to adapt.  Newsprint is expensive to provide on a daily basis and is outdated as soon as it is printed. I am certain New York Times Washington Post – the big papers- DO have newsrooms, editors etc. Their success?? They have embraced their websites and multimedia. That is the key. Yes papers have suffered. We lost a 100-year-old paper in Denver and recently the Chicago tribune fired all their photographers. But guess what? Many of the paper reporters have landed jobs in TV. And there are plenty of jobs in corporate communications and PR.

Good reporting is good reporting. Newspapers need to adapt and use the versatility of the Internet and social media and adhere to SPJ code of ethics and earn he public’s trust in a new medium. Good storytelling is what is important. With out ad revenue, papers need to jump with all they have to multimedia.  Accurate online reporting.  The profession of journalism will survive as we Report across platforms including the use of all social media technologies.

IL: If newspapers are struggling to generate print ad revenue, will they have any more luck generating online ad revenue?

SC: They are doing it already. As much as readers hate the pop up ads for example the ads are paying for the coverage of the news. Print papers are expanding and asking for subscriptions. The big papers with the big reputations – such as New York times, Washington post – They ARE getting the subscription revenue too and have some pretty competitive online websites.

What I believe newspapers need to do is invest in reinventing themselves. Be flexible. Embrace online journalism.  Hire the best multimedia journalists, commit to telling really good investigative stories and add some good news stories in the mix too. Listen to the public. If they don’t trust the media, do everything in your power to earn that trust and MARKET yourself as the media you can trust.

It is also ok in my opinion to be transparent and to do “agenda journalism” from a particular viewpoint.  When I don’t agree is when they aren’t honest about their agenda. They should NOT represent themselves as unbiased news. I love having the variety of viewpoints as long as journalists are honest with where they are coming from – with their agenda.

IL: Should colleges and universities still offer degree programs in print journalism?

SC: This is a very good question. They need to offer degrees and teach the importance of CONVERGING journalism. They need to have print be a part of the program but if print is all they are teaching I believe they are doing a disservice to the students. Students will always need to know how to write well. They will always need to know how to interview objectively. They will always need to know how to research a subject and look for a variety of viewpoints and if there is an agenda in the interview. But we can’t stop with only teaching print standards. For students to actually get jobs they have to know a variety of skills. MULTIMEDIA skills. They need to know how to write for print and online, AND they need to know how to make videos for the web. They need to know how to shoot good pictures for the web and if there is a print publication, they need to know how to write accurate reports that are interesting.

IL: Will TV news programs one day suffer the same fate as newspapers?

SC: No I do not believe TV programs will go away. Yes, TV budgets have been cut. And yes there are more TV programs to compete with. The big 3 networks just don’t have the market all to themselves as they once did but TV is already well versed in multimedia reporting so TV needs to continue to embrace an online presence.

As you learned in my class all the TV programs had websites. So I believe TV is at a great advantage because their people already have multimedia skills.

Newspapers don’t have to continue suffering their fate if they continue to adapt to multimedia and online reporting too.  They have some outstanding reporters and skills. They need to be flexible and know that the cost of newsprint is prohibitive and  – as much as we like it in our hands – reading a paper in your hands will never be at the heights it once was.

The key for aspiring journalists is to be versatile and have a variety of multimedia reporting skills whether you work at at newspaper, magazine radio or a TV station.

IL: Is there something I didn’t ask you or something you’d like to add?

SC: Yes, I’d like to add that Hopefully more students WILL take courses like the one I offered (Intro to Journalism), so students can learn to distinguish between good reporting and bad.

People need to demand that their reporters check sources for accuracy and then support their journalists by watching their programs or reading their websites, or publications. Students need to learn how to be that kind of journalist that has earned the public trust.

Unfortunately not as many students are taking “ journalism” classes. I think they think of it as only Print journalism and they might not have a job if newspapers are going out of business around the country.

The reality is that there is a bombardment of mass communication and information. Learning how media influences us is as important as it has ever been. There are Plenty of jobs in the media too Check sites like Andrew Hudson’s job site if you don’t believe me. The difference is that the jobs have changed away from print. That does not mean that people don’t need to be informed about their government or affairs or world around them.

People simply need to know where to go to get that information. And students therefore need to know how to gather accurate news with a variety if tools and then where to go to get the job.

