Ron Collins Transcript

Elizabeth: [00:00:00] Welcome to Creativists in Dialogue, a podcast embracing the creative life. I’m Elizabeth Bruce.

Michael: And I’m Michael Oliver.

Elizabeth: Our guest today is Ron Collins. He is a fashion designer and innovator and entrepreneur. His company, Velve Doré, LLC, is a vintage resale and styling firm. Created in 2016 by Ron Collins, Velve Doré is redefining vintage clothing and accessories for a modern take on today’s fashion. Velve Doré provides curated collections for men and women through pop-up shops, consignment of high-end designer items, personal styling, and closet restoration. Prior to starting Velve Doré, Ron held management roles in several major companies. He also hosted events with major fashion retailers as well as trunk shows for private designers. Ron has collaborated with local stylists in the Washington, DC metro area on photo shoots and fashion shows. [00:01:00] He earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Morgan State University, where he had first class training in customer service.  Also sitting in on Ron’s interview today is the podcast’s wonderful social media manager, Erinn Dumas of Dumas83, whom you’ve heard in her own interview earlier.

Welcome, Ron. Welcome back, Erinn.

Ron: Thank you. Thank you.

Erinn: Good morning.

Michael: So we like to start off our discussions with several questions. And the first is this: in what aspects of your life has creativity had the greatest impact?

Ron: Sure. So, I actually love this question ‘cause it made me think a little bit outside of just, like, my day to day cause it’s, it can be so… we just think in a box sometimes, so you have to think a little bit outside of the box.

Elizabeth: True.

Ron: So when I think about it, the health aspect, the mental health aspect of my life, [00:02:00] fashion and being creative and styling is something that truly gives me joy. When things are not as exciting in life or not as, may seem to be going well, fashion is my outlet. It gives me the opportunity to express myself. Fully, 100%. And I really love that and I appreciate that about fashion.

Elizabeth: Sure. Our second question deals with how you understand creativity itself. So, in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s books on creativity, like Flow and Creativity, the focus is on acts that advance a particular field of endeavor, like engineering or chess or fashion. Conversely, in his book, Human Motivation, Robert Franken focuses on creativity and relationship to problem solving and communication. So, Ron, how do you personally view creativity or the creative act? As advancing a field or solving a problem?

Ron: It really is solving a problem. And I don’t think a lot of people give fashion credit in [00:03:00] that aspect. At the end of the day, it’s how we show up, it’s how we present ourselves. So when you get a beautiful dress or a beautiful blazer and you put it on and it fits you perfectly and it, you put your chest back a little bit more, you stand up a little bit straighter. So, with those things, when you have that, that confidence behind the look or that confidence that the garment gives you it allows you to present yourself in a much better form. You show up, you can show up, and you can have more in-depth conversations. You can show your personality more because you’re not worried about how you look. At the end of the day, you are presenting yourself, people see you, and then you can just shine through basically the garments.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Michael: And it, I remember an acting teacher of mine would always say that acting is psychophysical. And he was talking about how it, you have your psychology and that affects your physical behavior. But then he would emphasize that it’s also physical-psychological. And so, what you seem to be [00:04:00] saying is that you wear a certain kind of clothing and suddenly your whole psychology can change.

Ron: Yes.

Michael: And your whole feeling and sense of self-worth, or—

Ron: Yes.

Michael: —your motivation can be altered by simply what you’re wearing.

Ron: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Michael: That’s interesting.

Ron: I totally agree with that. I work a nine to five, at the end of the day, and there are some days where I, there’s not a lot of restriction on what we can wear at the end of the day.

Elizabeth: Oh, nice.

Ron: You can come as dressed up as a three-piece suit or you can wear jeans and a t-shirt. At the end of the day. I notice on the days where I wear jeans and a t-shirt, I’m, like, sitting at my desk more, I’m, like, not really engaging with people around the office. When I have on, a little bit of nicer, maybe a nicer pair of pants or a nicer shirt, I notice I’m—I don’t know, maybe I want people to see what I have on, I subconsciously, maybe that’s it—but I’m like, oh, lemme go here, lemme talk here. Maybe that’s what it is subconsciously, but I’m in better spirits. I want to engage with people. I might go get the, go to the [00:05:00] cafeteria and sit there and eat lunch versus bringing it back to my desk.

Elizabeth: Sure. Yeah, I can relate to that. I put on earrings when I take a walk so people don’t think I’m a homeless woman.

Michael: We also like to explore early experiences of creativity. And so I was hoping that maybe you could share some of your early experiences as a child, whether you’re witnessing creativity or you’re a participant in it.

Ron: Definitely, as a child—so, backstory, I was a bigger kid. I was, in high school, I was almost 365 pounds.

Elizabeth: Wow.

Ron: So, growing up, I didn’t always have the clothing, or my parents would say, okay, we can buy this suit or this shirt, but the price, we can’t buy multiple, so we’re gonna have to figure it out.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Ron: I just remember at a young age, taking a pair of scissors and cutting things, gluing things to other things to make new things. Because it was like, [00:06:00] I can’t wear this shirt again, even though I—why not? ‘Cause I’ve worn it five times. I can’t wear it six times. So how do I, okay, now it’s a short sleeve shirt, now it’s cuffed. So I learned very early how to use scissors, safety pins, and glue. Now, how did, how it looked to the outside world maybe arts and crafts, maybe, “Is that a safety pin?” But to me, I was like, I have on a different outfit. So it was—

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s great.

Ron:  —it was definitely at—and I would say that happened ‘cause, so I started school, I was in Catholic school.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay.

Ron:  So I wore a uniform.

Elizabeth: Oh sure, yeah.

Ron:  And then I got to public school, and I played sports and I was doing different activities and I was like, okay, yeah, I gotta look a little bit different today. I gotta switch this up, so.

Elizabeth: I think that’s fascinating.

Michael: So that’s how you started, that’s how you discovered fashion design?

Ron:  Yeah. Essentially. Yeah.

Michael: Oh wow.

Ron:  Without me even thinking that’s what I was doing. I didn’t even, I wouldn’t even—at that point, fashion wasn’t even, [00:07:00] I would say, a passion of mine at that time, like, necessarily fashion. It was just, I think the wanting to be different and feel different and look different was more so what I was striving for then.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s such a great story. So, Ron, what were—other than your, what you’ve just described—were there other early inspirations? Did you have mentors or were there people in your family or your inner circle who were especially chic or well dressed? Or was your family churchgoing? Did you get inspired by these incredible hats women wore to church?

Ron: Yeah, definitely. All of the above, honestly. The church I grew up in was actually founded by my great, no, just great grandparents. So we were heavily into church. And like I said, I started in Catholic school. I have a younger brother and we were in school, we played sports, and we went to church.

