Q&A: Polina Osherov Talks What’s Next for Pattern
The creative collective plans to open a fashion accelerator in 2016.
Pattern is making waves in the city in a relatively short time frame. So how is all this possible?
I suppose the simplest answer is that there was and is a significant demand for what Pattern is trying to do, and we’ve gotten tremendous support from the community as a result. And not just people interested in fashion, either; lots of arts organizations, other nonprofits engaged in making Indianapolis a world-class city, economic-development entities, and businesses—small and large—have helped us on this journey.
You announced a few truth bombs Thursday night at the State of Pattern Meetup. What do you think people were most surprised by?
People might be surprised by the next issue’s cover model, Tony Kanaan!
One thing you shared was about a new Makerspace for local designers to use, just a block from the Pattern Store. What resources will this provide to local designers, and when will it open?
The Makerspace, which will be called Ruckus, is going to be located at Circle City Industrial Complex, which really is right around the corner from the Pattern Store. Ruckus will take up about 30,000 square feet inside a facility that’s actually 120,000 square feet total! Once Ruckus is up and running, the goal is to have a cut-and-sew facility co-locate inside the building. I don’t have any idea how big it will be, but we plan to spend this year really building traffic and demand for cut-and-sew services so that the facility can stay open year round, be busy, and be profitable. The plan is to have the cut-and-sew in CCIC. But, what we’re launching first is Ruckus, the Makerspace, which is not the same as the cut-and-sew. The idea is to attract a bunch of designers to become members at Ruckus. Once that happens, and with all the space that’s available at CCIC, we hope to then entice a cut-and-sew shop to either launch or relocate to that building somewhere around the corner from Ruckus. Based on the many conversations I’ve had with people in the industry here and some very basic projections, I really believe that a full-time cut-and-sew is in our future. It might not be until early-to-mid-2016, but it’s going to happen!
You’ve shared a rendering with us. Please explain what we’re looking at here.
So this here is what takes the whole project to a whole new level of cool, in my opinion. The southern end of CCIC basically sits at the intersection of the Cultural Trail, Pogue’s Run, and the Monon Trail. So someone had the fantastic idea to run a bike trail—we’re calling it Maker’s Trail—through the inside of the building itself! The idea is to have huge windows separate the trail from the Makerspace, but people on their bikes—or, really, anyone—will be able to ride or walk through the building and observe all the activity, which will take place on the other side of the wall. It’s a grandiose idea and completely impractical, but I really hope that we can stretch the development dollars to pull it off. I believe this is a crucial step to connecting the space to the rest of the community. It’s a really big building, and it might seem intimidating, but we really want everyone with interest to feel like they can be a part of it, even if it’s just riding their bike through and seeing what’s going on inside.
When you opened the floor for questions at Thursday’s meetup, someone asked how Pattern seeks to be inclusive of everyone. How exactly will the Makerspace function, and how do people gain access to the space?
The easiest way to explain how a Makerspace works is that it’s a “gym for people who make stuff.” You sign up to be a monthly member—there will be several levels of membership—and then you go into the space and have access to a wide variety of equipment and tools. There will be someone overseeing the space to manage the memberships, orient new members, and serve as a liaison between Ruckus and the rest of the community. We also plan on hosting events, as well as workshops that will be open to everyone.
All of our events are open to the public. Some are free, some are ticketed, but we are always happy to see anyone who appreciates fashion, the arts, culture, and creativity in general. Age, race, gender, etc. are completely irrelevant. I will say that while we have a number of social events, Pattern is not a social club; we are an economic-development resource, and we exist to help small-business owners and entrepreneurs make the most of the opportunities before them.
Jokingly, you mentioned how the application process for the Makerspace grant was grueling. How much did the state award you, and what will the grant allow Pattern and local apparel designers to do?
The grant we received is actually a Community Development Block Grant from the City of Indianapolis, and it was for $1.5 million. Adam Collins, deputy mayor for economic development, and Adam Thies, director of the Department of Metropolitan Development, were both instrumental in encouraging us to apply. As you can imagine, getting a grant that size comes with a lot of paperwork and red tape! Thankfully, we were able to work on this together with Riley Area Development Corporation and People for Urban Progress. RADC did the lion’s share of the work, and they also will be the ones managing the grant money, but PUP and Pattern are helping shape the vision and the aesthetics for the brand and what the space will look like.
To be clear, the grant will be used primarily to redevelop the southern end of the Circle City Industrial Complex and build out Ruckus, as well as some of the adjoining spaces. That’s all it can be used for. We still need to do additional fundraising for equipment, furniture, and the like. The city is really seeing the economic potential of urban manufacturing, and having CCIC become a hub for that is something they really want to happen, as do all of us. Personally, nothing would make me happier than seeing the east end of Mass Ave dovetail into what will eventually become either Indy’s Garment District, or just an all-encompassing Maker’s Row; a hotbed of design and creative productivity.
Riley Area Development Corporation has been an influential partner in getting Pattern Store’s retail-incubator program off the ground. Will funds from the program be going into the new Makerspace?
With the store, we are not yet profitable, but definitely moving in the right direction. Once we are profitable, the funds will be used to seed another retail incubator. Perhaps it will be someone who gets their start at Ruckus. That would be a great story!
How instrumental are the volunteers Pattern has?
Of course, volunteers are the real key to everything that has been achieved. Pattern has had some incredible volunteers contribute their time and energy to help move it forward. People are absolutely blown away when I tell them that Pattern is 99.9% volunteer operated. No one can believe how much has been accomplished with a workforce that has to fit all of their Pattern-related activities in between their full-time jobs, kids, and life. I’m very grateful!
You spoke Thursday about a shift in leadership for Pattern Store, as director of retail operations Jeremiah Williams decided not to renew his contract. What’s next for the store?
Now that we’re up and running, the goal is to really focus on marketing, merchandising, and making the store as shoppable—and profitable—as possible! That means more events, more photo shoots, more brands, and a lot of activity to drive traffic to the 800 block of Mass Ave!
Jeremiah did a tremendous job of helping us launch and laying the groundwork for what we hope will be a very successful venture. Katie Marple, who is taking over for Jeremiah, has actually been a very engaged volunteer almost from the very beginning of the store’s launch, so the transition should be very seamless. We are excited to see what the next 12 months holds for our community!