I love the interactivity with the public. This helps journalists know what the public wants. Since we serve the public good it is great to get feedback as fast as we do in today’s digital age.

I believe we can keep the jobs in communication for aspiring journalists as the public learns the value of trained unbiased journalists from those who want to share opinion  -which may not be based in any fact at all.

This article originally appeared on Metro Post-Telegraph

And later re-appeared on Medium

For more information on Suzanne Popovich Chandler’s work, visit http://www.suzannechandlermedia.com.

Featured image: [Photo courtesy Suzanne Chandler]

Feature | The Advantages of Living Off-Campus Housing

Living off-campus has its own benefits

Auraria Campus is one of the largest college campuses in Denver and is located right in the heart of Downtown Denver. Auraria is a commuter campus, which includes three higher education institutions, such as the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver. Approximately 42,000 students are enrolled annually at the three institutions.

While each institution on campus does not have its own dormitory hall. There are several off-campus housing options for students to consider choosing from.

For incoming freshman or a returning senior, one of the biggest decisions students have to make in their college career is whether to live on or off campus. Living on your own for the first time is a big deal. And while it’s exciting and overwhelming, there is a lot to consider in terms of food options, independency, cost and living space.

According to students, living off-campus has its own benefits. Here are the four main reasons why living off-campus might best for you:


If you are one of those lucky students who lives in a campus dorm, where kitchens are available, good for you. However, is it everything you really hoped for? Do you often have to wait for the person in front of you who is baking cupcakes for her club?

Monica Bassett, a freshman biology student at MSU Denver and resident of Auraria Student Lofts, notes the benefit of knowing you’re eating good food.

“I guess one advantage of living in off-campus housing is that you get to eat whatever you want and you don’t have to eat weird food like mystery meat or vegetables,” Bassett said.

“The food is a lot cheaper, sometimes even if you get food delivered every day, it is cheaper than the meal plan, and you don’t have to worry about expiring meal coupons either.”

As a commuter, you will always have access to your own kitchen. You won’t have to worry about going to your local dining hall or waiting to use the oven in an on-campus kitchen. Instead, you can bring out your inner-Martha Stewart and cook yourself a delicious meal.


Living off-campus provides students with the opportunity to become an adult. They have more responsibilities than most on-campus students; besides the work they have for school, off-campus students are usually responsible for paying their monthly rent, cleaning, cooking and taking care of other financial matters regarding their living space.

This truly gives students a chance to be ready for any real world obstacles that they might face. With this new experience they will be prepared to rely on no one but themselves.

Kristin Thompson is a junior business major at University of Colorado Denver and resident of The Regency Student Housing.

“Generally, you get more bang for your buck when you live off-campus. It has nicer space for less money. It’s also generally more quiet, though this depends on your roommates and neighbors. You can usually hear through the walls,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, having your own apartment comes with increased responsibility.

“The legalities of living off-campus can be stressful. You’ll need to ask yourself, are you jointly or separately signing leases? Is the landlord good and quick with repairs? I live in a group house situation, probably the most stressful of all living arrangements, and it’s definitely a bit nerve wracking every month to collect all the money for rent and utilities, and also nerve wracking when something breaks and the landlord doesn’t think something is as important as you do,” Thompson said.

“You just have to cross your fingers that everyone comes through, roommates with rent, landlords with repairs,” she added.



If you want to watch a movie, no need to worry about your roommates who have six friends over tonight. If you want to go to bed early, you don’t have to worry about your roommate, who comes home at 2 a.m. as the wind from an open window slams your door shut.

Living off-campus can truly be liberating. There is basically no one to tell you how you can act or what time you should be home.

Jasmin Hernandez, junior business major at University of Colorado Denver and resident of The Regency Student Housing said:

“It doesn’t feel like you’re in public housing, there aren’t as many immature kids that you have to deal with, generally cheaper, more freedom and flexibility. The general rule of thumb is that you don’t room with friends. Trust me, I made this mistake with my best friends and it turned into a disaster!” Hernandez said.

Cost/Living Space

Auraria campus offers three housing options: Auraria Student Lofts, The Regency Housing and Campus Village. Sharing rent with several roommates can cost less than dormitory board hall. And you are guaranteed to get twice times the amount of space.

