100 Dallas Creatives: No. 7 Fashion Maven Julie McCullough

100 Dallas Creatives: No. 7 Fashion Maven Julie McCullough
Elliot Munoz Photography

Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

Julie McCullough says that she "stepped into" fashion design but has been blazing quite a trail since arriving in Dallas in 2001. Originally from Michigan, McCullough moved to Chicago to attend school at Columbia College. Eventually, she decided she wanted to experience something different and "packed up the Uhaul," and moved to Texas. The woman behind the yearly fashion event, The Pin Show, McCullough, while working on designs of her own under the labels Make and Folksie, showcases homegrown designers and even, at times, musicians.

The Pin Show is much different than the run-of-the-mill fashion show, often featuring not only amazing clothing, but everything from photo shoots, interesting bars and runways, hosted in various venues ranging from glamorous ballrooms to large, barren warehouses. Keeping with tradition, this year's event will take place in Deep Ellum's much anticipated new space, The Bomb Factory.

McCullough finds Dallas to be the perfect home for her clothing lines as well as The Pin Show because of the constantly growing scene of overall creativity within the city - be it surrounding music, art or fashion. McCullough calls the Dallas community supportive, and it shows considering the show is in its 8th year. The Pin Show's multi-talented team takes matters into their own hands by handing press, photography, show production, hair and make-up so that featured designers and guests can sit back and enjoy the show.

Following The Pin Show Presents: Scene last weekend at Trees Dallas, McCullough is looking forward to The Pin Show in April, as well as continuing work on her own line, Folksie, and even beginning work on a line of Chef's wear. With a new studio in the Design District, McCullough plans to continue working with other local creatives to keep Dallas' scene of fashion, art, music and design growing.

How did you get started as a fashion designer? Was it a career you always imagined in yourself doing, something you had done all your life, something you went to school for or something you fell into? Or all of the above? 
I actually went to school to study marketing and public relations.  Pretty far cry from fashion designer, but, at the time I was attending school, I took up sewing as a sort of hobby and starting teaching myself. As I began to get better, I figured I would find a more advanced class where I could learn how to sew cooler things. Unfortunately, unless I wanted to learn how to sew a house coat or something equally as enticing, there wasn't anything out there. So, in my typical over-achiever manner, I started Make in 2005 and we started having our own classes. Looking back, I realize I wasn't really that great at sewing, but I loved the designing part, so I just kept on going! I started with womenswear, but around 2012, I did a few menswear pieces, and they really resonated with me. And so, Folksie was born! I also concurrently, worked on small jobs doing samples for other lines, and manufacturing for other labels, so we have sort of grown this whole local "Made in America" movement here in Dallas.  So I guess you could sort of say I stepped into it, not really fell into.

For those of us who aren't so familiar, what's special about the fashion scene in Dallas? What sets it apart from other major cities? I feel that over the past 5 years, Dallas has really come into its own with a huge creative scene which certainly includes fashion.  When I first opened Make, I would hear so many young designers talk about how they needed to move to NYC or LA to break into the scene, and now I think Dallas is becoming, again, a place where people look for fashion.  It's smaller, easier to promote yourself and build your brand.  There is a community here that is supportive, and for any creative, your community is everything.

Tell me a little bit about The PIN Show and how the concept for it came about? 
In 2006, I had started the Urban Street Bazaar, a modern craft fair and market for all things handmade.  We had some fashion designers as vendors, including Abi Ferrin, and it was a great platform for sales, but designers also wanted something a little more fashion exclusive.  At the time, the only option was to either host your own fashion show, which can be cost prohibitive or go to a bigger city and try to show there.  My business partner at the time, who was also a designer, and I began to discuss the idea to co-op a runway show for independent designers, from emerging to established.  By culling together several designers, and us handling the production (which can be a complete money pit and a huge pain in the ass), we called in favors, brought together a team of talented stylists, hair and make up, sound and lights, photographers, built a runway in my backyard, and booked The Door in Deep Ellum for the show. We were all pretty surprised when we had over 1200 people show up. 
The show is 8 years old this year and is definitely a much more polished version of the original concept, but the platform is still the same. This year we had over 55 quality applications for 22 spots, and originally we were BEGGING for designers to fill these slots.  I believe this speaks volumes for the Dallas Creative Community, and also for the growing number of fashion designers who are popping up.

What makes The PIN Show different from your typical runway show? 
Well, much like everything I do, I don't know much about how things work, so we figure it out in our own way! The Pin Show is more like a party or a celebration, without all the sunglass wearing front row types that you normally associate with fashion shows! The Pin Show provides a platform for Independent Designers with the production level of a high end designer show and has become a way for the press to be introduced to the new lines from established designers and new talent as well.