So before I got to high school, I had probably two pair of jeans. And I had a lot of khaki pants and shirts for school and then [00:08:00] a suit or two for church. Having those influences or going to those places, you see the adults. So going to church, I see my mom get dressed up. And what I know now is, like, she was wearing like a silk dress in black patent pumps to church. And I would look at ’em like, oh wow, I like the colors, I like the prints. I like that. My grandmother, she was the hat lady. She always had the hats. There were also ladies in church that wore these huge fur coats with the foxes. And I was just like, what is this stuff? Like what? ‘Cause I’m used to my uniform, my gym clothes, my sporting uniform and then, church clothes. So you see—and then it just opened up my whole mind to other fashion or other clothing items that could really be mine. It really was like, oh, I could, I want that. And then, nice shoes and just all of the things. So, yeah, definitely church, seeing my family.

I don’t think [00:09:00] my family would consider them themselves, like, fashionable people, but I do know and feel that they consider themselves, like, well dressed, if that makes sense. Like they would always make sure that the shoes were polished, the suit was steamed, the dry cleaning was done. It may be just like my dad would just wear a black suit, but he took it to the cleaners every time. Yeah. He pressed his shirt, things like that. So little, like, details like that I definitely have gained from just family members and going to church and growing up.

Elizabeth: So did you, are there a lot of photographs of your family all dressed in their, sort of, Sunday best? Is that a part of your memory of—

Ron: Yeah, so my grandmother, she would always, she was almost like the historian of the family. So you go to her house, she had this glass shelving and it was full of picture frames. So you could pick up the frames and look at different outfits. She had drawers full of photos, so everything—she was always the one capturing the moments, saving the photos. I think people, [00:10:00] especially now with our phones and things like that, you forget, like, how we used to get photos. Like she had drawers and photo albums and so much stuff. So yeah, definitely—

Elizabeth: Pre-digital age, yeah.

Ron: Yeah. So still having that, that access to that, to those memories is definitely really good.

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Michael: Now you went to university and earned a degree in hospitality management. And then you worked in various management positions before launching your business. Now, clearly, launching a business requires a leap of faith.

Ron: Yes.

Michael: And it’s truly an act of creativity ‘cause you’re creating something new in the, sort of, the definition of creativity. Can you talk about that decision and, sort of, what went into that leap?

Ron: Sure. So, it started as a hobby. It started as, I would go to a thrift store or I would go to an estate sale and I would see these amazing items and it may be a woman’s dress or it may be a purse or a piece of jewelry, something that I might not necessarily wear, but I was like, somebody [00:11:00] might want this.

Elizabeth: Somebody might.

Ron: So it really started as a hobby. And then I had a lot of stuff. It started to accumulate and I’m like, okay, so what am I going to do? I did my first popup shop. And it had a great response. And I was like, oh, wow, okay, there’s something here. I knew there was, like, a resale market and people would sell things, of course. That’s how a lot of businesses are just like selling things. So I knew that was an option, but I just didn’t think it was something that I wanted to do.

Michael: Could you explain what popup shop is, a—

Ron: Yeah, absolutely.

Michael: For our listeners and for me, even. I can imagine what it is—

Ron: So, yeah, it’s really that. So you think of how you would walk into, a department store and you would go and you would see a men’s section and you would see maybe jackets here, shirts here, shoes here. A pop-up shop is just that I would curate a space, I would go in, I would have racks, so it would be clothing racks and it would have the dresses, the jackets, the blazers. I would have a [00:12:00] table of jewelry, scarves, hats, just, sunglasses. Just really everything.

And I would try to do it in a way to where you felt like it was a boutique or a space where… that might always be here, in a sense. So that’s another part of, like, my creativity that just spins me. I had mannequins, I had bust forms. I was having live models. I had a girl put this on, and then that turned into a fashion show. So, I always wanted it to be an experience. Like, I always, it just grew and grew. I always wanted it to be an experience. The, the term popup shop, like, literally, and it would be a two- or three-day event. And that’s it. And then onto the next spot, and then figuring that out.

Elizabeth: So would this be in like a, an empty storefront or a community center or space in a theater?

Ron: Wherever I could afford. Or they gave me space. Yep. So it was, I’ve done it in restaurants. I’ve done it in the W Hotel, that was my big two time [00:13:00] a year event for a couple of years before they changed management. Yeah, restaurants. Sometimes outside, different parks, different festivals. At the end of the day, those vendors, that’s essentially a pop-up shop, so you kinda put that in perspective.

Elizabeth: Erinn?

Erinn: Can I interject?

Elizabeth: Interject! Please.

Ron Of course.

Erinn: As a friend of Ron’s and as someone that attended his pop-up shops, they were very immersive and you felt, like you said, you felt like you were in a department store. And so it made you want to, the way he set it up was like, it made you want to shop. Because Ron has a huge support team and group, and I’m close with his friends, so it’s like, you’re in there, you’re drinking, you’re having your cocktails—

Elizabeth: Oh, okay!

Erinn: Socializing.  

Elizabeth: A regular shopping experience.

Erinn: And so you’re having your cocktails, you’re conversing with his friends and his family members—‘cause his sister lives in this area and some of his siblings will come down for the events—and then you’re shopping. So, you’re like completely immersed in this vintage [00:14:00] pop-up shopping experience.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Erinn: It was like, it, the way he curates his events are just immaculate. And so, you always wanna go, you always wanna see what he’s offering. And so I think that was also part of the experience, because he did have it at the W Hotel. And so then it’s, oh my God, you’re at this swanky hotel.

Elizabeth: You gotta look the part.

Ron: Right, right.

Erinn: Exactly. So it was a really fun type of event.

Elizabeth: That’s great. So it sounds like it’s a set designing mission as well, that you really dress a stage as it were.

Ron: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: Hired actors to do theater.

Ron: I mean it’s basically that.

Elizabeth: So it’s a performance, it’s participatory, immersive.

Michael: Wow, that’s great.

Elizabeth: A theatrical event.

Ron: Yes. Yes. Yes. All of the above.

Elizabeth: Before we get into your company, let’s explore your journey to this creative process of working with fabric and garments and all of the above. So, what drew you to fabric as an artistic medium? Was it the feel or the texture of the textiles? Was it the way [00:15:00] they hang or move with momentum and movement? What was it? The layering of colors and patterns and textures over each other? And can you talk a little bit about that kind of artistic experience?

Ron: Yeah, absolutely. So, it really is like the feel first, but then the flow. The drape, sometimes not the drape, sometimes the structure that it can create and just all of the different just creations, almost, that you can make from a piece of fabric, a piece of cloth.

I really get inspired by colors. And then just the mixing of, like, silks and—so fun fact, “velve” the beginning of my brand is actually velvet without the “t.”