The Regency Housing is located at 3900 Elati street. Floor plans range from a single unit $675, double unit $520, triple unit $475, studio $750, to a three bedroom $1, 453 a month, which is convenient to share the renting cost if you are thinking about moving in with a roommate or two.

Campus Village is located at 318 Walnut street, and offers studio to four bedroom floor plan apartments ranging from $500 to $1085 a month.

Auraria Student Lofts is located at 1051 14th street. Floor plans range from a studio $781 to a four bedrooms $805 a month, which is another affordable option to share the renting cost with a roommate.

“Sometimes spending so much time with a person becomes difficult. It can ruin a lot of people’s friendships, but others might have better luck with it. I actually experienced that, was best friends with someone and she needed a place to stay,” Hernandez said.

“Needless to say,” she explained, “best friends doesn’t always mean best roommate.”

Ultimately, something which is an advantage for one student may be a disadvantage for another student. It all comes down to your personal preferences and affordability. After all, you will be spending the next four years of your life going to college, studying hard and building your portfolio. Might as well, make it pain-free, stress-free and most importantly, enjoy your college life experience while you’re at it.

Piece originally published in The Odyssey, theodysseyonline.com

5 Ways To Creating Your Own Personal Style

Fashion advice: Confidence is the key

Growing up, my mother used to dress me up in bright blazers. Blazers with skirts, shorts, jeans and dresses. She has a very unique taste when it comes to fashion and interior design. When I was 4 years old, she bought me my very first blazer–I remember it very clearly, as though it was yesterday. The blazer was bright pink, the inside fabric color was white with tiny pink dots. I fell in love with it from the moment I saw it. That’s when I knew that my passion for fashion had just begun. My mom used to dress me up very chic for every occasion and even for the “everyday looks.” Trust me, if you’d ever met my mother, you’d right away think she works in the fashion industry. My mother is my style icon!

Throughout the years, I wore different types of blazers, from bright colors to uniquely shaped textures. You can dress up any look with blazers and accessories, such as bracelets, cocktail rings, long necklaces and scarves. I love wearing blazers with scarves. Short scarves, long scarves–it doesn’t really matter.

I would describe my style as casual chic with a bit of rock n’ roll twist to it. Music is my number one inspiration when it comes to styling. I can pretty much listen to a song and pick an outfit based on the music and lyrics I’m listening to. What can I say, I am an artist, and we are all creatively weird sometimes.

Finding your own unique, personal style is a long road to be traveled. It does not happen just after a good night’s sleep and dream about beautiful clothes, but is an adventure that takes several years. “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year. Style is what you pick out of that fashion. It’s a matter of finding the right pieces and putting them together to create a perfect ensemble that you look and feel stylish and comfortable in,” says Denver personal style consultant, Sarah Waddell.

I’m not a style guru, no Anna Wintour, and certainly no Kate Moss, but I have lots of different phases in my early 20s where I was always totally convinced that I had found my style.

And now, a few years on, the time has come that I carefully dare to say that I have found my own taste indeed. It took a lot of embarrassing moments but my personality is best reflected in the most basic, minimalist outfits without too much fuss, but always with a little twist, like a bright blazer. Clothing is a way to express yourself every day. But how can you find your own personal style, you may ask?

1. Find inspiration

If you have no idea what to put on, and you are clueless every day for your closet, it’s a good idea to look for inspiration. Scour the Internet in search of styles that you like, street-style images that immediately bring to mind you and outfits that you can see yourself in. Then dive into your wardrobe and combine it!

2. Do not be afraid to experiment

Without trying things out, you never know what you like and do not like, and especially what is and is not beautiful at you. Try all sorts of looks, play with colors and layers, and also just go to the streets. It might be a crazy feeling, but you’ll quickly know what outfits suit you and what you do not feel comfortable in.

3. Find your signature piece

Search for a particular item, such as a leather jacket, a blazer, or a good bag that falls anywhere to combine a 100% reflection of you. This way you give every outfit your own twist and create a more personal look.

4. Shape

Know what shapes and styles of clothing do not fit well with your body and buy clothes in the right size. Too small clothes make you look bigger than you are, and loose clothing can make you disappear. If you stand facing the mirror and see exactly what features you like about yourself and what you want to show to everyone, you can much more easily put together an outfit and make choices during a shopping spree.

