People to Watch: Creative collaborators: Amee BellWanzo and Kelli Martin

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From the August 1, 2013 edition

Amee BellWanzo already had a good thing going with Columbus Rocks the Cure when she met Kelli Martin two years ago.o — a cancer survivor, ad woman and lead singer of the punk band Black Eyed Betty — startedthrowing musical fundraisers to combatthe dreaded disease 2008.

“It was almost more like a party,” BellWanzo explained. “It kind of grew from there.”

She wanted that development to include fashion, and when she met Martin — the designer behind Anti-Label, the former owner of North Campus boutique Black Market and an ex-contestant on “Project Runway” — encountered a kindred spirit.

Martin had closed Black Market and was mulling how to pursu fashion outside the industry that left a bad taste in her mouth after “Project Runway.” She came up with a cadre of Columbus creatives called Alternative Fashion Mob.

“I tried to figure out a way that I can do what I love to do here,” Martin said,and it just slowly coincided with meeting Amee.”

BellWanzo and Martin started swapping knowledge and contacts.In spring 2012, they partnered on Columbus Rocks the Cure’s first fashion show, which interspersed fashion lines from Columbus designers with sets from local bands. That event repeated this year with further music/fashion overlap: The designers created lines based on musical genres and showcased while bands from their respective genres performed

The pair had so much fun working on those events that they decided to keep collaborating. Couture Cuisine, for instance, paired a six-course meal with six looks from Columbus designers.

The duo’s biggest triumph so far was Alternative Fashion Week, which culminated with a runway show in a Franklinton warehouse June 8. More events are coming, including a fashion show at Independents’ Day, a trunk show behind What the Rock?! and a youth fashion workshop in conjunction with Evolved Body Art and Columbus Youth Guild.

“We all came together to fulfill Kelli’s vision of this Alternative Fashion Week and then realized, ‘We don’t have to do this for just one week,’” BellWanzo said.

The ultimate goal is to start a Columbus fashion incubator in a centralized storefront, a place for designers to rent studios, host photo shoots, sell wares and more. They hope to convince Columbus designers they can make a go at it without moving to New York.

“People hide their secrets and don’t let you in on them,” Martin said, “but we want to share the wealth.”