The Origin Story of I AM MPLS! (or how to get shit done)

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After Sarah Edwards and I had been chatting for a while in photographer Colleen Eversman’s studio, I finally remembered that I was doing an interview, and not just gabbing. I blame this on Sarah’s infectious enthusiasm for her city, Minneapolis, and its talented people. And not on my utter lack of professionalism. One of the ways Sarah has found to display the talent she sees here is with the yearly I AM MPLS! variety and fashion show that will be held this Thursday at First Avenue. It’s a huge production, and even though Sarah is a confident Girl Boss™ now, I AM MPLS! was once just a little dream she thought couldn’t happen. When Sarah told me how I AM MPLS! came to be, I thought it was a really simple and inspiring example of how to make an idea happen. So here it is, annotated with an easy-to-follow how-to.


Sarah: “I was at reception at creative agency Pixel Farm at the time. Receptionist jobs can be demanding or really slow at times. I’d be sitting there, and the guys would walk by, and I’d be like, ‘I’m going to do a fashion show!’”

Step 1: Tell someone your idea. And then keep telling people. Telling people makes it real, and makes you a liar if you don’t follow through.

“They’d be like, ‘Ok…’ And I’d say, ‘No, I am!’ And then I’d think, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how to put on a fashion show.’ So I wrote down a list of everything I needed for a fashion show.”

Step 2: Make a list. It breaks up the seemingly insurmountable into doable pieces.

Sarah’s list:
Stuff for them to wear

“I was also waitressing at a bar at the time, and Adam Levy from the Honeydogs would play there with his band Hookers$Blow a lot. He was one of the first people I pitched it to. I was like ‘Hey Adam, I’m putting on this fashion show and instead of professional models, it will be local influencers walking the runway. Would you want to be a model?’ He said, ‘But I’m not a model.’ And I said, ‘That’s the point!’ And he agreed to do it. Then the next person I pitched, I mentioned that Adam Levy was doing it…and it snowballed from there.”

Step 3: Tap your network.

“After I had one thing crossed off my list, the rest seemed easier.”

Step 4: Cross things off your list, one at a time, until nothing’s on the list. Boom. Idea completed.

I Am MPLS! Thursday, 8pm, doors at 7pm at First Avenue

I Am St. Paul! Thursday December 12th, 8pm, doors at 7pm at Amsterdam Bar and Hall

Photos by Colleen Eversman at 2nd Truth Photography

Ellen Lawson is the creator and EIC of The Flyover, a graphic designer and photographer living in Minneapolis.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Flyover Magazine: The Origin Story of I AM MPLS!

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