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.

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

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.

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

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.

  VIEW FROM ABOVE:   “You can’t have as powerful reports without pictures or visual media.”    —    Suzanne Chandler   [Photo courtesy Suzanne Chandler]
VIEW FROM ABOVE: “You can’t have as powerful reports without pictures or visual media.” — Suzanne Chandler [Photo courtesy Suzanne Chandler]

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.

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 closin

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