Then: In 1996, CityBeat did a feature on fashion in Cincinnati. Although the two words would seem mutually exclusive, thanks to University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP), many top designers come through here on their way to other ventures. Kelly Sparks, a native of Anderson Township and DAAP grad, was just getting started in the fashion biz in San Francisco, unsure of where life would take her. She knew she wanted to have her own clothing company and maybe move to New York. (Issue of Nov. 7, 1996)
Now: Sparks remains in San Francisco. She initially designed for bebe, where she says "raw creativity somehow emerged from the chaos of a small company," before moving on to a larger, more organized venture. She now uses her fashion sense to help the millions of women who buy Levi's Red Tab jeans. She's been at Levi-Strauss for two-and-half years and calls the transition from small company to large "interesting and rewarding."
"My time in Cincinnati was full of adventure," Sparks says. "It was a time for discovery and finding out what's really important in your life, a time of dreaming about my future. I cherish the time I spent there and miss the crazy adventures in Cincinnati's small but tightly-knit art scene. Living there also made me realize that no matter where you are in this world, there is always a community of creative thinkers who are probably crazier than you right around the corner."
Although she's moved into the more corporate world of the fashion industry, Sparks hasn't given up on having her own company. "I've set up my own studio where I'm learning hand-screenprinting on fabric," she says. "Right now, it's just play."
Ultimately, however, Sparks has learned more than just fashion in the seven years since she was profiled in these pages. "I've realized that dreams can become reality," she says. "You just need to make it happen. When I dream and don't act, nothing happens. When I act, everything falls into place."
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