5. Mix and match 

Fashion is and remains a party, without rules and with a lot of freedom. Do not be embarrassed to try new things, playing with trends and occasionally stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember girls: You don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look fabulous. Just mix and match. I personally love shopping at H&M and Bebe. If something looks great on me and it costs $5, no doubt I’ll buy and wear it.

Conclusively, it’s all about having a good eye and taste in fashion. And most importantly, it’s all about confidence. To me, fashion is art. My idea of fashion is not only what is seen in the fashion shows and magazines. Fashion is about what people around the world are wearing. It’s about original style and taste. Fashion is all around us.

This article originally appeared on theodysseyonline

And re-appeared on medium

Feature | The Phenomenon Of Denver Fashion Bloggers

How Blogging has changed the Way We Search for Fashion Inspiration

For the past five years, a fashion blogging phenomenon has been taking Denver’s growing fashion community by surprise. Fashion and personal style bloggers, such as Alena Gidenko from ModaPrints.com and Karissa Marie from KarrisaMarieBlog.com are becoming the next local fashion sensations. Over the past decade, influential international fashion bloggers such as Bryan Grey Yambao, also known as Bryanboy from Bryanboy.com and Chiara Ferragni, Italian personal style blogger from TheBlondeSalad.com, have been changing the way we seek fashion inspirations for our daily wardrobe. 


Image credit: ModaPrints Facebook

With 23,000 followers and growing on Instagram, Alena Gidenko from ModaPrints.com is becoming a well-known self-made brand in local fashion scene. With her contagious quirky personality and colorful unique style, Gidenko is on her way to a promising career in fashion.

People no longer look for style inspirations in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. They seek online for original individuals with a unique taste in fashion. The blogging community has allowed an easy access to get noticed on the internet for fashion hopefuls who want to succeed in this highly competitive industry. It’s easy to start a fashion blog on Blogger or WordPress, the two popular blogger platforms. All you need is a computer, smartphone, social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram, and a decent quality digital camera and a photographer by your side to take those perfect shots.

Brands love collaborating with bloggers and some even send free samples for bloggers to review and promote on their blog posts. This way the blogger not only gains exposure in the world of blogosphere but also, the brand, which becomes win-win collaboration for both the brand and for the blogger.

The well known and loved photography app, Instagram, also plays a major role in a fashion bloggers success. Perhaps, the winner of the biggest Instagram following is Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni from The Blonde Salad. With 6 million followers and counting, Ferragni is Instagram’s most stylish “it” girl. 


Image credit: KarissaMarie Facebook

Karissa Marie is a Denver based personal style blogger, who is originally from New Mexico, now living in Colorado. Being just 5 feet 1 inch tall, Marie’s bigger than life personality and an exquisite eye for style, makes her an ideal fashion icon in Denver’s growing fashion community. Marie’s blog KarissaMarieBlog.com has 1,742 loyal readers. She has 13,000 plus followers on Instagram, which includes content ranging from look of the day, lifestyle and food photography.

To start a blog, you have to have a unique point of view, a unique personality. You have to have your own thing. There are so many bloggers out there. They’re all doing similar things. You have to find something in you that’s different from what everybody else is doing. What can you give to your readers? Can you make them smile? Can you make them laugh? That’s what’s important.

Recent rising trend in the fashion industry shows that blogging has influenced plus-size fashion enthusiasts to run their style blogs by posting daily outfit photos and points of view on the latest fashion trends on their blogs. It’s a new and inspiring approach for plus-size women who are looking for outfit inspirations online.

As fashion blogosphere grows even more in Colorado, local media are already beginning to feel its influence. Whether you are a petite-size blogger or a plus-size blogger, there are many new voices out there ready to be heard. It is just a matter of time before the Denver fashion industry starts to recognize these young stylish individuals who are waiting to get their foot in the door with their personal and unique approach to style.


Travel | My Childhood Adventures in Odessa, Ukraine

It was a hot sunny summer day in the afternoon in June 1995. My mother and I patiently waited for our train at Yaroslavsky Railway Station in Moscow. We were off to our annual summer vacation to Odessa, Ukraine, a beautiful seaport city located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. Odessa, major transportation hub and tourist destination, is known for its historical and exquisite architecture, as well as, it’s famous and largest sandy beach called Arkadia.

