Tracy Reese, founder of the Detroit-based sustainable brand Hope For Flowers and world-renowned stylist to former first lady Michelle Obama, is introducing a new youth program, called Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment Program.
The free program will launch this fall at The Hope For Flowers studios located at 7375 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
“The reason I want to offer free Saturday art classes is that I enjoyed regular Saturday classes as a child growing up in Detroit,” Reese says. “It made a tremendous difference to my understanding and enjoyment of the arts and culture and opened the door for me to have a creative career.”
Starting this fall, the studio will offer Detroit children and adults free weekend and evening classes and workshops. While focused on art enrichment, the curriculum is written to foster local, creative talent while also building life skills and reviving sustainable life practices that have historically and intrinsically been part of Black culture.
“I started the Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment program because I wanted to create more opportunities for Detroit’s youth to experience art and culture without the burden of having to pay for specialized classes,” says Reese. “As a child growing up in Detroit, I had amazing exposure to Detroit’s rich cultural community. I want to be a part of creating these same types of opportunities for today’s Detroit youth.”
She adds that the program will allow Detroit’s children to expand the possibilities of their lives and careers in the arts beyond what they currently imagine.
“We want to help them ‘color their worlds.’ I believe that experiencing the arts enhances our view of the world and our place in it and gives us agency to create rich and vibrant lives.”
Reese says she started Hope For Flowers because she wanted to have a “responsibly-designed brand that treads lightly on this earth.”
“It’s my mission to have a brand and a business that is kind to people and to the planet.”
She says that it was also her dream to produce clothing in Detroit — her hometown. Reese, a graduate of Cass Technical High School was also a Parsons School of Design student. She worked at several top design houses before launching her own label.
“The lion’s share of our collection is produced overseas, but we are going to start producing products right here in Detroit,” Reese speaks in a video interview. Reese reveals that she hopes to develop relationships and collaborate with local Detroit artists to raise their visibility.
Reese was a household name when Michelle Obama, then the first lady, wore several of her dresses during a visit in Hawaii in 2011. Obama wore Reese’s designs on several other occasions as well, including her much-celebrated 2012 Democratic National Convention speech. Reese also designed dresses for Taylor Swift and Sarah Jessica Parker. Her brand is also available in Anthropologie as well as Saks Fifth Avenue.
Reese said that she will offer classes free of cost to students at Detroit Public Schools as part of the new art program.
This will encourage creativity and increase awareness about sustainability. Reese will also offer workshops for community engagement that are open to all ages.
“Building sustainability in communities of color starts by changing the narrative that sustainability is an elitist concept,” On her website, she states that. “We plan to embed lessons and examples of sustainability in all classes and workshops offered. Hope for Flowers artisans will be involved in teaching classes to illustrate how artists from the neighborhood can both work in and give back to the communities where they live.”
Classes will be free to participants and take place every Saturday at the Hope for Flowers design studio. For more information or to register for The Hope for Flowers Art Enrichment Program visit the website.