Elizabeth: Okay.

Ron: So I dropped the “t” ‘cause Velvet Doré was taken, so that’s why it’s Velve. But velvet was one of those almost like my favorite fabric ever since I can really remember. And I just love the weight of it, the. The [00:16:00] versatility, the deep, rich color of it. It was just it, that is always what drew me to it. Like the flow, just, and just how many different things you can turn into, one piece of fabric into.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Ron: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah. It’s very regal.

Ron: Yeah, exactly. Luxe.

Michael: Now you’ve talked about the, those early experiences where you take, you took your one set of clothing and then you started gluing stuff to it. And, and creating new designs, but can you maybe talk about the first time you intentionally created something that would express your identity or express who you are?

Ron: Absolutely. Yeah. The, I would say on a, on a larger, not necessarily a larger scale, but what was, like, more meaningful was my promotional shoot when I was launching the brand. That was my first time doing, like, a photo shoot. And I was new. I was like, okay, I’m gonna be my first model. So, I knew I was gonna use my clothes, I can make it work. That was [00:17:00] my first time actually doing something that I had to plan out because I wanted it to look a certain way. I wanted the brand to convey a certain aesthetic. So that was my first time that I had to say, okay, I want to look this way. I need to figure out what pieces are going to show that I’m fashionable, but that I’m also functional. That, I want it to be, like, an approachable brand, but I also want you to see it and say, “Wow, that looks really amazing. Maybe I can’t afford it, but I’m interested.” And then you realize oh, it’s affordable at the same time. So, taking all of those things into consideration. I wanted to create that shoot. And I had a really great photographer at the time. He was, this was in 2016, so he was a newer photographer at the time too. So we were able to help each other out. And he would say, “Maybe don’t pose this way, maybe look this way,” and do things like that. So it helped me when it came to putting the clothing on, it helped me figure out what I wanted to [00:18:00] convey.  

Elizabeth: Photography and fashion are sort of two sides of a similar coin. Because it’s all about presentation. It’s all about, the look and the lighting and the sort of flow of everything. And, creating a really—

Ron: He was really good at that,

Elizabeth: —a really curated experience, yeah.

Erinn: So, one of the things—so Ron and I met when we both worked in Pentagon City—and one, I think one of the things that he’s leaving out is he was always a walking billboard for himself.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Erinn: So, when I first met him, he had found this women’s sweater, I think in like Ann Taylor or something, and he wore it. And I, that was the first time that I saw a man wear women’s clothing.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Erinn: But you wouldn’t know that it was a women’s sweater. It’s just by the way he wore it. So he always had this poise and presentation of himself. And so, I know the photo shoot he’s talking about, but the way, but—and that was also a reflection of him—but it’s like he was always this person. It’s just always been in him.

Elizabeth: So you just really, it’s, yeah. So, it was always there. You just had to find the right medium for it to come out.

Ron: [00:19:00] It’s funny that she mentions that because—and I appreciate that because I, I would just wear what I liked. And not necessarily to attract business or someone that may be interested in a service or something that I may have to offer, but I would just wear what I like. So, I appreciate that. Thank you. It, cause, and I still, and that’s how I am to this day, I just, I wear what I like. And, yeah, so, and it has brought me business.

Michael: It’s interesting sort of the, the process of doing a photo shoot, I guess I equate it to, like, the process of when the audience arrives for a theatrical performance and suddenly you’re, “How are they gonna see this?” So, suddenly you have this other eye, you’re, you develop this other eye about how will people interpret it? And you might go, “this needs to be cleaned up,” or “this needs to be changed.” So how did that affect the designs in any way? Did you see, having that sort of perspective, that new [00:20:00] perspective of having an outsider see it, did that change the, did that affect the creativity? Or how did it?

Ron: It did, it did after the fact. So during and before, absolutely not. I was like, this is how I want to look. I want to convey this look. And to Erinn’s point, she said I had on a woman’s cardigan the day she saw me, one of the days she saw me. I do, I realized after I did the shoot, the male customer that I wanted to attract would look at it and not respond the way that I wanted them to respond.

Michael: Oh, okay.

Ron: Because as a man, as a gay man myself, a heterosexual man or even another gay man may look at it and say, “Oh, that’s not how I want to look.” So it was a fine balance of finding how I wanted to show myself and then also attracting that business and that customer to say, hey, I look like this, but I don’t want you to look like this. I want you to be you. I want you to have on your look, we’re gonna [00:21:00] create your aesthetic. And visually, people, I think, it’s a normal thing, they see me and they’re like, oh, he’s probably dressing everybody like him. When in reality, I don’t want anybody to look like me.

Elizabeth: This look’s taken.

Ron: Yeah, we’re gonna find something else. So that, that is something that I had to think about after the fact when it came to the marketing, when it came to certain things that I wear, certain photos that I do, yeah.

Elizabeth: How interesting. On a very practical level I’m assuming you know how to sew and I’m wondering how and when you learned to sew. As someone who’s been sewing since the eighth grade, I’m just curious as to that process because—

Ron: It’s very minimal. I have learned that the designer in me is more the creative mind than the actual act of the creation. I have the idea, the inspiration. So it is very low and I keep saying, you need to keep, you need to perfect and perfect. But where I am now I [00:22:00] like to support other people. So I do work with other actual sewers and designers and seamstresses to assist.  

Elizabeth: Okay, okay. So you’re a job creator.

Ron: I like that. I like that.

Elizabeth: An entrepreneur and a job creator.

Ron: Let’s just say that if I was to sew and make something, it would be for me only.

Elizabeth: Sure, yeah.

Ron: Because, again, it would go back to the glue. It’s okay, this works for you.

Elizabeth: I was always partial to the stapler when I—

Ron: Yep.

Elizabeth: Masking tape works.

Ron: Yep. All of them help. It’s, I went, like I said, I went to Catholic school. My mom, she introduced us to hemming tape at a young age too.

Elizabeth: Oh, right.

Ron: So we would hem and she would just iron the pants and we would go school, come back and do it again the next day.

Michael: One thing that fascinates me is the creative process itself. So I want to ask you some questions about the creative process. How does the idea move from an idea to a realized product? Are there steps? Cause in acting, there are, [00:23:00] Stanislavski, there are books on it, the actor’s method. And so, is there a methodology that you use or that you have developed over time in terms of taking an idea or an inspiration to a final product?

Ron: Yeah, absolutely. It really starts with the first conversation. So especially if I’m working with a client or a customer, client, and having that conversation on what is their actual goal, similar what I did for myself. Like, what do I want to show? What is the purpose of this photo? Are you starting a new business? Is this for a birthday? Are you celebrating something? What are we, what is the goal?

