Factory Five Five brings fashionable education to Denver

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Skye Barker Maa, Founder of Factory Five Five.

Photo of the hip photo

When you see a great outfit, it’s hard to imagine the work it takes to put it together. Businesswoman and founder of the new Factory Five Five art collaboration, Skye Barker Maa knows how mysterious the process is to many. That’s why she founded a new fashion school in Aurora, the Factory Fashion Academy.

The Factory Fashion program offers a range of programs for youth and adults. One is for those who want to design and create, while another is for those who want to sew. Classes are meant to be intertwined so that students can move between them.

“You can really explore all aspects of fashion, whether it’s making your own clothes, from illustration to construction, or just learning to sew using a sewing machine, by sewing by hand or touching up, ”says Barker Maa.

Factory Five Five and Factory Fashion Academy kicked off in January, hosting a few summer courses and camps offering basic sewing classes and a Project trackstyle spin-off. It is now developing into a full-fledged fashion design school with new classes starting September 13, including tailoring and fashion and design construction, introduction to fashion illustration, upcycle fashion , making clothes, making costumes and making accessories / small projects.

The timing looks good for a full-fledged fashion school, from what Barker Maa has seen. “We started out with kids, but I was amazed at how many adults came to see us, from people who just want to learn how to cuff pants on their sewing machines at home to those who want to be professionals. Of the industry. ”

Barker Maa found herself becoming a real boss with Factory Five Five, which was born out of Neighborhood Music & Theater, a school she started by accident in 2012 after struggling to find piano lessons for her son. three years. “No one wanted to take my son, so I started music school in my basement. It went to 60 people, then 250 people, then I had to move to a commercial space. We just kept going, ”she says. The school moved to a studio and then to Stanley Marketplace in 2018. Even when the pandemic hit in 2020, they maintained in-person learning with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

That’s when the programs really took off. Factory Five Five was one of the few arts organizations operating in person, and with people in need of a creative outlet amid the isolation of the shutdown, the group was in greater demand than ever. “Our partners at Stanley have been so nice to me,” says Barker Maa. “They allowed us to expand throughout the market and use open spaces. ”

In December 2020, Factory Five Five moved beyond the Stanley spaces and opened another location on the street, expanding the music and theater programs into an artistic collaboration that includes fashion, photography and film as well as a theater. Black Box.

Barker Maa says the main goal of Factory Five Five is to give artists a place to work. “The biggest barrier for artists is having the space they need and the opportunities to network and collaborate. We hope to bring all of this together in an environment where it’s easy to find the people you need to work with.

With the recent shutdowns of Denver’s other fashion programs at Emily Griffith Technical College and the Art Institute of Colorado, Barker Maa appears to be filling the void. “I think the markets are emerging, and we are reaching this step of artists who are settling down and contributing to their local communities,” she says.

The rise of fashion reality TV shows is also contributing to a growing interest in fashion design. “In our theatrical program, we explored cosplay and costumes,” she explains. “The student came to us with pictures of RuPaul’s Drag Race saying they wanted to do something similar. We thought it was awesome.

For this reason, Factory Fashion will include a drag queen program that will incorporate elements of cosplay, classes in corset making, hair stacking, makeup, and wig maintenance and fitting.

Barker Maa recognizes Denver’s strong drag queen community, which crosses the fashion scene.

“Some of our employees are professional drag queens,” she says. “They came to me and told me that they needed tailoring lessons to make costumes. In addition, many of our youngest students show up in class in full swing. It’s a pretty exciting time in fashion. Our society has changed enough that students feel comfortable expressing themselves in this way.

The sustainable development movement is another factor leading to a greater interest in fashion design. Content creators TikTok and Instagram showcase recycled designs, reusing old clothes and turning them into new creations, inspiring people to make their own clothes by hand. So now Factory Fashion is offering an upcycle course.

“It really happened because my young daughter took my clothes that were too big for her and made them into sarong-style dresses, or she tore them up and made a skirt out of my old t-shirts. It’s pretty impressive, ”says Barker Maa with a laugh.

Click to enlarge Factory Fashion Academy.  - PHOTO BY PHOTO HIP

Factory Fashion Academy.

Photo of the hip photo

Factory Fashion also offers a mini-incubator, which provides local designers with a workspace and a small runway / event space with a full bar to showcase their work. The space includes industrial machines, cutting tables and workstations. Designers can hire directly and use the co-working style of space, or they can participate in the commercial program to teach a class or work in the supply chain, helping with tasks such as creating models in exchange for ‘a workspace.

As if that weren’t enough, Barker Maa is also presenting theatrical productions starting with “Daisy’s Day Speakeasy”, which will take place every Friday and Saturday evening in September, starting September 10th. She also plans to open Sky Bar in October, an experiential airplane-themed bar that will recall the glamorous aviation days of the 1960s.

If you haven’t guessed it, Factory Five Five takes its name from the Factory studio of artist Andy Warhol. Barker Maa admits to being a fan of 60s pop culture.

By bringing music, theater, film, photography and fashionable education under one roof, Barker Maa, like Warhol, hopes to create a ‘factory’ where artists can find the skills, resources and people. they need to make their projects a reality.

“All you have to do is go down the hall,” she said. “Collaborations are easy.

Factory Five Five is at 10255 East 25th Avenue in Aurora. For more information, visit Factory Five Five online. Fashion Factory Academy is at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, in Aurora; fall classes start September 13. Neighborhood Music & Theater is also located at Stanley Marketplace; for more information, go to Neighborhood Music Stanley online. Daisy’s Day Speakeasy takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings, September 10-25, at the Velvet Underground Coffee Shop and Bar in Factory Five Five; tickets are $ 40 in advance, $ 45 at the door. Proof of vaccination or negative COVID tests within 72 hours and wearing of the mask is required for performance.

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