Ally Smith works with My Athens as a fashion event designer, roles that enable her to showcase both established and up-and-coming local design talent.
My Athens started as an Instagram hashtag campaign featuring the local landscape and culture of Athens, and has since become a force for uniting and promoting local artists and creative professionals.
Setting Off with Dynamite
Ally didn’t study fashion or event management while at the University, but she developed a passion for both while working at Dynamite Clothing. She has great respect for Dynamite owner Lori Paluck, and learned from her how important local businesses are to a community, and how challenging they are to run.
When an image of Ally’s was selected for a gallery at a My Athens event, she got to know the organization’s founder, who was looking for help adding a fashion show to the My Athens lineup. Ally was replete with ideas, describing her vision for including local retailers and landing her the job as fashion event designer.
My Athens is Fashion
Georgia Theatre hosted Ally’s first show as My Athens fashion director. Alongside the trademark My Athens gallery, Ally coordinated with thirteen different local retail stores to showcase three looks each, and enlisted the Classic City Rollergirls as models.
After finding success at the first event, Ally quickly started working on the next one. This time she set out to feature the designers behind Athens’ local retail stores, like Rachel Barnes of Dynamite and Shawna Lea Maranville of Community. She also included young talent like 18 year-old Trevor Blake, a freshman at UGA who saw his designs on the runway thanks to Ally’s faith in his work.
“We had family and friends involved, and great community support. We wanted people to see the diversity of what was on offer in Athens, and encourage them to buy local.”
Ally is all positive energy and optimism. She describes Athens as a source of her strength, a community whose composition she finds inspiring. But if there’s one challenge Ally knows well, it’s that creative talent and good intentions don’t necessarily translate into getting paid.
There is such concentrated talent in Athens, and when we try and put something together, literally over a hundred people step forward and are asking if they can help. That’s incredible, and incredibly inspiring.
She shows the value in her work by delivering results, and her attendance numbers don’t lie: she’s adept at getting people involved and taking ownership in the mission. After collaborating on several projects with Washington Square Studio, she’s now ready to make her mark in a new way: by designing her own clothing line.