And then I also try to review photos of them when they feel like they look their absolute best. Because that’s important. Because that day they felt great. And then that’s what’s my job to look at and see what aspects of that look made them feel the way they wanted to feel.

And then I translate that into my look. So now it’ll be various [00:24:00] photos—and it can be stock photos, it can be celebrity photos—that we’ll review. Because obviously we’re all different shapes and shades of skin tone, but there are similarities. What may look good on, let’s say Halle Berry may look similar as color-wise to your skin. So you play with that a little bit.

So it’s really a lot of conversation up front. And then just discussing what is the—so after deciding like what the actual like goal is, then that’s when we create a vision board or a mood board. And we put the colors and then what we actually have available. Because sometimes—and also talking about budget, ‘cause that is involved as well. Because depending on what you want, can we have it made? Is it gonna be a custom piece? Do we have to shop for it? What do we need to do? So going through all of those motions and then definitely fittings. I try to do at least two fittings before the [00:25:00] actual event. Because you want to make sure it fits. ‘Cause at the end of the day it can be the most beautiful gown, but if it’s too big or too tight, no one’s gonna see how beautiful it is. Definitely that.  

Elizabeth: God, I love this. This is really it’s like a fashion spa for the soul. You’ve got just like therapy, but probably more effective or faster and more effective. It’s just, it’s really fascinating how individualized and customized and really deeply you go into a person’s self-image and self-identity and self-actualization. Gosh, you must have really wonderful responses from your clients.

Ron: I have been very blessed. I will say that I think that everyone who I’ve worked with—and that’s where the conversations come in, because there have been times where I show something and it’s, “Oh wait, no, that’s not actually what I want.” So then having those conversations kind of irons that out before the, the fittings. So we’re usually in a good spot.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s great. Let’s go back to your, kind of, design process. ‘Cause [00:26:00] I’ve done some costume design and I used to sew, and I would have my imagination just whirring all day long. It was just like, crank, crank, crank. So how do you, I’m assuming you go through something similar, and so my question is how do you manage the overflow? Do you capture your flashes of ideas on the page? Do you take notes? Do you sketch or write, use photo collages? How do you manage this, sort of, this overwhelming—

Ron: It’s crazy actually. If all of the thoughts and ideas were in my head, and my head grew to that size, it probably would not even fit in the space that we’re in. And I, one of my things that I’m working on just personally is trying to write things down more.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Ron: To help with just organization and just memory. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten a little bit older, my short-term memory is—

Elizabeth: Just wait, buddy.

Ron: It’s, I dunno. So I’ve been trying to write things down more. I do appreciate the screenshot option on our cell [00:27:00] phones. So being able to screenshot and save things to folders and things in my phone has helped me a lot with organization. Also engaging with people on social media, you can just DM a lot of things. So usually when I find inspiration or I have something, I try to take a picture of it and send it to where, who I’m working with or just put it in one of my folders and revisit it. So that way I’m not forgetting something or getting the, to the day of an event, it’s, “Oh my God, I forgot the tights, I forgot this.” It is a work in progress.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Detail, detail, yeah. I can relate.

Michael: I’m thinking of all the conversations I’ve overheard or I’ve had with actresses or actors after they’ve gotten their costume and they’re like, “Don’t like it.”

Ron: It affects their performance!

Michael: Oh, yeah. ‘Cause it’s, and it’s so personal. And the costume designer is like, “Well, talk to me—” but if the, and then sometimes [00:28:00] I as a director I’ve had to come in to try to negotiate.

Ron: Oh, the middleman.

Michael: Yeah. And so, I would assume that when you’re dealing with clients, some, the show is tomorrow you’ve gotten their final fitting or whatever and they have anxieties or whatever, just that dealing with people. How does creativity affect, how do you deal with that?

Ron: Yeah. Absolutely. I credit that to just the years of customer service and working in a hotel and just understanding—because a lot of that situation is the person wants to vent and they want to just say it and get it out and not necessarily looking for a response, especially if they’re a rational person and understand if the event is tomorrow and this is what I have. So then once they get all of that frustration out and just calm down, it’s okay. Then we’ll talk about hair and makeup to get them in a different thought process. “Oh, your hair and makeup’s gonna look like this. We can do these alterations on the dress or whatever the garment is to fix it.” And just try to [00:29:00] help them to understand this is where we are and we’re going to, we’re gonna make it work. And it is just, it’s just having those conversations and staying and staying calm and not taking it as a personal attack on me.

Because, working in a hotel, I used to manage the front desk for a Hyatt in Atlanta, and it was very busy. Very crazy. And, people traveling, long day, you get there, and you say, “Oh, we’re actually, we’re sold out.” Or “We’re booked.” Or “We don’t have a room.” Or “There’s no parking space.” So you develop this muscle of that empathy and understanding and that compassion to say, “Hey, if I were you, I would feel exactly the same way.” So developing that, it helps people calm down and realize, okay, we can get through this.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like the nervous bride or something.

Ron: Yeah. Oh, God.

Elizabeth: I don’t know if you’ve worked weddings, but—

Ron: I have not worked with a bride. I’m not, I dunno if I’m there yet. I love the dress, but I dunno if I’m there yet.

Michael: I imagine that you create or have been creating a community of [00:30:00] people around your designs. I’m using my theater experience where you create, sort of, people that like your shows and like the themes of your shows. And in terms of creating—and I guess this feeds into the events that you create, because, again, an event is building community—can you talk about the creative process that goes into building a community, so that people belong, this sense of belonging and thus, obviously it helps sales too, right? If you belong and you want to have the clothing that is being produced, or you want to absolutely attend the events.

Ron: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. That really, I believe, starts with a good foundation on knowing who you are and knowing what your style aesthetic is and your aesthetic is in general. That’s even included in the services that you provide, right? So, knowing who you are and what your brand is very important to that because then that is what the community will be attracted to. So I think having that foundation is amazing.

Also, you want to [00:31:00] find the need. Maybe there’s a need that people aren’t seeing or aren’t, they don’t have. And that’s why I love, like, the vintage clothing aspect of my business. Because it’s one of one or it’s a very like rare piece. So people get excited about that and it really draws them in and I love to think that I have a good mix of this in my personal wardrobe of like vintage and like current modern clothes. That’s how I prefer to style people as well. You develop those relationships. So they may not be a vintage lover, but they love that piece that you have curated or they love that your, the way your mind works.

Yeah, really just going back to knowing who you are, knowing your brand, and that will automatically create, people are gonna be drawn to you. And you have to be okay with knowing that everybody is not gonna be your customer, your client, your community. Everybody’s not gonna be that, which is okay because it just means that the people that [00:32:00] are attracted to you are the ones that are there to truly work with you, shop with you, partner with you.

