Job Envy: Saskya Emmink-Byron
46, Founder of Fashion Lab
She’s a die-hard fashionista and an artist all rolled into one—blurring the line between art and fashion through Craft Alliance’s Fashion Lab. Even while serving as a major staple on the local fashion scene, Saskya Emmink-Byron also manages to keep up with her day job as development and communications director at Craft Alliance. We rest our case.
HOW SHE STARTED FASHION LAB I founded the Fashion Forum in 2001, which was incorporated in 2003. Like Fashion Lab, the Fashion Forum was a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to fashion as an art form. With the help of Susan Sherman, we were able to breathe new life into the Fashion Forum and bring it back at Craft Alliance as Fashion Lab—a perfect fit considering fiber is one of the major craft media and the medium pur sang for fashion. Through the Fashion Forum, which I started with Washington University Professor of Fashion Jeigh Singleton, there was already a strong relationship with the university’s fashion department, which has continued with Fashion Lab.
EDUCATION/TRAINING I graduated from law school in Amsterdam and pursued a career in criminal law; however, I’ve always been interested in fashion. From the moment I could talk, I made known what I liked to wear and, more importantly, what I didn’t like to wear.
BEST WORK DAY EVER When I get to meet the people I admire or when I discover a really exciting new designer or artist.
WHY HER JOB ROCKS I get to work with wonderful people and meet very interesting and creative talents. Because we explore fashion as an art form, it’s not limited to the fashion world, but extends into the art world—which opens up an entire universe of possibilities.
TYPICAL DAY There’s no such thing, I’m afraid. Fashion Lab is a labor of love. My main job is development and communications director at Craft Alliance, which means I do anything from meeting with funders, writing grants and planning events to researching new designers and artists.
PROUDEST MOMENT When I convinced Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology to come to St. Louis to give a lecture and be the guest of honor at our gala. I truly admire her, and she turned out to be such a wonderful human being, as well.
ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED BY People probably expect that anything to do with fashion is glamorous, but I can pop that bubble right away. Sure, it definitely has its glam moments, but there is a lot of decidedly unglamorous work that’s needed to make things happen—like picking up guests from the airport at the crack of dawn, setting up for a lecture or cocktail reception or taking care of all of the logistics of an event. Of course, I get to be there for the good parts, as well!
FAVORITE FASHION INDUSTRY ANECDOTE It’s always fun to know that some big fashion moments began in St. Louis, like Kimora Lee and junior sizes (the odd sizes).
THE BEST THING ABOUT FASHION IN STL The people in St. Louis are not jaded; they’re still excited about fashion. Most people have traveled a bit and know what is out there. They are open to experience new things and are ready for it.
GOALS FOR THE FUTURE There are currently some really interesting things happening in Dutch fashion. We have been in touch with a Dutch designer who has studied with Alexander McQueen, and we hope to work with her on an exhibition for 2014.
Photo credit: Attilio D’Agostino