We speak with the trio on how VNF Productions (@vnfproductions) came to be and why it is a necessary division within the fashion industry.
What services do VNF Productions provide to its clients?
– Noah Love: Part of our initial rollout has been built around runway production for designers. We understand how extensive this process can be, so we take away that “stress.” We do everything from casting models, venue scouting, providing full beauty team, social media marketing, and PR via our wonderful publicist and her team Access PR.
With each season, we will be able to roll out new services. With this next season, we are providing Brand Advisement. The goal is to offer a full in house operation.
Here’s a list of what to expect from VNF:
- Brand Development and Management
- Social Media Marketing across all channels
- Influencer Marketing – comprised off 4 Market targets
- Set Design
- Full Photography / Videography Production
- Lookbook Design and Production
- LA Fashion Week / Miami Swim Week / Art Basel
- Model Management
- Digital Platforms dedicated to e-commerce, online courses, consults, and client database.
- 360 Representation – Our clients will benefit far beyond the runway.
We will give them space to thrive. We are working every day to perfect our craft, build our team, and bring more to VNF. We don’t believe in limiting ourselves, nor do we believe in limiting our clients.
What specific skills and experiences within each of your individual backgrounds caused you to see the opportunity to create VNF Productions?
– Vena Smith: I have a strong background in independent fashion presentations and runway shows. However, my primary experience is a creative direction for fashion photography & music videos.
Under my other business, VENAVISUALS, I’ve been published in Taji Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Elegant Magazine, Solis Magazine, and more. I’ve also directed music videos that have premiered on Cinematic TV and BET Her Network, including heavy rotation on VH1.
For five consecutive seasons, I worked with AMCONYC during New York Fashion Week for PR and production, which is actually how I met both Noah and Floresca. It seemed inevitable that we would end up working together at such capacity.
– Noah Love: I’ve done everything from modeling to brand development to include product development, design, runway coordination, runway coaching, and so on. I’ve worked with companies like AMCONYC, Fashion Week Brooklyn, WalkFashion, and I’ve worked with individual designers- Lovello Elizabeth, Romeo Hunte, and Erica Walcott, NY. I’ve never not done this. Now, I get to do it with my friends.
I’m self-taught when it comes to brand development, product development (management as well). I guess it also helps that I own and operate a modeling agency, iA Models NYC.
– Floresca Isme: I started in the fashion industry as a model. About six years into my modeling career, I fell in love with the design process and started my own brand ETANA New York. This is how I came to partner with Noah. He assisted me with the launch of my handbag line. In the end, all of our paths aligned, and the three of us joined forces.
In starting VNF Productions, what need or change were you looking to satisfy in the fashion industry, especially in this current state? Have your views on those needs shifted in any way?
– Vena Smith: Inclusivity and representation are vital to me. I grew up in London, England, and hardly saw anyone on the TV or in a magazine I could relate to.
The industry has improved, but not to where it should be in 2019. It’s still quite behind. One of our goals is to be able to create a space where everyone can be seen. Representation plays a significant role in the development of our future.
– Noah Love: I know my focus was bringing back the purpose of NYFW. Designer’s showcase every year, sometimes 3-4 times a year, and see no return. I want that to change. I specifically knew that I wanted VNF to be an ally to designers, emerging designers, designers of color, and designers without equal opportunity. That goal hasn’t changed. We’ve seen the benefit of what we provide.
Our designers aren’t just interviewing with magazines, blogs, or media overall. They see a growth in their following and the interest of their designs. Our designers came to us as emerging brands and leave the runway validated, and with demand.
– Floresca Isme: The change I want to see is in the experience aspect. When I started modeling, I experienced moments that made me feel like I was not enough as a Black model. Working with hair and makeup teams that did not care to educate themselves on what products to use or not use.
As the Beauty Director, I pride myself on being able to pick creatives that do care. I want to have models feel just as beautiful and just as important as their counterparts.
VNF Productions during this past NYFW certainly left a great impression. What is a moment that you are proud of within your team?
– Vena Smith: The past several months have been an incredible and fulfilling journey for me. I felt most proud when it was time to break down and load out. I recall a brief moment where I stood still and took it all in amidst the chaos. I looked around the room, and every single person we had on board not only did their job but exceeded it.
Everyone was elated to be involved in any capacity. We worked hard, and it showed. We are still receiving thank you emails, postcards, and direct messages on social media about their experience, whether it was a member of the staff or an attendee. It means the world to have such an impact on so many people.
– Noah Love: There was a moment when I stood at the front of house, a member of our hired AV team said to me “I’ve never worked an event so well thought out and managed, you guys are really awesome.” This was impactful because this was a man who worked for people like Alicia Keys, Jeremy Scott, and other large production companies (companies I looked up to). For me, this affirmed what I already believed, that as a team, we can do so many great things!