Michael: Earlier you were talking about, like when you did your first photo shoot, you were just showing your clothes and your identity and then after that, you begin to realize, okay, there are people that like it but they don’t want to dress, and I don’t want them to—so I would assume that the community comes out of people that like it, but don’t, don’t want to be exactly that, but being in that same sort of sphere—

Ron: Exactly.

Michael: The sphere expands a bit to encompass different, more variations on that.

Ron:  Yeah, no, totally agree with that. Yeah. The, the people that, that like it, they watch a little bit and just see. So I, what I’ve learned to do is show the variation. So maybe if I do have on—and what I try to teach people too is because I have on this particular blazer, maybe it’s a woman’s blazer, maybe it’s a men’s blazer, you could be a woman or a man and find something very similar color-wise, shape-wise that could work for your [00:33:00] body. So it’s more of an inspiration that I want convey versus, I don’t wanna say copycat, but maybe it’s a copy. It’s more of the inspiration of the look, the color scheme of the look the shape of the look. Just things like that. It’s more of the inspiration.

Elizabeth: Let’s talk some more about kind of the look or the, sort of, landscape, this kind of continuum of looks. As Erinn, our good friend Erinn has really raved about and admired, admires the way you mix patterns and textures and colors and fabrics and you might have, for example, a stripes with a floral pattern. So, it’s very unique. And so can you talk a little bit about your creative inspiration in blending and breaking, if you will, breaking these rules about visual categories. So talk some more about that.

Ron:  Yeah, absolutely. I really started doing it, it was just like fun. It was just like, let me just throw this on and just see what sticks. You know what I mean? It’s, I don’t know, let me just, just do it. And then I really started to see it [00:34:00] as more of that creative process. Because it’s not like you’re just throwing it on. I think that it’s important when you’re mixing prints to look at the color scheme first. Maybe the shirt is a floral print and it’s green, purple, and pink, right? And you want to have some fun pants on, maybe it’s a stripe and it’s like a black, green and purple. So it’s like a similar color palette. But it might not be the first thought you have when you put a look together. So I always say go with the color scheme first and try to match the colors. And then you want to insert a breaking point. So is that your shirt tucked in with a belt? A solid belt. Are you wearing a blazer, a solid blazer or vest? Something over top? Because then it tones it down, even though it may feel busy, that break in that solid pattern will tone, tone the look down. I really enjoy [00:35:00] doing it because it helps you use more of your wardrobe without trying to go out and buy more and more. You when you mix patterns and prints, you can create more looks out of those.

Elizabeth: I love that term “breaking point.” That’s a, that’s, I’m gonna use that in my life. My life does not have a breaking point.

Ron: Yeah, you need it.

Michael: Now we’re in the, we’re in Washington, DC. We’re in the epicenter of power. And at least historically, it’s a very traditional look. There’s only a certain kind of look that’s acceptable, at least publicly. And your style is disruptive of that. It’s gender bending. It sounds like you’re, you’re playing with gender in many ways. And at some level some of your community maybe doesn’t wanna go quite as far as other parts of your community. But you’ll find the correct balance. How do, can you talk a little bit about just how you deal with sort of the, whatever the power center is and whatever their perception of the look is? [00:36:00] How do you play with that and how do you interact with that?

Ron: Yeah. It’s funny because I used to always say, women get all of the clothing. They get everything. They have so many options. There’s so many things, there’s so many this, there’s so many that. And I really took that and ran with it a little bit.

Thrifting is a great way to, to live. I do recommend that to everyone. It’s sustainable. You find really great pieces in the thrift store. So what I did initially, I saw a women’s blazer and it was a plus size. It was a bigger size. And I was like, okay, maybe let me try this on. It was a straighter cut. So there were no darts. There were no anything that would necessarily say it was a women’s blazer, except the buttons obviously are on a different side. That’s how you know. But if you don’t know. If you don’t know, now don’t tell anybody. But you now you know my secret. So I bought it and it was a simple, it was like a simple plaid, [00:37:00] like, tweed feel to it. It was nothing that was like crazy. And I got so many compliments on the blazer from men and women. So I was like, okay.

Michael: “I like this button on the—”

Ron: Yeah, yeah.

Elizabeth: So much easier to button that way, why don’t we do it that way?

Ron: Now the problem is now I do it so much, it’s, I’m like, “Okay, wait. Okay, yeah.” I have to figure it out when I’m on the right item. So it took a snowball effect. And I say that to say yes, there are some times when you’re gonna know that is a woman’s item on a man at the end of the day. That is that. But learning my body type and knowing how to shop for certain items, I do enjoy mixing men’s and women’s clothing on my personal self because you get more variety, you get different colors, different patterns, and it’s not something that’s just always known to the eye. Just because a lot of women’s stuff is cut and nipped and fitted, but then a lot of women’s stuff is [00:38:00] straight down. They even have things like boyfriend cut jeans and at the end of the day that’s styled to be more of a men’s fit. You just really have to learn like what works for your body type. It’s not something that I recommend for all everybody, but if you wanna play with the style and play with the gender, it’s fun.

Elizabeth: It seems like in some ways your fashion sense is really a disruption. It’s dissent. It’s almost, it’s a departure from the very conventional, notoriously conservative look at this federal city of Washington, just full of lawyers and politicians. And people who have to walk a very narrow path. Do you see yourself as a, as a disruptor? As someone who’s shaken up this very stodgy federal city?

Ron: I would’ve, I don’t necessarily think I thought that, but yeah, I’m very much wear with you, wear what you want. When appropriate, also. If I had a meeting and I was going to meet someone on the Hill, would I wear [00:39:00] what I would wear to go out for brunch or happy hour? Probably not. But it’s still gonna have a twist, I always encourage that because it’s fun. It breaks it up. And just the way that the world is moving right now, it’s like we have so many other things to stress out about. Why are we caring that I have on this skirt? Like why?

Elizabeth: So to elaborate on this kind of democratizing fashion that you’re talking about, you compose looks for people, as you’ve said, of all shapes and shades and sizes, et cetera, et cetera. So, can you talk a little bit about your creative vision in this quote, “democratization of fashion?” So it’s not just for tall, skinny, pale bodies. As a short person, I wanna hear more about that.

