Photos courtesy of Groundwork Fitness, taken at their previous fashion show.
On Saturday, December 6, join the downtown Long Beach up-and-coming community of small businesses who will be debuting new threads and timeless attire during the Black December Fashion Show. Presented by Groundwork Fitness, the fashion show is an attempt to keep Long Beach residents (and their holiday spending money) in the city for the sake of bolstering our thriving small business community during this time of increased, albeit painful, spending. If you’re going to splurge on your loved ones, at least do it in a way that supports your local economy.
From 6:00PM to 9:00PM, enjoy the fashion show, full bar and live entertainment by the rock n’ roll theater group RiotStage inside the empty space-turned small business incubator at 236 Pine Ave. DW Ferrell of Localism, who is taking on the transformation of the 236 building into the outstanding MADE Long Beach, is sincerely and economically stoked for the Black December Fashion Show, an eclectic showcase of our little-big city’s independent artisans and vendors.
1897LB, Yellow 108, 7th Wave Surf Shop, Outfitters, Reclamation Department, Elev8, Gardea Studio, Your Soul Can Sing, Rebecah Ryan, as well as Heartbreak Coffee, The Bike Stand and Amihan Chocolates are just several of the shops who will be providing apparel and accoutrements for the show.
“Fashion is one mode where the broad diversity of Long Beach is expressed most vividly,” Ferrell explained. “So we love events like the Black December Fashion show because they help elevate the designers and unique merchants that are building our creative economy. And there will be at least one new clothing line announced at the event that looks amazing and really represents Long Beach in a great way.”
Giovanna Ferraro, owner of Groundwork Fitness, and main organizer and spearhead for the Black December Fashion Show understands that community and camaraderie are necessary elements for the success of small business. The independent, small-scale shops and services in the downtown area are like a family, working together to turn downtown Long Beach into a safe, welcoming and positive environment. Earlier this year, Ferraro hosted a different kind of fashion show for just this reason.
“At the beginning of the year, Gio had the idea for a fashion show, and we discussed a plan and how it could raise money for a non-profit that touches her personally, and also help raise money to rebuild the floor above Groundwork Fitness,” explained Ferrell. “And I mean literally to rebuild the floor… you could barely step on the old floorboards without worrying about falling through.”
12 local fashion designers and boutiques presented their wares to an enthusiastic audience at “Raise the Roof!” The show helped fortify Groundwork Fitness as a long term Pine Ave. business, who, at the time, had been on the cusp of being profitable. Fixing the roof was one of the last steps. As a way to give back to the downtown community, Ferraro wanted to organize something much bigger and better, something to showcase the downtown family of businesses, and not just the fashion designers. “So we added live music, more local companies, a full bar and a few surprises,” she exclaimed.
For this event, Ferraro chose The Century Villages of Cabrillo to be the local non-profit organization. To complete the holiday wish lists of local homeless children, the organization will be able to use the fashion show to garner proceeds for their “Adopt a Child” program.
“We are a small local business and understand the importance of community support, we rely on it,” Ferraro said about Groundwork Fitness. “We compete with corporate business year round and as we live The American Dream, it doesn't come easy. The long hours, absence of paid vacation or sick days, constant marketing and innovations to stay in the game are understood amongst small business owners.”
Independent businesses recirculate money within the local economy, which gives it a boost, allowing the businesses to create skilled jobs that develop careers, managers and future independent business owners. This is called the Local Multiplier Effect, according to Ferrell.
“When an independent business survives,” he continued, “they keep three times more money in the economy as compared to 86 cents out of every dollar that leaves our local economy when we shop at major chains.”
Ferraro would argue that small business owners are more passionate than their neighboring corporate entities partly because of their dependence on the community for survival. This, in turn, encourages said owners to help improve and lift up their immediate surroundings in any way they can, whether it’s sweeping their front sidewalk or discussing Community Watch Programs at the Historical Pine Ave. Association’s (HOPA) monthly meetings.
“I see more passion in those who rely on community support to stay in the game,” Ferraro said. “Passion spills out of small business owners more so, as it is what drives us, because it takes passion to survive.”
While Long Beach is known as a haven for artists, musicians and creatives of all types, the city has yet to develop a strong creative economy. “Now is a critical time where we can get behind them and buoy them to success,” said Ferrell.
The Black December Fashion Show is just such an event that will showcase downtown Long Beach’s potential to grow into something much more interesting, to become a creative hub for artists, vendors and local movers and shakers who see no other option than following their passions.
“Downtown is not a corporate-filled place at every corner,” said Ferraro, “it’s unique and it offers something more.”