Over the past 12 years, Tommy McClure has created opportunities for himself and others in Columbus at the intersection of fashion, film, and design. I’ve asked him to let us peek behind the curtain to see how various disciplines integrate to reinforce each other. Since arriving in Columbus in 2005, he has been Director and Partner of the Heyman Talent Agency, Founder and Executive Director of Fashion Week Columbus, Executive Director of the Columbus Film Commission, and, most recently, Director of Business Development for OneKreate. I met him in his role with the Film Commission, but I was intrigued because of all the other places he has shown up.
I understand your time at the Columbus Film Commission was a turnaround exercise. How has the Commission changed through and since your leadership?
As their executive director, I was tasked with reactivating the non-profit organization. It was badly needed, as Cleveland and Cincinnati were getting all the Ohio films due to them being active and available for local and visiting film productions. Reactivating Film Columbus included: obtaining city funding, creating a working new website, restructuring and reforming the board of directors, developing programs focused on local filmmakers, rebranding the organization, developing PR opportunities, and making sure the phones and emails were answered when film productions would contact the office. This was a lot to accomplish within a three year time period, and it was all accomplished.
Films like Aftermath (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Wrath (John Travolta), and Bad Grandpa (Johnny Knoxville) most likely wouldn’t have filmed here, if we didn’t have an active Columbus Film Commission available and ready to take their calls. The film commission serves as a central resource for local and visiting productions while also promoting Central Ohio as a filming destination.
John Travolta’s film “I Am Wrath” included filming at the Ohio State House
What attracts these projects here, Tommy?
Some films chose Ohio, most likely for the Ohio Film Tax Incentive. This is an important factor for productions choosing cities to work in. Columbus may have been chosen due to the ease of transportation, central location to the rental houses, central location to the union crew pulled from Cincinnati and Cleveland, and of course because Columbus is such a diverse city. However, having a Film Commission in place for visiting productions to utilize is also important. The Film Commission can help guide productions when it comes to location scouting, crew, and other resources. Funny story, the film Parker came to Columbus because they needed to film during a state fair and Columbus was their choice as it was hard to find other state fairs in the US during that production time.
From an outside perspective, your various projects seem like something to launch on the East or West Coast. How did you end up building your vision in heart-of-America Columbus?
It all started at the Heyman Talent Agency, where I was able to quickly figure out the inner workings of both the modeling industry and filming industry through booking talent for various local and national projects. I soon realized how much Columbus needed a Fashion Week and started putting all the pieces together.
You recently finished Fashion Week Columbus 2017. I understand that’s about more than clothes and runways. How is the community benefitting from this series of events?
Yes. Fashion Week Columbus is about much more than the clothes and the Runway Shows. Fashion Week Columbus is a non-profit organization that’s helping local fashion
designers and fashion design students through developing programs and providing scholarships. We consider our Finale Runway Show a program, as it serves the purpose of spotlighting local fashion designers and connects them with buyers and the press. Throughout Fashion Week, we also partner with other non-profit organizations to help bring awareness to their mission and to help them raise funds through the way of a fashion event/program. Fashion Week Columbus is one of few non-profit fashion weeks in the nation.
8th ANNUAL FINALE RUNWAY SHOW at Brewmasters Gate, Columbus OH
Karina Nova Board Member WBNS-10TV – Host of the event
Scott Schweitzer President Strategy Group Media with two other guests
Thomas McClure Founder/Exec Director Fashion Week Columbus and Janna Yeshanova
A few of the 800+ guests who attended the event
Take us through what a typical day looks like for you.
There is no typical day! Ha! But, since I’ve joined OneKreate (full-service production studio specializing in photography, videos, and design) as their Director of Business Development, my days are much more consistent. I’m basically working two full-time jobs (Fashion Week Columbus and OneKreate), so I must keep everything organized and be flexible with meetings even if it’s a weekend meeting request. I do try to hold the rule I set for myself several years ago: no meetings on Mondays. Sometimes my days are full of meetings and other days I’m endlessly answering emails. On some days you could catch me meeting with a client needing photography or video from OneKreate or a sponsor interested in being part of Fashion Week Columbus. This past Sunday, I emceed a sold-out fashion event gala (not an FWC event) showcasing and honoring local fashion designers and models. Yesterday, I was moving FWC’s items from a 3rd-floor storage unit to a 1st-floor storage unit. I get my hands dirty too!