Ron: Yeah, no, so I, I know—I was gonna say, I think—but I know when I was, like I said, when I was younger and a bigger kid, there were even less options than there were now. Wanting to encourage people through fashion and usually [00:40:00] people who don’t have an easier time, maybe more petite, maybe more curvy, just different people, to show you can still be fashionable, you can still be current, and it fit your body type. That’s really my goal with anyone, whether they want to look very Capitol Hill or if they want to look, like, U Street. I don’t know. Whatever you wanna give, we want to create that, but also show you that there are options, being whatever size and shape you are.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, you, you brought up the, people criticizing the skirt. Which sort of, it’s the fashion police. And there is a, there is a segment of, I guess the fashion world that it does come across as judgmental in that way. When Joan Rivers had the famous show, the Fashion Police where she would go through the celebrities and she would make fun of certain looks. One, have you experienced people, have you experienced that judgmental attitude? And how do you deal with it creatively? ‘Cause obviously would, it could, interrupt, affect your creative flow, [00:41:00] et cetera.

Ron: I have not experienced it directly to my face. Walking by—now, now what I will say is when I’m in stores, retailers and I might try on a women’s item or be in the women’s section and I do get stares and eyes and “Is he shopping for his mom or—?” Yeah. “What’s going on?” It’s, but no one has ever been disrespectful or rude. So I am grateful for that. ‘Cause I do know people have to deal with that. So I’m grateful that has not happened to me. Personally, I feel like the way I put looks together for myself, I think that people have shown more appreciation for that because it’s something that they would’ve never thought of. Or they were like, wow, that works for you. Or, just different responses, but no, no negative responses.

Elizabeth: That’s interesting. It almost sounds like the people with a fashion sensibility appreciate innovation. They appreciate risk taking, they appreciate the unique [00:42:00] look. And if you put together a unique enough look, you can sidestep whatever blowback you might get for not following certain very rigid rules and stuff. So that’s actually great advice.

Ron: Yeah. Yeah!

Elizabeth: You wanna avoid criticism—

Ron: Just do it! Just do it, yeah.

Elizabeth: Oh my gosh.

We talked a about the gender bending aspects of your clothing, but I also wanna ask you about your use of vintage clothing, which I love. I used to in my actor days back when I was a young person, I would, I would almost exclusively wear these wonderful vintage dresses from the forties. ‘Cause they have wonderful material that just hung so well. You don’t wanna get it wet because it’ll shrink. Please don’t get caught in the rain. But anyway, so, can you talk a bit about vintage clothing as history? As these kind of time capsules of an era? And everything that goes into that era? Whether it’s a corset or some other type of article that really [00:43:00] contains a lot of history of the social mores and the conventionality. So I’m interested in how you revisit and re-energize these pieces and compare and contrasting with contemporary values and freedoms.

Ron: Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t always appreciate vintage clothing. When I was younger, like I said, my family would always be dressed up and so well dressed. My uncle, he would always go to tag sales and garage sales and thrift stores and come back with just crazy-looking stuff. And I would just always talk about him so much. I’m like, why are you buying that? It’s used, it’s old, it’s this, it’s that. And then here we are 25 years later and I’m, like, can’t get enough of it. And I, I tell—he just celebrated a birthday—and I just always tell him, I’m like, “I just appreciate you so much for always having these pieces and taking such great care of them so that way now we can still wear them and use them and be functional in them today.”

So I think it’s really important that [00:44:00] these, these garments, these items have stories and you just never know. So I do appreciate looking up different brands, different tags over a certain amount of years have changed. This tag may be from the sixties, but this other tag is from the eighties. So just learning little things like that, I appreciate that. And it also helps to sell the item. Because it, it gives the person that fantasy or that, that story of oh, this was, this could have been, I don’t know, anywhere, Studio 54. Somebody could have had something similar to this Bob Mackie piece, like I found a, Bob Mackie did a line with HSN in the late ‘90s, 2000s which you see a lot of. So it’s, oh, okay, Bob Mackie, Bob Mackie. But I found a piece that was this, like, chiffon robe with this metallic striping tag was like, all it said was “Bob Mackie” on it and I was like, this has to be something. And it was from the sixties, and it was, like, beautiful. It was [00:45:00] beautiful. And just seeing, having stuff like that and just being able to show it to someone and say, and just to show them the difference in the tags and just the quality of the item. This item has been here 50, 60 years and look at it, it’s still amazing. It’s still, it’s still amazing.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Still in one piece. Yeah. That’s another part of the fashion.

Michael: And do you ever, do you ever take a piece of fashion, vintage clothing and update it or alter it in a way that sort of—I can, in the theater world, say the director could want the show in the 1920s, that style, but then have it relate to a contemporary audience so they might maybe change some of the colors or change some of the, keep the shape of that, but then put in more modern fabrics or something. Yeah. Do you ever play with that kind of—

Ron: Yes. Yes to the alteration part but not to, like, adding to it. So what I’ve done, ya’ll remember, like, the eighties prom dresses and the big poofy sleeves and things like that? Now [00:46:00] I’ve had them cut like almost into a jacket or like a duster robe situation, right? So you like, wear it almost like a jacket. So I have one in the shop now that’s gold lamé with lace, but I had to turn it backwards so now the lace is on the back and it has the peplum on the back. It’s, like, really nice. It is just like a fun piece that you could wear with jeans or you could wear with some nice pants and a shirt and it’ll be that conversation piece. So I alter it in that way. Maybe some things I get shorter, sometimes the lining I have taken out because maybe I want more of a sheer look. Just different things like that. But I have not done too much mashing the two. If that makes sense.

Michael: Yeah, sure. Now, and the next question relates, again, keeping it in the realm of theater, ‘cause I’ve played parts where—I’m not a suit wearer, but I’ve played parts where I’ve had to wear a suit. And sometimes if I got the mic during the dress rehearsal, which is three or four days before the performance, the first audience, just wearing the suit, [00:47:00] suddenly it’s, “Oh, I never realized that about my character.” In other words, the suit actually changed me.

Ron: Yeah, I love that.

Michael: So it’s not even, it’s not an expression of necessarily me—

Ron: Right.

Michael: —Michael, but it is an expression of an inner me. And that’s what an actor does, you’re bringing out a certain quality.

Ron: Absolutely.

Michael: Yeah. I can play a guy in a suit. It’s not who I identify with, but have you had clients that want to basically maybe assume a certain kind of persona for an event?

Ron: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: That, and they want a piece of clothing that’s really gonna bring that out and gonna help them step into that role?

Ron: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. I mean that, that same thought process of I want to look like and feel like Jennifer Lopez today. Like, how are we gonna make you feel like Jennifer Lopez today? What are we gonna put on you? We’re gonna get hair and makeup in here. You’re not gonna look like her, but how are we gonna make you feel like her? So I definitely think clothes do that. You can really be who you want to be, at the end of the day. You can be—like I talked about going into the [00:48:00] office some days. I might, I can wear and nobody’s looking at me, like, oh, is that just a t-shirt? Nobody’s looking, I have tattoos. Nobody’s looking at me any kind of way. But how is it making me feel that day? You can put on really anything and create that persona for yourself.

