When I first came across I’m Crowning on Instagram, I went through every single picture. It was impossible to pick which of Jane’s hats were my favorite; they’re so unique with nary two the same! For many of us, our festival attire is a reflection of the extreme ways that we see our multi-faceted soul within and it’s only at a festival that we can let it shine through. So, of course, I’m Crowning caught my eye with its sparkly gems, colorful feathers, and baubles that would make unicorn weep tears of joy. With COVID-19 doing its best to decimate not only our shows and festivals, but also the small businesses that exist because of the Electronic Dance Music scene, Fresh Music Freaks is placing a Focus on Fashion so we can help each other out and look fly AF when the season returns. It was a pleasure interviewing Jane Allen, upcycling master and owner of I’m Crowning.
Hi Jane! What and when was your first festival?
My first ever festival was Bonnaroo in 2009. It was a real slow burn on festivals for me for 10 years after that. I think I only went to three in all of my 20s: Lighting in a Bottle and Treasure Island Music Festival. When I went to Burning Man in 2016 it really opened my eyes to House music culture and EDM fashion. What The Festival 2017 is where I sold my first crowns and when my business was named and my future in festival fashion seemed viable.
Can you tell me how you first got into designing these fantastical head toppers?
When I was going into undergrad I wanted to study fiber arts and was interested in wearable art/fashion but due to the lack of availability at my university, I settled on sculpture which I focused on for about a decade. When I started costuming for Burning Man I was quickly recruited into a theater conservatory. The crown idea was a brainchild cultivated during work on a production of The Little Mermaid The Musical. I decided to make crowns out of some of my sculpture materials for friends to wear at What The Festival. I met my first customer there and a friend of mine told me I should “start a business called ‘I’m Crowning’” and the rest is history.
Would you say that your creations are a reflection of your own colorful and delightful style?
I have a serious passion for curating materials. Not all the materials I collect are necessarily in line with my personal aesthetic but I know if I like something. You’d be shocked to see how fast I move through a market when purchasing. Even though I wouldn’t wear something doesn’t mean it’s not a WHOLE MOOD and someone wouldn’t be having major vibes with it. I enjoy building aesthetics and design is my true love, but the majority of the time I’m designing without myself in mind. That being said, sometimes I fall for my own work in a big way.
How do you find all the little pieces that go on your hats? There are some I can’t imagine coming from a craft store!
Thanks for noticing! I really do pride myself in my use and reuse of circular economy, up-cycled materials! I hate trash; even the concept of trash. I always have my eyes peeled for something special and I try to use every last bit of everything I buy. Sometimes I have the opportunity to buy jewelry in bulk. Last year for Christmas my boyfriend filled a giant stocking with beaded jewelry for me. A lot of friends seek me out when they have things to gift or sell me. I work with other brands to utilize their scraps. I try to circulate the money I spend on materials back into the artist/fashion/festival community as much as possible. I’m constantly on the lookout and always keep a huge inventory to work with. Having an abundance of materials keeps the inspiration flowing. Whenever I need a quick boost I head to my local thrift store and buy a couple of statement necklaces. My partner and I do quite a bit of traveling as well and I’m proud to say my materials come from all over the world.
Do you ever get a creative block or slump and how do you get yourself out of it?
I was in a slump for years before I started making wearable art. I’m a lifetime artist but was not actively producing the way that I do now. I was making these huge wall sculptures and they took FOREVER. I finally realized that my passion was design and that I was only getting to design a couple things a year. Now I can design multiple things a day! I really do feel as though my primary life’s purpose is to make art so when I’m not I feel unfulfilled. Instagram has been huge for my business and a really good tool for me to feel productive even when I’m having fun and not actively producing. Sometimes my body is tired from vending and I just don’t feel like making things but to be able to sit on a device and get fashion photography content out there helps fill the gaps.
How have the COVID-19 cancelations and postponements affected your small business and how can we support She’s Crowning during this time so we can be wearing your “cake toppers” when festival season returns in the Fall?
I appreciate your support so much! I can’t even tell you how much I prepared for 2020 festival season. I applied my buns off this winter and had a killer schedule lined up! I spent my off-season vending in (the hottest) nightclubs in San Francisco and had enough saved to cover application fees for all the festivals I was accepted to. I felt like I was peaking! I’m essentially on hold right now. I’m isolating in our second home in Portland currently and all of my stock and materials are in Silicon Valley. I currently have 12 hats with me that I am working on every day. I will be posting them for sale in my stories on Instagram in the coming weeks. I don’t currently have my inventory online but love selling on Instagram stories so please follow me there!
Thank you Jane, it was a pleasure chatting with you and I’ll be keeping a close eye on your Instagram stories for one of your fantastical festie hats!
*Featured Image of Tea Party | Image Via Lizzie Rose Media*