As we waited anxiously for our train, I remember feeling happy and overwhelmed with excitement. The blue train came shortly after we had a quick lunch at a café inside the train station named Solnechniy den’ (sunny day in Russian). We got on the train with our two small bags and headed to our compartment. There were a lot of people on the train, mostly families with small children who were also going on a vacation to Odessa. The kupe compartment was a separate tiny room with four seating/sleeping areas, two on one side and two on the other, and a small table alongside a window in the middle. I remember sleeping on a top bench of the kupe. It was my favorite spot.

It took 24 hours to get from Moscow to Odessa by train. A whole exhausting day, which sometimes felt so long that I kept asking my mother, “Are we there yet?” every half an hour. The train stopped at several cities, small villages and towns. The window view from our kupe was magnificent. We usually left the half of window open. The light breeze felt warm and gentle as the air passed softly from across the room.

I remember looking out the window and seeing grain fields, farms, cows, houses, and small colored houses. The landscape looked absolutely breathtaking with lots of greenery and beautiful Russian trees called bereza, tall skinny white birch trees with light green leaves and sharp edges. When the train stopped, the local farmers used get on train and sell fruits, vegetables, roasted chicken, bread, milk, and kwas, which is a Russian and Ukrainian refreshing iced cold beverage made from black or regular rye bread.

When we got off the train, our family friends, Olga and her husband Grisha, were waiting for us the train station. My mother and Olga had been best friends since high school. Right after high school, Olga got married and moved with her husband to the Ukraine were her husband’s family lived. Olga was Russian, Grisha was Ukrainian Gypsy. They were a very lovely couple. They used to always get along and laugh at each others jokes, which I thought was very sweet. I never once saw Olga and Grisha fighting. I did not noticed anything unusual or different between them.

They were one of the most friendly, warm, kind, and funny people I’ve ever met in my life. Every morning we used to have breakfast in their backyard, which was a big open landscape with tall green trees and pretty roses everywhere. Olga planted red roses throughout the backyard and next to the front porch. They smelled wonderful.

My mother and I used to stay at their house. They had a big gated house. Their house was dark green, with lots of windows, four bedrooms, and tiny farm right outside their backyard. They used to grow fruits, and vegetables such as peaches, apples, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce, rodish, carrots, and cucumbers. They also grew barriers, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currant, gooseberries and loganberries.

They also had lots of animals, three dogs, about six cats, and lots of chickens. I made friends with their oldest dog, Graf. Graf was a German shepherd. The kindest and friendliest dog I’ve ever known. We became friends from the first time I petted him at the age of five. Every summer when we went to Olga’s house, the first thing I did was play with Graf. When I was a child, I used to be scared of big dogs, who were my size, but not Graf. Graf was my best friend.

One life changing afternoon, Graf literately saved my life. I was playing in the backyard. Olga had a huge wide pool in the backyard. It was quite deep and scary looking for me at the time. I was seven years old back then, and did not learned how to swim yet. While playing ball by myself by the pool, I slipped and feel in the pool while try to catch the ball. I don’t quite remember the exact details, but from what I can remember now, is that I fell in the water and started crying and screaming extremely loudly. I was nearly drowning. I didn’t understand what was happening or what was going on. The next thing you know, Graf jumps in the pool, starts swimming towards me to my safety.

Then, I remember my mom screaming extremely loud. It was as if she was about to have a panic attack. She ran as fast as she possibly could towards me, jumped in the pool pulled me from the water. I still remember how scared and terrified she was. She hugged me tightly, yelled at me few times for not being careful, then started crying. In that moment of being scared and shocked, I looked at my mom and I didn’t understand what was going on. I couldn’t speak for a few minutes. It almost felt like I was losing consciousness. As this was happening, I looked to my right and noticed Graf was standing right next to me the whole time. From that day on, I knew that Graf was a special dog, a brilliant dog. I was seven years old, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. If it wasn’t for Graf for saving me that day, who knows what would have happened.