Elizabeth: Extending this whole persona thing, I was looking—I’m not a fashionista like existing company, present company, Michael excepted, of course. But I was looking at images from the 2023 Met Gala. Which I think is the big, huge fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of New York City. And doubtless, you know much more about this event than I do, but to an outsider, it’s like an enormous costume parade that has handpicked celebrities wearing these larger than life, really over the top outfits that are created by all these top designers. So, can you talk about either this event or others like them in the fashion world, and is it artistically freeing? Do you [00:49:00] imagine for a designer like you? Or does it mean something else?

Ron: Yeah. I think what I appreciate about the Met specifically is that they do give a theme. So that is good and bad because when there’s a theme, people are gonna [claps] make sure you’re hitting that theme. There’s, that’s actually the goal, right? You want to convey the theme, but you also, as a designer, as a different brand, you need to show yourself through the theme. So, freeing absolutely, because you have that creativity. But it is also a little pressure. Because this year was Karl Lagerfeld’s theme. Theme was Karl Lagerfeld. And that’s a huge name to live up to. He’s done so much for the fashion industry as a whole. And I, I would love to have styled and designed for a person to go there, but I also like, I can only imagine the stress that some of these big brands and designers because they had to really step it up. But I appreciate it [00:50:00] because it shows like the true creativity of you merging your brand with the Karl Lagerfeld theme. Like one of the looks Anne Hathaway, she was styled by Versace. And I always—and Karl Lagerfeld was the creative director for Chanel—so a lot of the things that I style for women in general, when I’m styling women, I always in my mind have Chanel and Versace together. So when I saw her look, because it’s that classiness of Chanel, but then that edge and that sex appeal from Versace merged together, and I think it was, that was like my favorite look of the night. Just because it was done so well. Anne Hathaway is a just a beautiful person. She’s a great actress, I love her. And just seeing her in the dress, it was just like—

Elizabeth: I gotta go look up this dress.

Ron: I, I think I probably have a screenshot. I’m like, I sent it to a few [00:51:00] people so I know I had a screenshot in here somewhere.

Michael: You were also engaged in, what, something called upcycling. And I want you to definitely define what that means, but also repurposing. Could you maybe just give some examples of your, of those practices? And the designs in that area?

Ron: Yeah, for sure. So repurposing definitely would be like, what I was saying about the eighties dresses, maybe cutting them down the front or the back, just depending, making that jacket or just the statement piece. And you repurpose it to be more and more every day versus a formal event. I also do a lot of, like, the vintage sequin dresses that we love, taking the lining out of them. So then it makes it like almost like a sheer top. So it can play depending on the sizing and the fit. Are you wearing this on a vacation and you’re on a yacht and you just wanted something really sparkly and shiny, but now it’s late enough that you can wear it in the summertime.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay.

Ron: Something like that. And then upcycling is huge right now, just across [00:52:00] social media and just people in general. What you said, merging the, merging multiple fabrics. So like a lot of denim is huge right now. Camouflage is huge right now, so people are doing crazy things with merging camouflage print and denim. I’ve seen, jackets upcycled. I’ve seen bows created out of the fabric, put on jackets. So really that’s a big thing. Silk is not what it used to be. So vintage silk is very appealing to a lot of people who shop vintage and things like that. So when I try to find silk, even if it’s not a style of an item, I do try to reach out to some other, like, up-cyclers and say, “Hey, I have this silk” and they jump right on it. And just to create other pieces with it.

Elizabeth: So men’s ties are often made of silk, so people use them either to create some kind of accessory or handbag or—

Ron: Yeah. Earrings. I’ve seen that type of fabric cut and made into these button [00:53:00] earrings. And it’s just, I mean it’s really, people are, people in general are very creative and with fabric and these pieces that we just would discard because we’re not, like, a wearing a tie.

Elizabeth: A sustainability vision in—

Ron: Yeah, yeah, that’s huge.

Elizabeth: Keeps ’em out of the landfill. Gives ’em new life. And can keep going around.

I wanna switch gears and just briefly talk about your, your work at Capital One. And I’m invested in Capital One because in my previous work, leading the arts program at the community-based educational organization, CentroNía, I collaborated many times with the Capital One corporate art program, which displayed our children’s artwork in their employee dining room, which is a beautiful space. And through that relationship I got to visit and admire the incredible corporate art collection that Capital One headquarters in Tyson’s Corner has. So, I don’t think this is a standard in the corporate world to have such a robust corporate art program.

Ron: Definitely not. [00:54:00]

Elizabeth: I’m wondering if being around so much exquisite art by incredible artists, both locally and from around the world, has an effect on your ,your professional environment and if it fuels your imagination and your visual, just your visual leaps of fancy.

Ron: Absolutely. I actually work in the team that the art program reports to.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay.

Ron: When I saw that question, I was like, oh, this is ironic and coincidental all at the same time. So, I get to see a lot of the art options before they’re, like, selected. Just—and I’ll back up a little bit—I didn’t necessarily know how much I enjoyed looking at art. Sculptural art paintings, drawings. I just didn’t, I, it was not something that I would say, oh, like I, let’s go to an art gallery. That wouldn’t be, like, my first thought to go. I’d probably say go to the mall or something. But [00:55:00] it wouldn’t be my first thought. But now that I see it and I see the levels of it, the scale of it that, how massive some of these things can be or then how small some of them can be and how detailed and intricate. So it really inspires me a lot ‘cause to me, when you see the art, it adds to that print mixing and adding that patterns and colors. And you see an artist that are actually using these colors and creating these colors and you are like, “Oh, this could look good on me.” Like this color combination could look good on me. I also appreciate the, the architecture and the lines. I’m not sure how recently we just opened a third, the third building.

Elizabeth: Oh, okay. I haven’t seen that.

Ron: And it’s, yeah, it’s brand new and it’s very nice and it’s, you walk in and it’s, am I in—I know we’re in 2023, so I’m like, is this 2050? It seems that far, it seems, like, futuristic more than, like, where we are now. So you think of the future and you just see—it’s like lines and you can see through the [00:56:00] windows and things like that. And then to your point with seeing the art, you can really see the art. There’s a huge ribbon display. Like we’ll have to connect and like you come up and—

Elizabeth: Yeah! Field trip!

Ron: —and see it. You would, yeah, I was gonna say you guys would love the new building, you would love it.

Elizabeth: That would be great.  That would be great. Yeah. I’m officially retired from CentroNía now, so I don’t have that connection.

Ron: That connection? Oh, we have a new one now.

Elizabeth: There we go.

