Q&A: Danielle Gano at San Diego Thread Show
On April 11, the LadyLUX team headed to San Diego for the Thread Show, a traveling showcase of emerging independent designers. As we mentioned in our preview article on the event, Lara Matthews, the founder of Thread, aims to bring the best of the best when it comes to indie talent. When I wasn’t perusing offbeat jewelry or the new home goods section, I was mesmerized by local art and DJ’s rocking the floors. 944 even partnered up for a great runway show, revealing the denizens of the surf city everything from screen-print tees and designer jeans, to silky sundresses and swim apparel. LadyLUX had the opportunity to chat with Danielle Gano, a spokesperson and producer of the Thread show, who gave her reaction to the San Diego show and some background on the brand, like how it started at a garden party.
LadyLUX: Where did Lara get the idea for the Thread Shows?
Danielle Gano: Lara moved here from Bristol, in the UK, about 9 years ago. Back in England, there are a lot of events like Thread and there was greater prevalence of support for local designers. When she moved out here, she quickly obtained a group of friends that were comprised of independent artists and designers. She realized there was really nothing going that promoted them and gave them an opportunity to sell their goods. You know, it’s not highly likely that brand new designers are going to be immediately picked up by a retail store. She really wanted to create that opportunity for them.
LL: How did the brand start?
DG: So she started Thread seven years ago from her backyard in Mission Hills. Hundreds of people showed up to this little garden party. They didn’t expect that many people and they had these massive crowds at her house.
LL: How did she get the show out of her backyard?
DG: The first official Thread event was in 2003, over at the Wonderbread Factory in San Diego.
LL: What perks are in store for designers that work with Thread?
DG: We’re growing the opportunities for designers. Beyond giving them a day to sell, we’re also trying to create a community of support for them. Also, we’d like to create more ongoing opportunities for them such as business and marketing education… So they can become stronger and grow their brands as well.
LL: San Diego is a soft spot for you guys.
DG: This was the birthplace of the Thread Show. So this is the city the first designers were from. There were brands there yesterday, like Micha Design, that have been doing the event since the first one in her garden. They’ve gone on to become really successful. [The designer] lives in LA and dresses a lot of celebrities. She still comes back and does the Thread show every single time.
LL: Were you surprised with the turnout?
DG: We had a pretty good idea of how many people would be there. I think we were a little surprised this time about how many people stayed. We expected a few thousand people to come, but people really stayed this time. It got crowded for a while.
LL: What did the vendors have to say about today?
DG: So many of the designers commented on the great conversations they had with potential customers and how much they were able to learn through those conversations with them.
LL: What’d you think stood out in the San Diego show?
DG: It was really one of the best shows we’ve had in a few years. I say that, not because I think that, but because people told me that over, and over, and over again. Every single designer said it was the best show they’ve been to in years. I think there are various things that play into that. I think we did a great job this time of tapping a wide variety of creative and influential individuals in the San Diego community. We started to add in more art, house wares, and interactive elements, which gave people a sense of ownership in the event.
LL: Where do you see the Thread brand going?
DG: You can imagine in the last couple years, with the change in the economy, it was a big hit on our business and our designers. We really spent a lot of time and resources on how we continue to support and be relevant to the designers. We’ve worked with a really big marketing research firm to put together qualitative data to find out what our consumers and designers are looking for. We don’t want to naively think that it would stay the same over seven years time. The event has grown and we're doing a lot of different markets. This year we're doing Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
It is a fact that Thread is a unique event, a chance to see designers that are local and deserve attention. The founder, Lara, said about her event, “What I love the most about the designs I discover through THREAD is that they are not mass-produced and are made with a level of care and quality that I don’t find at most commercial retailers.”
LadyLUX plans to stay tuned to Thread and their upcoming shows in San Francisco (June 19) and in Orange County (August 22). Check out their Web site at threadshow.com to keep updated on their mission for good style, good value, and good karma.