Local fashion designers, artists, dancers and many more have come together as a community to create the virtual Cedar Valley Fashion, Art & Culture Expo (CVFAC Expo). This year has opened up the opportunity to utilize a digital platform that allows people around the world to see our community’s outstanding talent. The event provides access and inspiration to all through the sharing of different arts, cultures, and career exploration in an uplifting, fun and inclusive way. Be sure to mark November 27th, 2020 on your calendars to view the show — you can watch the CVFAC Expo on Youtube , Facebook , and Instagram. Along with watching, please consider supporting these local community members featured in the Expo.
The adaptability from all involved with the Expo shows how the community is resilient, amazing and strong — Waterloo strong. Mayor of Waterloo, Quentin Hart, and First Lady Cassandra Hart were both born and raised in the City of Waterloo and attended the University of Northern Iowa. Cassandra received a Masters in Principalship, currently serving as Assistant Principal at Hoover Middle School and Mayor Hart obtained a Masters in Post-Secondary Affairs. Education and working with the community’s youth is important to both of them. Cassandra emphasizes the importance behind this event that shows local youth the sky is limitless, you can do anything you put your mind to, but it first starts with a belief. Being able to see successful individuals in their community gives hope to others that they can also pursue their dreams and have the support from their community.
Other initiatives that are taking place in Waterloo are mentorship programs for the youth. Having an additional positive leader in youth lives to continue to support them is always welcomed and needed. The Mayor’s Youth Initiative focuses directly on finding jobs for young people, one of the programs is the Mayor’s Youth Council which helps teach politics and how to create change within their communities. There are many ways to get involved and support the necessary and amazing work being done each day.
Become a Mentor with Waterloo Community Schools: (319) 433-1800
The Expo will show culture through many different forms of art, which is important to the community because “when you take a look overall at what beauty means, for so long the image of beauty has been decided by various people but this gives the opportunity to give those creative aspects and showcase different beauty then what we traditionally see on TV and media” said Mayor Hart. It’s necessary to provide this platform to the creative individuals in the community making an impact every day. Support your community in part by purchasing from local businesses and talent. Also, include the local talent in any opportunities like the CVFAC Expo, which provides an opportunity to showcase their creativity. First Lady Cassandra states “their success is our success, the more that we can support them, it supports all of us.” Check out these exclusive sneak peek interviews with artists being featured at the Cedar Valley Fashion, Art, and Culture Expo.
Allen Speller // Business Owner // Performer
Local artist, business owner, and dad. Allen Speller is showing his community that you can have multiple interests and pursue them. Allen started a music and entertainment business that helped bring mainstream artists to the area for the community to enjoy. Allen would spread his music through performing at these shows himself. Music has been a part of Allen’s life, growing up in a church, singing, playing drums and piano. As he grew older, Allen realized he had a natural ability to remember lyrics without writing them down. About 8 years ago, he wrote What Your Name Is, which is the song he’ll be performing at the CVFAC Expo. Music is a passion for Allen, and he’s since ventured into a new business with his dad.
Allen and his dad bought an old gas station building with hopes to refurbish and bring it back to life. Although they had run into some technical problems with the equipment left over, that didn’t stop this duo from finding an alternative solution. Through their research, they found success with the hardware store, True Value, where they’ve been open and operating since 2016. Allen’s hopes for the future is to open a second store and continue to build awareness and grow their current location. If you are in the area, check out Spellers True Value located on 1027 E 4th St, Waterloo, IA 50703.
Arryan Davis // Musician
Music started with family — Arryan recalls recording songs with his cousins using little microphones and studio programs on a Macintosh Computer. Ever since then, music has stayed in his life consistently. Arryan draws from experiences he’s lived through to create his own style. The song Arryan is performing for the CVFAC Expo is
I Can’t Breath, derived from a personal experience Arryan has put into words for his cousin Derek Ambrose, who was killed by the police. Arryan wrote this song throughout the quarantine period and when asked to perform for the Black Lives Matter segment, he felt that this was the right time to release his song.
Along with being a musician, Arryan is a huge gamer, growing up he loved playing Nintendo and Sega Genesis. He finds a lot of inspiration from games and tunes to incorporate in his own production. Currently, Arryan is working on a new project called Put Y’all On Game that comes from his passion for game beats and music. One song he wants to highlight and get people excited for is “I’m So Iowa and it’s just talking about a lot of stuff that’s going on in our city that you know, people can kind of sweep under the rug … ”. Check out Arryan’s released music and stay up to date with upcoming tracks soon to drop.