Michael: So we’d like to conclude our interviews with a meta question. And this is the question that really has inspired this whole podcast. And that’s the role that creativity plays in the shaping of who we are as people, as individuals, and as, ultimately, as society. I see it as the screenplay writer of the character’s narrative arc, the journey that each of us is on, and how we change and shape. And a lot of our discussion today has been about you put on a certain kind of clothing and suddenly discover something new about yourself, or you realize, you’re able to realize something new about yourself in the world. So maybe if you could just talk about the role that creativity has played in the [00:57:00] shaping of who you are since you first started playing with your clothes, to now you’re designing clothes for people, et cetera.

Ron: Yeah. So…it really has helped me be more confident. Just the role of creativity in my life. It has been an outlet for me when I didn’t know what else to do with my time in that moment or that period in life. Being creative, using clothing, using fabrics, using my time and energy to, like, focus on something, to, from creating a thought for then to becoming a, like, realized actual item that I can hold and touch has really inspired me, like, just to keep going and keep striving. Of course, there are gonna be days where it’s I don’t feel creative, right? Or I don’t, I’m not feeling it right. Social media is huge right now. I’ve been, making my way through this content creating and trying to be more active on social media. I took almost over two months [00:58:00] off from just creating content and that’s where I would actually showcase my personal style. And I just wasn’t feeling it. Like I wasn’t, I don’t know what it was. It was just like…I, I know what it was. My shop has been taking a lot of my time and energy with that. To create the content to put on some clothes and turn around and jump in front of a camera wasn’t what I was trying to do. But I, at the back of my mind, I’m like, you have to get back into that because that’s what’s drawing people to you. Going through the motions sometimes with the creative process, it can be difficult. But I’m grateful for it. It really has brought me to where I am today, just in life, and I just appreciate life so much more. Just having the creativity or being able to be creative is really what has helped me.

Michael: And it made me think, if you were to lay out your various creations you’ve done over the last 20 years or whatever, could you chart—what would you say? Would there be like a timeline of this is who I saw myself as [00:59:00] when I was this. And then you can see yourself in how you changed?

Ron: Absolutely. I think earlier on, and I would say, yeah, like, I was not the risk taker, like, that I am now. Because I would be concerned with people saying something, filling away. Now it’s like I’m going for it. I’m going for it. You know what I mean? ‘Cause what’s the worst that can happen? And I always remind my clients and customers, it’s only clothes. You gonna take it off and you can put the sweatpants back on. Like it’s gonna, I think people get very, I don’t know the word to say, but it very nervous or…

Elizabeth: Uptight?

Ron: Uptight a little bit. Like when it comes to—

Elizabeth: It just clothes.

Ron: It just clothes.

Michael: Nothing’s chiseled in stone.

Ron: Exactly. It’s ok. Like it’s okay—

Elizabeth: It’s not permanent.

Ron: So just do it. So that’s one of my models now, just, I just do it.

Elizabeth: That’s leads us into one of our final questions, which we let to ask all of our guests is if they would give our [01:00:00] listeners some really practical advice about how to nurture and sustain their own creativity. So you’ve given us a lot of great advice, is there anything you’d like to add for our listeners to take to heart about how to just sustain their own creative lives?

Ron: Yeah. I would say nothing is too small. Right? There’s no, everyone is not going to start off with this over-the-top end result. Or whatever your end result is, it’s not gonna be that at first, but it will be that you just have to keep pushing through, keep going, keep trying new things. There’s nothing finalized. Like you can always make edits and changes. And one thing I do appreciate about just the social media aspect, of course, everything you do is gonna be there, but things happen so fast, nobody’s even gonna remember how it looked a week ago. They’re gonna, they just care about what’s happening in that moment. So just keep going. [01:01:00] No matter how small, just open up that creativity.

Elizabeth: Wow. Good advice. Speaking of social media, we also wanna give you a chance to tell our listeners about your website, other events that are coming up, other kinds of consultancies, how listeners can learn more about you and your work.

Ron: Absolutely. Yeah, my big thing right now is my shop. I have opened a store. It is appointment only right now. It is located in Hyattsville, Maryland. So definitely you can contact me via email or Instagram. My Instagram is shop_velvedore and my email—

Elizabeth: Can you spell Velve Doré?

Ron: Sure, yes. So it’s shop, s-h-o-p, underscore Velve Doré, v-e-l-v-e-d-o-r-e. And you can contact me there directly for any styling questions. I do have a website as well. My website is a work in progress. And I say that it is up, it is fully [01:02:00] running. You can contact me definitely, if you need to contact me through my website, definitely contact me. What I am working on, and this is a goal that I’m currently—and this is why I say keep going—I’m trying to get more items available for purchase on the website. But you can definitely contact me via the website, via social media. I do in-store events as well.

So, one thing about my space, I have multiple rooms that I want to create for, or I want to allow other small businesses to come in and do a pop-up shop. The benefit to doing it at my showroom is that it can be a two-week pop-up shop. It can be a 30-day pop-up shop. We can negotiate different things. Because I remember when I was doing the pop-up shop, you can imagine me doing this elaborate setup for two or three days is a lot of work. So one thing I appreciate about the space is now I have the access to invite those smaller [01:03:00] businesses in and say, hey, you can set up in this room for 30 days. You can put your rack here, it’s secure, it’s insured. We’re gonna make sure that we have everything set up for you. You can have clients come in. I have access to a refrigerator space, so, it’s a really, like, creative space. Like I want it to become a creative space, like, an incubator type space for small businesses in the area.

Elizabeth: And Ron, what is actually your website’s url?

Ron: Yep. So it’s

Elizabeth: Okay.

Ron: Yeah. So, “shopvelvedore” so same spelling, just minus the underscore.

Elizabeth: Okay, so, people wanna reach you. Instagram or website.

Ron: Or website, yeah.

Elizabeth: Okay. Fabulous. This has been just so exciting.

Ron: Thank you so much.

Elizabeth: You’ve made a poorly dressed person such as myself inspired. Anyway, again, our guest has been the deeply creative designer and entrepreneur, Ron Collins and our good friend in social media [01:04:00] manager Erinn Dumas of Dumas83. So, thank you, Ron.

Ron: Thank you both.

Michael: Thank you, Ron.

Ron: Thank you for having me.

Elizabeth: Thank you so much for generously sharing your time and insights with Creativists in Dialogue.

Tremendous thanks to all our listeners. To those of you who are free subscribers, please consider becoming paid subscribers so that Creativists in Dialogue can continue bringing you insightful conversations about creativity from Washington, DC and beyond. Thanks.

Special shout out to Creativists in Dialogue’s production team: Audio engineer Elliot Lanes, social media manager Erinn Dumas of Dumas83, and transcription editor Morgan Musselman. Thank you all.

For more information about Creativists in Dialogue, please visit or our Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn pages. To learn more about our other projects, please visit or This project was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and subscribers like you. Thanks.