The idea that three young people of color entered this world, this industry with such an impression. That makes me weep with joy. Had you asked me prior, if was this possible, I may have hesitated with a “maybe” as a response. Now, looking back at the impact, I’m overjoyed because people feel empowered to create!
– Floresca Isme: The moment for me that solidified everything was when one of our volunteers came to me and said, “This was an amazing experience. I’ve learned so much from you all and hope to come back.” It was a 12-hour day for some of our volunteers. It’s at that moment that I realized we did something great!
By providing a space for designers and creatives, VNF Productions has opened up new doors. Are there any projects that your audience should pay attention to in the coming year?
– Vena Smith: Yes! We are currently coordinating our annual Master Model Tour beginning in December. This tour is a workshop for models providing them with the necessary skills, tips, and insight to become a successful model in the industry regardless of their city, genre, skin color, status, etc.
We will hold the event in Miami, Washington, DC, and of course, our home, New York City. We have already gotten requests from other states, so we will certainly keep expanding our reach each year.
– Noah Love: Our February production of NYFW, of course. We’ve switched location, from our home in Brooklyn (Dumbo) to Manhattan. Though we pride ourselves on being in Dumbo, we want to show our range, so we are bringing our talent to the epicenter of Fashion Week.
What are some of the challenges that you faced in launching VNF Productions? What advice would you give to those creatively involved in the fashion industry to avoid common pitfalls?
– Vena Smith: Balancing our schedules outside of VNF was a new challenge. All 3 of us own businesses outside of this one, and of course, our personal lifestyle and family come into play.
Life is random, but it’s about balance and commitment. When you want something to work, you simply find a way to make it work. It’s not easy, but that’s entrepreneurship. I’m fortunate to be a part of a strong team that gets it.
– Noah Love: Our biggest challenge, in my opinion, was financial, honestly. We had all these big ideas with a stringent budget. However, we never wavered in our vision. We knew what we wanted, we knew what our clients wanted, and so we made it happen. The only advice I can continue to give is- DO IT! Find solutions – there’s always a way. Focus on creating a way to get it done. I promise it’ll happen.
In choosing designers and creatives that you participate with, what specific qualities do you look for that causes you to move forward in the partnership?
– Vena Smith: I’m always looking for passion and preparation. Both go hand in hand for me. You can be the most talented person in the world, but it won’t matter if you are not prepared to execute or produce. Every person involved in a production counts, whether you’re a volunteer or the designer. When going through submissions, we make it a point to ask if the designer is prepared to handle post productions – inventory demand, media, etc. When hiring, we want to know your intention behind working with us. “Why should we be a part of each other’s journey?” Every person contributes to the overall success.
– Noah Love: Yeah, passion, and preparation are essential. Vena is correct. I’m personally looking for an “IT” factor, a reason behind the passion, the story behind the “Why.” It’s these things that separate the doers from the dreamers. It’s the difference between winning daily and getting choked up with simple challenges.
When it comes to partnerships, it all depends on the mission of the company, the targeted goal, or the message. It matters to us that everyone we work with has an understanding of the world we live in today, has an idea of how to change it, and how to add value.
Amongst your team, what would you say is a common motivator for each of you working together towards a shared vision?
– Vena Smith: I hate to bring up the word again, but I have a passion for what I do. Self-motivation comes easily to me. I’m also a firm believer in maintaining the standard once it’s set. That’s something we thankfully have in common.
I enjoy the chaos just as much as I enjoy the results. I’m always thinking of the bigger picture and how to achieve it. The more VNF expands, the more opportunities we will be able to provide for people who started out like us. We have found our purpose and alignment as a team.
– Noah Love: I love what I do. That’s it. I honestly am motivated by building something from the very ground. It’s what I do daily; from working with new models, advising small businesses, managing new brands; it’s all uniquely inspirational.
I think it’s also because I find the challenge of learning new skill sets exciting! I never say I can’t do something, I don’t make excuses, I do it, I learn it, I ask questions, and I DELIVER EVERY TIME!
The team holds each other accountable! I love that, though sometimes I cry at my desk – No, I’m kidding – but we are hard on each other because the reason we do this is so much bigger than us. We do this work because we want to provide opportunities and experiences for those coming up behind us.
This is our way of serving the community of fashion; the students, young designers, fashionistas, creatives, all of them! VNF is a family of hard-working creatives.
– Floresca Isme: I love what I do! Growing up working in the fashion industry was a dream. I went from being a model to being a part of the process of full production. It’s been a significant learning experience for me daily. I get excited when I learn something new and can apply it. Being a part of a supportive team that shares the same vision and goal to create opportunities and platforms for creatives is an honor.
VNF Productions is beginning its MASTER MODEL TOUR on December 6, 2019, running until December 20, 2019. The tour will be across three cities: Miami, NYC, and Washington, DC, where you will have the opportunity to meet with local agencies, network among industry professionals, and receive intensive runway training.
For more details, click the link here.