ShinDigg // Designer // Photographer // Musician
“ShinDigg” has been a part of the CVFAC Expo for the past four years, starting off as a performer for the pre-show, heading to the main show and now entering their own brand Light Gear to be featured. Light Gear is inspired by this idea of sparking something inside someone to better connect themselves to their purpose. The logo is a lightbulb with the letter ‘b' in the middle, this means to “be light”. This simple image can spark questions like what does it mean to be light? What does it look like? How do people feel when they’re by someone who is light?
You can purchase Light Gear merchandise, ranging from t-shirts, hoodies and crewnecks, on Shindgg.com or if you catch ShinDigg out in the community, you can purchase directly from them. For the future, the hopes for Light Gear is to become a more lifestyle and household brand. With hopes of encouraging others to monitor the way they speak to others and how they carry themselves because they are a light.
“Walk in Purpose, On Purpose”
Phone Number: (515) 447-6590
Renaldo Haywood // Designer
Renaldo Haywood is excited for the upcoming new launch of his brand Foreign Gents, which will be featured in the CVFAC Expo with a collaboration of Palace Clothiers. From a young age, Renaldo has always been fascinated with fashion — he shared a story of wearing hand-me-downs from his neighbor that didn’t always fit him the best. He knew then that he cared about clothes and when the time came, he wouldn’t have to worry about finding clothes that fit. After graduating from the Textiles and Apparel program from the University of Northern Iowa, he knew he wanted to start his own business. Foreign Gents brand is wholesale with a twist, it’s bringing together a mixture of high-end sports and casual gear.
Inspiration for this dressier style comes from different art forms from western movies, the Harlem Renaissance, and the jazz and cowboy era. Renaldo wants others to know that dress has many messages of empowerment. First impressions mean a lot and the way you dress can show confidence and a level of respect for how you carry yourself. Foreign Gents inspires others to bring back the dressier man in suits and ties. He hopes that this can help set an example for younger people to show them at an early age how to carry yourself through life. Foreign Gents has already found its way into some pop-up shops, but the hope for the future is to continue to spread the brand and eventually go on a tour. Big things to come from Renaldo Haywood and Foreign Gents!
Contact: Renaldo Haywood
Lisa Bradford // Stylist
Hoping to inspire others to step out of their fashion comfort box and try something different, Lisa Bradford’s styling is being featured in the CVFAC Expo. Lisa finds inspiration from TV, fashion magazines and simply observing people walking down the street. She loves to find pieces that are sleek and different than what you typically see in stores every day. One of Lisa’s future goals includes opening a brick-and-mortar fashion store in the community. This way, Lisa can carry out her passion of providing unique merchandise to help put smiles on peoples faces. Fashion is a great way to connect people and gives Lisa great joy in her life.
Contact Lisa Bradford
Phone Number: 319-215-6266
True Talent Dance // Tashshay Williams & Tierra Starks
Dancing is everything to the founder of True Talent Dance, Tashay Williams. Tashshay has always dreamed of teaching kids, while working at a daycare center, she started to teach dance lessons in the recreation room. It started off with about 7 girls and continued to grow to a point where Tashay knew that their community needed a dance studio that welcomes all levels of dance ability. True Talent Dance has around 24 dancers performing in the CVFAC Expo ranging from ages 5-16 years old. This isn’t their first performance — the studio participates in many different local parades, events and at churches.
True Talent Dance opened two studios within the community which allows the kids to practice and perfect their craft. The future goal is to continue to expand to more locations, along with growing their classes to include 3-4 year olds, a boys division and some adult classes. Tashshay’s passion for dance and teaching others inspires the youth to push past their comfort zones. She makes the “littles” learn the same choreography as the “bigs” which challenges them to push for excellence. Check out True Talent Dance’s performance to see some T.R.U.E. (Talent, Revealing, Unlimited, Excellence).
Contact True Talent Dance
Phone Number: 319-229-6630
Other Performers, Artists, and Designers --
Designer // Blaine and Justin
Featured // Black Greeks
This incredible event was put together with the help of many leaders in the community. Thank you to Joy Briscoe, Kristin Kruse and Textiles and Apparel Intern, Britni Perkins. If you would like to help intern for future shows please contact Annette Lynch with University of Northern Iowa Textiles and Apparel Program: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cedar Valley Fashion, Art and Culture Expo is a positive highlight of 2020. Make sure to support local and reach out to these talented individuals for collaborations, questions or opportunities.
Words / Cassie Hendrix
Photography / Isaac Hackman, Isabel Smith, Fabiola Mukobwajana, Jorge Garcia
Graphic Design / Kailie Hesner