Review: I AM Inspired Showcases the Vision Behind Local Boutiques

“What inspires you?” is a question often asked of fashion designers, artists, and musicians. Sunday night’s I AM Inspired fashion show—the brainchild of local producer Sarah Edwards—sought to answer that question from the perspective of the owners of local boutiques. Inspiration was everywhere the eye could see: Set against the beautiful backdrop of Intelligent Nutrients’ flagship store in Northeast Minneapolis, which is decorated in artwork collected by Intelligent Nutrients founder Horst Rechelbacher (also of Aveda fame), the event featured a live harpist, elegant paintings by Minneapolis figurative painter Caitlin Karolczak, and perfumed cocktails at the store’s in-store bar, IN Spirits, which spritzes its drinks with Intelligent Nutrients’ edible essential oils. (Pro tip: One of Minneapolis’ best-kept secrets, the bar is a great idea for an after-work happy hour during its limited hours of 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays).

The centerpiece of the show, of course, was the fashion. Accompanied by a mini documentary featuring the owners of each boutique, each runway segment showcased the unique aesthetic of each store along with some of fall’s key trends.

[Disclaimer: The author of this piece is co-founder of I AM Inspired presenting partner Fashion Week MN]

Hazel & Rose

all videos: Stefanie Toftey

Hazel & Rose, a sustainable fashion boutique that recently opened in Northeast Minneapolis, showcased a collection of tone-on-tone looks, from dusty pinks to camel to slate grey-blues, in elegant, easy silhouettes. The store carries a curated collection of women’s clothing and accessories by small, independent designers spanning the globe as well as local lines Hackwith Design House and Winsome Goods, and the quality and craftsmanship of the thoughtfully made garments was apparent on the runway.

all photos: Jay Larson


New Ulm boutique Semblance followed with a similarly thoughtful presentation that featured fall florals, army green (one of fall’s biggest color trends), and draped, body-skimming silhouettes. While New Ulm is best known for its beer and German heritage, Semblance is yet another reason to visit the quaint Minnesota town. Nestled amidst the historic town’s German gift shops and kitsch, the design-oriented boutique showcases a thoughtfully curated selection of architectural tops and dresses, handcrafted candles and fragrances, lifestyle magazines such as Kinfolk and Gather Journal, and delicate handmade jewelry by independent designers, including Minnesota’s own ACG and Joeleen Torvick. (The store also recently opened a second location in Mankato.)

Merilou Boutique

Plaids, stripes, and chunky knits were paired with soft textures and ruffled hems during Merilou Boutique‘s segment. Take note: Plaid had a big moment on the fall runways, and it’s looking to be one of fall’s most wearable, approachable trends.

My Sister

Tees and tanks by local brand My Sister were styled with globally inspired fashions and African tribal fabrics in a spirited segment styled by local fashion blogger Emily Kanz. Emblazoned with phrases such as “Feminist” and “You’re Not the Boss of Me,” the tees are designed to spar serious conversations about sex trafficking, and all sales of its t-shirts, lip balms, tanks, and jewelry directly benefit anti-trafficking organizations—since its founding, My Sister has donated more than $70,000, and recently opened a storefront in Uptown.


Scandinavian patterns and chunky knits were paired with delicate lace and buttery leather in a segment highlighting Highland Park shop Stephanie’s, which recently celebrated 12 years of business. That’s no small feat, with the advent of e-commerce and the lingering effects of 2008’s recession. Since then, owner Stephanie Morrissey has opened and closed a second location, become a mother, added a dress rental service, and weathered changing trends with aplomb.

Bluebird Boutique

Wrapping up the show was 50th & France retailer Bluebird Boutique, which showcased its signature style—edgy leather jackets, premium denim, luxe fur and knits, and simple-yet-sexy dresses from contemporary brands such as Elizabeth & James, Vince, Current/Elliott, and J Brand. For North Loopers, the store also has an outpost at co-op boutique D.NOLO.

Producer Sarah Edwards (at left) in a dress featuring a pattern by Katie Ryan of Queenikathleeni Designs and design by Jacqueline Addison of Akua Gabby (pictured at right)