Once in Odessa, in the morning, we went to the beach. Oh, those filthy Odessa beaches! Never clean, always yucky and unpleasant. I remember Arkadia beach, the most popular of all the beaches in Odessa. It was very dirty and usually overcrowded with first time tourists, lots of families with small children. On the other hand, I remember bunch of drunken college students who had no manners whatsoever, and used to leave their trash and empty beer bottles on the sand and in the water. I remember being afraid to go in the water. I did not know how to swim. I was afraid that if I go a tiny bit deeper, above my waist, I was going to drown, thus every time I went in the water, I swam with my blue inflatable armbands that had little pink ducks all over them.

In the daytime, we walked around the city and enjoyed the warm sunny weather and the pleasant summertime daylight. The architecture and sculptures in the downtown area called Deribasovskaya, was absolutely charming beyond words. Deribasovskaya had numerous of historic beautiful old buildings, cute little cafés and coffee houses with cozy outdoor furniture. The atmosphere of the city felt like you were transported to somewhere in Europe, with its narrow street sidewalks, cute little cafes and restaurants, street vendors, and a lot of tourists. It had a very European-like feel to it. Exquisite parks and museums, enchanting little boutiques, people were always very welcoming and polite. I heard few different languages when walking by the main streets and at the restaurants, from Russian and Ukrainian, to German and English. I did hear American-English couple of times in the downtown area and on the beach. I suppose they were tourists from the United States who were visiting Odessa.

The last time I was in Odessa, was when I was ten years old. My mother and I never went back sense then. I still remember my carefree childhood days, where everyone used to be so kind, loving, understanding, cheerful and generous about one another. Life was straightforward an uncomplicated in the 1990s. Neighbors helped out neighbors in times of need. People weren’t as harsh or selfish; hasten to run after money and success, as they are today. Life had tremendous meaning to it. And that meaning was simply, humanity.

When it was time to go back to Moscow, I always felt a little sad, because leaving Odessa I felt kind of joyless and unhappy. Going back meant saying goodbye to the hot summer Odessa days, and hello to the chilly and gloomy Moscow autumn. When we were leaving, Olga, Grisha and Graf, they used to take Graf with them, drove us to the Railway Station. Once we got there and were about to board the train, Olga used to pack for mom and me a bag full of yummy goodies, such as fruits, variables, fried chicken and potatoes, fresh made bread, Ukrainian pastries, and cold iced kwas, which she used to brew by herself from scratch.

In the train, I remember looking out the window and waving goodbye to Olga, Grisha and Graf in hopes of someday coming back to Odessa again. Remembering Odessa is always a pleasant and nostalgic experience for me. I think about how life has changed since then. Will I ever go back to Odessa? I don’t really know. I suppose, if life gave me another chance to go back and experience those lovely summers all over again, I certainly would. It would be very compelling to see how everything changed since the time that I was there.

I was super excited and looking forward to our summer vacation in Odessa each year. The nostalgic memories are still on my mind to this day. Hot summer air, beautiful kind people, enchanting architecture, fascinating and captivating city, which draws you in with its Paris-like atmosphere of the city center Deribasovskaya. I remember like yesterday, that sunny summer day in the afternoon in June 1995, where my mother and I patiently waited for our train at Yaroslavsky Railway Station in Moscow. It was so long ago, so far way ago, yet it feels just like yesterday getting on-board of that light blue train, with no worries, no stress but carefree childhood moments that would last a lifetime.

Odessa will stay in my heart forever.

This article originally appeared on theodysseyonline

And later re-appeared on Medium

Featured photo by Oleksii Hlembotskyi on Unsplash

Interview | For The Love Of Fashion: Brandi Shigley’s Motivation to Success

Dreamer and doer Brandi Shigley has been motivating and transforming the Denver fashion community since 2004, when she founded Fashion Denver, a local organization that supports aspiring designers to grow their businesses. Shigley is a strong believer in “Do What You Love, Love What You Do,” which has been her number one motto throughout her creative life.

Adopted from the Philippines, Shigley grew up in Colorado in an entrepreneurial family. After graduating from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in communications, she started her first business at the age 23, designing custom handbags under her label “b.shigley design,” which led to her success both locally and internationally. Shigley has been featured in 5280 Magazine, HERLIFE Magazine, Denver Business Journal, CNN Money and Lucky Magazine.


“I think my biggest aspiration is to be a light in dark places,” – Brandi Shigley.  [Photo by Irma Laliashvili]

Irma Laliashvili: You are the founder of Fashion Denver – a local fashion community that helps young designers to pursue their dreams. Could you tell me more about what services you offer at your company?

