In 2010, Phoenix native Lauren Pfingstag saw an article in the newspaper about Phoenix Fashion Week.
Curious, the ASU marketing major jumped in and has been a part of the team that's been pushing Phoenix fashion-forward ever since.
When she began, Pfingstag was a volunteer, but soon she worked her way up. She assisted Phoenix Fashion Week's branding director, did operations, helped with behind-the-scenes event planning, and, when the director of media stepped down, Pfingstag took her place.
The 25-year-old has been in the position for two years now, working with in-town bloggers, doing PR work, producing the company's YouTube channel, and assisting the in-house graphic designer with marketing collateral. "It's a lot," she says. "But it's all stuff I'm really passionate about."
The formerly "super-shy" Pfingstag says she owes a lot to the opportunity because it has helped shake her out of her shell and helped make her feel more comfortable talking to people.
"I've learned a lot of real world experience that I didn't get in college," Pfingstag says. "School prepares you for the real world on a book level, but you need to know how to multitask, you need to be quick on your feet, and you need to be able to access a lot of ideas in a short amount of time."
Having lived here all her life, Pfingstag thinks it's great to see how the city has grown, and she knows her work with Phoenix Fashion Week is helping create more opportunities for designers.
"Our tagline is, 'Bridging Designers and Buyers,' and we're doing that more than any other regional fashion week. Obviously New York Fashion Week is a huge giant, but six or seven years ago, they were where we are now. There's so much potential with the businesses and companies that are headquartered here. We've grown so fast so soon, and now the sky's the limit."
Phoenix Fashion Week takes the business side of the fashion industry and runs with it. The main pillars of the organization are fashion, education, and humanity, and Pfingstag says this sets them apart. "We're not trying to be like anyone else. We like to have a personal connection with the city and meet people and shake their hands to show people that the fashion industry isn't a scary thing."
Most importantly, she says, Phoenix Fashion Week is here to benefit the community as much as possible and help people meet new people and make connections.
While most designers who show at a fashion week see nothing result from it (except video and pictures), the crew at Phoenix Fashion Week strives to educate a lot of them with the skills they need to be successful with the business side. The goal is to bring everyone in the industry together and help everyone grow their brand.
"I see our fashion week expanding beyond the Arizona market," Pfingstag says. "I see everything getting bigger and putting Phoenix's fashion on the map. That's what we want to do."
Being behind the scenes has altered Pfingstag's personal style and pushed her to dress for more professional events.
"It's a typical thing to have a full closet and say you have nothing to wear. I now look at what I need out of my wardrobe. I've learned to dress not for convenience, but instead for purpose."
It's easy to see that Pfingstag really loves her job. "There is never a day where I'm bored."
If she continues to live by Phoenix Fashion Week's motto -- "pushing Arizona fashion forward" -- the city might never be bored again either.
Phoenix Fashion Week's fifth annual Spring Into Fashion event is coming up on Friday, March 28.
What are you wearing? A Gibson blazer I got from Last Chance, a Gap tank top, H&M jeans, Target shoes, rings from ASOS and a necklace from Zara
What was the last item of clothing you bought? The pants I'm wearing, which are from H&M, and, after trading in some things at Buffalo Exchange, I got a great army green waterfall vest.
Where do you usually shop? H&M, thrift stores, and Last Chance. I've always been into thrifting, but lately I've had a lot of luck with finding designer clothes. It's like hunting for stuff.
Name five items every woman should have in her closet. 1) Black jeans 2) Simple, pointy black heels 3) A statement necklace 4) Dark-wash denim 5) An over-sized vintage blazer with pockets -- I can put a notepad, pens, and my phone in the pockets while I'm working events.
What's one fashion trend you can't stand? Crocs. . . I think there's so many ways to find a shoe that's just as comfortable without looking like that. Some people try to dress them up with little gems and it just doesn't work. Crocs have always bothered me.
Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. I was obsessed with Barbies and I loved styling them and dressing them up. I had Barbie everything. I always liked buying the individual outfits and I just loved changing them.
What is your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix? It's cool to be trendy, but it's better to spend your money on basics and statement pieces that will last you forever. Don't feel like you have to wear every single trend. Figure out your own style and go with it, because you don't have to look like everyone else.