With over 160 exits on the runway, we have to come up with new ideas every year to keep our audience captivated. We have had a live band play in the middle of the runway, a DJ 20 feet above the runway, fire truck bars, live photo shoots, abandoned warehouses, fancy ballrooms, men's underwear lines, a wedding proposal, and this year, we are planning to top it all at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum with a mix of art, music, and fashion.

The designers featured in The PIN Show - What do they have to do in order to be featured in the show? In other words, are you looking for any specific qualities, content, designs when you choose them to be featured? Are they all local or from around the country? We had 55 applications for this year's event, we had designers from all over, but most of them have a Dallas tie somehow.  First they fill out an online application and from that we narrow it down to those we like for an in person interview.  We want to meet the designers, hear their story, see the quality of work and see their sketches for their new collections.  Sometimes we think we know exactly who we want to be in the show, and then a designer will come in and just blow you away with their story and new ideas.  We also want to be sure we have a good mix of genres, so we don't end up with too many bridal collections or swimwear, etc.  They must create new looks for The Pin Show to ensure that our audience is coming to see something fresh.

The designers drop off their garments 3 weeks before the show and they are done.  The rest is up to our team.  We do all the fittings, photos, show production, press, venue, styling, hair and make-up, etc.  The designers get to attend and enjoy the show, without all the madness that is usually involved. 

One of McCullough's designs for Folksie.
One of McCullough's designs for Folksie.
Jake Toler

Last Saturday, The Pin Show presented Scene: A Fashion Concert, took place at Trees in Deep Ellum. You included several local bands and local designers. Tell me a little about why you saw it important to feature local designs/designers among local music. 
This year we had to move The Pin Show to April, due to the construction on The Bomb Factory, but our original date was always the 3rd Saturday in February. In addition, we'd always been looking for a way to celebrate some of the amazing Pin Show alumni.  I wanted to do something different, not runway, because that is what The Pin Show is, but still create something captivating, feature past designers, some of my favorite local music, as well as show people another side of the industry.  We used to incorporate live photo shoots into the runway show, so I just pulled it out and created a smaller event around that idea. Guests were able to see the collections from four designers presented in the format of a photo shoot, the hair and make-up team were also a part of the performance, which allowed people to peek inside the scene of the fashion world.  The Pin Show has become known for pairing local music over the past few years, as it is just as much a part of the runway experience and The Pin Show is a place of discovery.  We hope people who came discovered a new love for fashion, a designer, their local scene, and a band or performer.

What kinds of events can we expect to see from you and The PIN Show in the future? What do you have in the works? 
Currently I am finally focusing on my line, Folksie, as well as launching of a line of (yet un-named) Chef's wear. I worked with Cafe Momentum on their waiters and kitchen staff uniforms, and was sort of dabbling in aprons for a few years, so it seems like a natural progression.  There will be a lot of travel. My studio is now in the Design District, so we have a great location to get settled into.  I will continue to grow my Folksie brand through eCommerce, and continue to work with other creatives to help keep the local scene growing! The Pin Show will always remain a once a year show, but I hope to grow its influence and awareness into many smaller-type events that take place throughout the year.

100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser 45. Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons 44. Artistic Integrator Erica Felicella 43. Multi-talented Director Tre Garrett 42. Anachronistic Musician Matt Tolentino 41. Emerging Veteran Actor Van Quattro 40. Festival Orchestrator Anna Sophia van Zweden 39. Literary Framer Karen Weiner 38. Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy 37. The Godfather of Dallas Art Frank Campagna 36. Rising Star Adam A. Anderson 35. Artist Organizer Heyd Fontenot 34. Music Innovator Stefan Gonzalez 33. Triple Threat Giovanni Valderas 32. Cultural Connector Lauren Cross 31. Critical Artist Thor Johnson 30. Delicate Touch Margaret Meehan 29. Fashion Forward Charles Smith II 28. Dedicated Artist Carolyn Sortor 27. Political Cyber Banksy Wylie H Dallas 26. Dance Preserver Lisa Mesa Rogers 25. Rob 'Ain't No Creative Like A Bow-Tie-Wearing Creative' Shearer 24. Scholar of the Stage Susan Sargeant 23. Photographer of Record Justin Terveen 22. Music Man Jeffrey Liles 21. Keeper of the Safe Room Lauren Gray 20. Playwright Jonathan Norton, Man of Many Words 19. Filmmaker and Funniest Comic in Texas Linda Stogner 18. Gallerist Jordan Roth, the Art Scene Cheerleader 17. Artful Advocate Vicki Meek 16. Ballet Queen Katie Puder 15. Carlos Alejandro Guajardo-Molina, the Book Guy 14. Janeil Engelstad, an Artist with Purpose 13. Will Power, Playwright and Mentor 12. Gallerists Gina & Dustin Orlando, Boundary Pushers 11. Moody Fuqua, Music Community Organizer 10. Joshua Peugh, Choreographer to Watch 9. Allison Davidson, Advocate for Art Accessibility 8. Ben Fountain, Man of Letters

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