Brandi Shigley: I feel like Fashion Denver’s role over the past 11 years that I’ve been in business has really been about connecting designers and giving them a platform to shine. As a semi-retired handbag designer, I really understand the importance of the ins and outs of being an independent designer and I want to be able to provide those services to local designers. Those services include one on one business consulting and connecting them with resources within our community to help them grow their businesses. I also do a lot of business development as well like: logo, brand development, web development, public relations and marketing. But really, Fashion Denver is about connecting and providing that platform for designers to shine.

IL: What motivated you to start Fashion Denver?

BS: I was motivated to start Fashion Denver after I moved back here from Southern California. In California I was going up to LA and San Francisco, doing different fashion markets. I didn’t see anything like that here in Denver, and this was back in 2004. There was fashion industry happening, but I wanted to bring it together even more to take those experiences from LA and San Francisco and apply them here in Denver. That’s really what motivated me to create Fashion Denver.

IL: Fashion wise, would you say Denver is the next New York, Milan or Paris?

BS: I would like to say that Denver is not the next New York, Milan or Paris. Denver is Denver. For me, being from Denver, I think it’s important that we keep our culture, and don’t try to be something that we’re not. As far as the fashion industry in New York and Milan, those places are growing. Yes, we are growing, but I want Denver to stay Denver.

IL: In 2012 you gave a TED Talk about starting your first business of designing custom handbags under the label “b. shigley designs” right out of college, which led to your success both locally and internationally. At what point did you realize you wanted to be a businesswoman?

BS: I’ve never labeled myself a businesswoman. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. At a very early age, all I knew was entrepreneurship. I only knew family owned and operated businesses. I think it’s just been instilled in me on how to be a business person. I never really was like, “I want to be a businesswoman!” It was more about doing what I needed to do, which from an outside prospective, it is a business woman, but from the inside prospective, I’m just doing what needs to be done.

IL: What is the most challenging thing about your job?

BS: I think the most challenging can be balancing life with business, because so much of what I do is who I am. For example, this year has been kind of a crazy year for me. I traveled back to my birth country. I visited the orphanage where I came from. That was pretty heavy. I’ve just reconnected with my foster sister, who met her biological sister this weekend. A friend that I traveled to the Philippines with died of a tragic motor cycle accident last month.

I think that because I’m an entrepreneur, I create my own hours. If I don’t feel like working, because I’m depressed and sad, I don’t work, which is often not a good thing, because I need to keep income coming in. I think that that’s the hardest part, making sure that I’m working enough and that I am living life enough. Oftentimes those two things cross over and sometimes it’s hard to balance that.

IL: When you went back to the Philippines, how did that experience inspire you?

BS: That experience inspired me to really understand where I come from. I grew up American. My parents are white. I’m a total white girl in a Filipino body. When I went back to the Philippines, specifically when we flew into the island of Tacloban, which is where 10,000 people were killed in a typhoon a couple of years ago – as soon as I landed and got off the airplane, I physically and soulfully felt very connected. I was like “I’m home! This is where I’m from.” That experience has really led me to want to get in touch more with my roots. Now I’m kind of on a journey to find my biological parents. With my foster sister meeting her biological sister this weekend here in Denver, and seeing those two connect, there was nothing like it. That’s one thing. As an adoptee, it might be hard for other people to understand. But I want to physically belong to somebody. I want to know “Wow! This is my blood. We share the same chromosomes.” I don’t have that. It used to not bother me, I used to be like, “Oh, you know, it’s okay, I’m my own chromosome. I’m creating my roots.” But now I want to find my chromosomes. I want to connect with my biological family. That’s been a huge life changing thing for me. Huge. I just need to make sure I stay connected to my roots and keep remembering and thinking about it and putting energy into finding them.

IL: What is your greatest aspiration?

BS: I’ve been teaching my workshop, “Do What You Love, Love What You Do,” for years. But after going back to the Philippines and going back to these villages that have nothing but seeing how rich they are in family and culture and in so many other things that we aren’t as rich, I’ve realized now that life is about doing what you love and loving what you do. Even more so, it’s about understanding what your gift is and giving it back into the world. I think my aspiration in life is in the bigger scheme of things, to be able to affect more people in a positive way to spread their light. Whether that’s through Fashion Denver, teaching “Do What You Love, Love What You Do workshop,” or traveling and volunteering. I just want to be able to keep spreading hope, encouragement and happiness.

