We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Artwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
After experiencing a tragic house fire in 2016, I had to pause my fashion production and MaaLeo line to restart and gain new footing. My family and I were unharmed, but I had lost all my inventory, along with machines, patterns, fabric and more. It was a teaching and very trying time, but it allowed me to take a moment to really question what I wanted to do in life. I started to really think about the things I had left and what I can do with myself alone since I didn’t have my regular tools.
As I pushed forward, I started to pick up work in special events production; keeping this thought in mind. Simultaneously, a friend referred me to a fellow wardrobe stylist and I began working on commercial sets too. Working in both industries reminded me of the many fashion shows that I designed for and participated in prior to, but this time I had the opportunity to hire friends and be a part of sets and events I dreamed of. I assisted in producing events, wardrobe and sets for AfroPunk, SONY, Tidal, Def Jam Records, Moose Knuckles, Brugal 1888, Geico, Samsung and others.
However, after doing this for 2 years, I lost interest in working for companies that only wanted to use corporate opportunities to create hype and be popular. I decided to create The Artwell Creative LLC, in 2018, to better utilize and share my access to production and media knowledge, resources, opportunities and connect marginalized freelancers with better creative opportunities . I realized that my community of creatives and small businesses needed exactly that to help them thrive, market and create options for themselves. I wanted to use my skills and business to structure services and ways to help others do what they do better, while being able to gain professional experience.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began my creative journey as a seamstress and pattern maker in 2012 when one of my good friends Eleonore said why don’t we just make our own clothes. I looked at her sideways at first, but then said wait…why not? From then on I took some classes at F.I.T. and then participated in college fashion shows. During that year, I started to understand the basic parts of event production along with what I was doing for my fashion production. I began taking note of how much each show cost me, how much marketing and spreading the word meant for my brand, and also how long the process of clothes to show really took – oh boy, the latter drove me nuts sometimes lol.
As I continued into the following year, I had a yearning to become better in all parts of what I was doing, so I decided to begin interning under talented seamstresses that friends referred me too. This lasted for quite sometime, and to support one of my internships, Doien Demi Couture, I picked up serving and bartending again – something that I did in 2008 – to alleviate cost when I wasn’t creating as much. My habits became bar, internship, personal projects and sleep.
Around 2016, all that changed though once my family and I encountered a house fire and we lost all of our belongings – including my clothes inventory, sewing machines, laptop, and other fashion and event tools. I was lost for that year, but still kept my hospitality jobs to help me move around and get back basic necessities. I decided to also travel out of state to see family also, as we waited for insurance to take care of us.
That was a very trying time for me, but being around amazing family and hospitality friends – Dayana Jean-Marie, Raquel Flemming, Karolina Grabowska, Dayvon Albert, Elsie, Sasha Sharky and others – I was reminded that what I lost materially had nothing to do with the love and support that I always have around me. Family and friends taught me that without things, I am still valuable and wanted.
After that year, an event company found me in my friend’s bar and I began my new creative journey as an event producer, media specialist, and community organizer. A few months later, another friend – Regina Bresler – referred me to a stylist, Dennine Dyer, for commercial production and wardrobe styling. With both industries in hand, I saw how big companies made things happen and why they do what they do. However, as I became aware of each companies intention, I lost interest in doing large scale production and stepped more into community work.
I decided to form The Artwell Creative LLC in 2018 to be able to protect friends and other creative associates that I hired out for production jobs , as well as safeguard the content that I was able to capture for the different brands and companies I was partnering with.
To this day I use all my skill sets that I’ve acquired to help and assist those around me because I remember all I had to go through when I first started, as well as when I wanted to continue but didn’t know how.
I’m currently a multi-disciplinary artists and I do photography, videography, graphic design, marketing, community programming, event production, as well as my first baby fashion production.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If a friend or family member hung out with me for a week I would take them to some key locations that are amazing and always take care of me, as well as introduce them to some cool partners I work with.
For fun I would go to Oceans 8 Brownstone Billiards on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to play some pool, arcade games and grab a strong drink from their bar. I used to work and bartend here for years and they took care of me during my house fire transition. Ask for Big Frank, he knows what’s up lol.
Next would be one of the locations that I partner in running called Blank Bamboo in Bushwick. My business partner Simone Acosta knows how to throw a live jam session with fire local musicians and I would definitely take anyone there to catch that vibe, dance and see what her brand – That House Party Tho and other partners bring to the table.
Next would be another creative trip to another dope business partner’s location called New Heat Studios in Downtown Brooklyn. My homie Paulie of Over Soul Media takes beautiful headshots and captures great video content and also runs events each month that highlight local creatives. I would take any friend or family member there to get some quick and great headshots to add to their portfolio or start one.
Next I would take them to Universe City in Brownsville on Glenmore Ave. Here we would chill and chat with local urban farmers on Cannabis laws, aquaponic techniques and visit gardens in the area that we both partner with. Frank, Alexis, Jill and Brittany are such genuine people and come with a wide range of knowledge; everyone should check in and see what they’re about!
For some good and tasty healthy eats, I would take anyone to Jungle Juice Cafe Bk in East Flatbush and Crown Heights. They have two brand new locations that give you the best quality fruits and vegetables, not too mention King and Jamel have the best customer service around and I LOVE THEIR FOOD! Two other spots would be Aunts & Uncles also in East Flatbush, along with Screamers Pizza either in Crown Heights or Williamsburg – my favorite vegans options!
Following that I would take them on one more healthy trip to meet another phenomenal business partner Laura Jean-Jacques. She is such a powerhouse and has the best life and business advice ever! We would chat about everything under the sun and then taste her flavorful tea blends from her brand Zanset Tea Co. You have to try it!
I would also take them to my new hospitality job DINER / Marlow & Sons also located in Williamsburg. If you ever wanted to meet unicorns, their staff and hospitality are one of a kind, not to mention the quality and attention to detail to their food and drink menu is like no other. I just started here, but this is going to be a definite go to for this Spring, Summer and onward.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate my shoutout to my family. Without the support of my mom, aunt, and cousin, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They taught me early on that I can be and do anything that I want in this life. They’ve also been a major support system in my business and personal endeavors, allowing me to create my first design studio in our family house where I lived, sewed, and hosted events – a major savings from having to rent out other locations and places. I love my family and am grateful for all they’ve contributed and continue to contribute to myself, my work and business. Shoutout to Lisa Artwell, Sharon Prime and Nichole Prime for putting up with my ideas and shenanigans <3 !
Instagram: @artwellcreative | @fromtheamazonofficial
Other: 2013 Tumblr Lookbook for Clothing Line “Maäleo” www.maaleod.tumblr.com
Garden and Kids: Mickey aka Pizza Boy (@pizzaboy_biggs Christina in Army Jacket holding food bag for Covid Relief Food Giveaway: Franklyn Mena (@universecitynyc) Dayana and Christina at Cafe: Oswald Thomas (@relivethis) Christina and Community Response Team Truck – Sherese Parris (@parris_passion) Remaining shots: Christina Artwell , owner of The Artwell Creative