Last Tuesday my band, I have band, called “Piper Club” and we played a concert for the homeless community and it was amazing. Just seeing, you don’t have to travel the world and go on these big missions to be able to spread your light. We can do it just through having compassion with people we pass every day. I think that often times, we as a society look away and we don’t engage, because we’re like “Ugh!” “What do you think when you see a homeless person?” “What do you think when you see something that doesn’t feel good?” “Do you have compassion or do you just turn away?” I’m really learning how not to turn away and how to have more compassion and have conversation. I think my biggest aspiration is to be a light in dark places. In whatever way that is, if it’s just striking up a conversation with a homeless person and telling him “Life is good. There is good out there,” then that’s good.

IL: What piece of advice would you give to someone considering a career in the fashion industry?

BS: I would say to find people that are doing what you love. Talking to them and interviewing them and seeing what the ins and outs are of their business. Volunteering is a huge way to get involved and to see if the industry that you want to be part of is something that you really do want to be a part of. Also, think locally. You don’t have to fly away to LA or New York. We have fashion going on here. I’m a big proponent of “If you don’t see something happening, make something happen.” I’m very big on the idea of don’t wait for an opportunity, create the opportunity. I would say, for the most part, Denver is very supportive and we have an amazing fashion community. I love talking to people when I can. I love being able to inspire people to just see like, yeah, we have fashion here, “Stay here! Let’s build it here!” Also, researching all the different parts of the fashion industry. There are many different things, from actual design to fashion show production, to marketing, to business, to journalism and really just getting involved.

This article originally appeared on theodysseyonline

And re-appeared on medium

For more information on Brandi Shigley’s work, visit http://brandishigley.com, http://fashiondenver.com and http://dowhatyoulove.us.

Featured photo by brandishigley.com

Opinion: Immigrating to ‘new kid’ status


Being the new kid in class is not always an easy situation, especially when you move to the United States from a foreign country and you have no clue what “Where are you from?” means. At least, that’s what happened to me.

It was sixth grade. I was 12 years old and had just moved to the United States from Russia with my parents. I remember my first day of middle school like it was yesterday. It was mid-September and I was the new kid in class.

Yes, the new foreign kid in class who did not speak English. As you can imagine, I was terrified about fitting in and adapting to a new culture and language. I felt uncomfortable and awkward. The only few words and sentences that I knew how to say in English were hi, goodbye, thank you, you are welcome, what is your name and cheese.

Yes, “cheese.” I’m not sure why. I suppose whenever I used to watch American cartoons and movies, they all yelled “CHEESE!” when taking pictures, so the word got stuck in my head. Plus, I love cheese.

Starting middle school, I had to learn the English alphabet and basic grammar from scratch. Everything American kids learned in kindergarten I had to learn at the age of 12. At first it was challenging to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture and traditions. Everything was so new and not what I was used to.

I walked into my math class for the first time, and the next thing I knew, kids were standing all around me, asking me where I’m from. I did not know what “Where are you from?” meant at that time.

What came to my mind was, “What are they saying?” “Are they insulting me?” I was offended without even knowing what the sentence meant. I started smiling and saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English.” The majority of the kids in class were very nice and understanding, and said that it was OK, I will learn to speak English in no time.

As the years went on, I got used to the culture and gained American friends. Each year, my English got better and better. I even started thinking in American-English, which is very interesting to me to this day. Though I must admit, critical analysis is not easy because there are still times when I literally translate what I am going to say in my head before I say it out loud. But that usually happens in formal situations.

One of my successful academic experiences so far was when I graduated from high school. After living in the U.S. for more than a decade, I realize now that education is very important in this country. Just like any other country, having a college degree makes you look professional, intelligent and educated.

When I graduated from high school, I literally felt like I was on top of the world. I felt very proud of myself. I’m thankful to all my wonderful English teachers who have helped and guided me through it all. Without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.


Piece originally published in The Metropolitan, MSU Denver’s award winning, student run weekly newspaper. mymetmedia.com