What are you planning to do in your latest role as Director of Business Development at OneKreate?
I joined OneKreate in May of 2017 as their Director of Business Development, focusing on developing relationships with new clients while also engaging with the Columbus community through partnerships. OneKreate is part of the largest network of creative studios in the world. It’s my goal to elevate OneKreate in Central Ohio as a premier creative studio, working with both large and small clients.
As a content creation studio, OneKreate and Fashion Week Columbus’s partnership was a perfect marriage. Fashion Week Columbus utilizes a lot of imagery and video to platform the mission and to showcase our designers. OneKreate was excited to be the content creation partner with Fashion Week Columbus because of the heart put into the organization and the programs/events. The day of the FWC17 Look Book shoot was one of those magical days spent in OneKreate’s 25K square foot studio space.
Models, designers, hair professionals, makeup professionals, stylists, creative directors, and photographers all came together to produce the 2017 Fashion Week Columbus Look Book. The hustle and bustle in the studio created an unexplainable energy that drives a project like this from conception to the final product. The FWC17 Look Book is the best Look Book we’ve produced yet, and much of the success is because of OneKreate’s amazing team.
Fashion Week Columbus was lucky to have OneKreate on board as a creative partner for all photo, video, and design needs. The level of talent and expertise at OneKreate can be seen in the FWC17 Look Book and the FWC17 Designer Interview Videos and Finale Show opening video.
I understand that the Runway event is a fundraiser. What did do with the proceeds
Fashion Week Columbus is actually a program, as it serves our local and student fashion designers. Much of the funds go towards creating professional productions to showcase our designers. We have many in-kind partners which help us save dollars. This year, we gave a $5000 scholarship check to a CCAD student, which will greatly help her with her Senior Collection.
Natalia Monserrate (CCAD Fashion Design Student) was awarded the Easton Fashion Week Columbus 2017 Scholarship presented by Sprite (amount of $5000) on the runway with Shannon Hardin (City Councilmember), Karina Nova (10TV), Scott Schweitzer (FWC Board President), and Thomas McClure (FWC Founder/Exec Director).
What can we be watching for from you in the near future?
In 2018, the FWC board and I are developing a new organization, the “Columbus Fashion Council”. FWC will fall under this new organization as a program. Also, FWC17 Fashion Designer Gerardo Encinas and I will be taking over the Columbus Creative Industry Mixer for 2018, bringing this event back to its roots.
What do you think you’ll be doing in five years? Do you have a vision for the community?
Honestly, I have no clue. Planning this far ahead restricts organic creativity and innovation. Maybe I’m a rebel like that. Ha! However, I do hope to see Columbus play a much more spotlighted role in the fashion world. We have all the right ingredients to make this happen. And Fashion Week Columbus (or the Columbus Fashion Council) will most definitely play a large role.
Do you have any thoughts to take your projects beyond Central Ohio?
Sometimes. We shall see what happens.
How do you select projects and businesses to participate in? Some people have a detailed plan. Others follow their nose. Which are you?
My gut. Seriously, I’m well in tune with my spirit…my gut. Trust it.
As a Director and Producer, what is the biggest part of your job? What do you like and dislike most?
The biggest part of my job is project management. All committee chairs report to me as the Executive Director. They’re empowered to run their own committees and make decisions for the betterment of the organization. Keep in mind though, the committee chairs and members are all volunteers. At the end of the day, I have to put my stamp of approval on major decisions or offer solutions/suggestions. There are a lot of moving pieces that must all stay in sync for FWC to be successful.
Do you have any tips on balancing or managing projects?
Surround yourself with those that can do what you can’t do.
Surround yourself with those that can do what you can’t do.
Are there specific personality characteristics that contribute to your success in these roles?
Passion, Positive Attitude, Confidence, Ability to Manage, Adaptability.
Has social media changed the way you do business?
It wasn’t too long ago when I refused to conduct business on messenger, text, LinkedIn message, Facebook, Instagram message, etc… only through email and phone call. Now, I conduct business on all listed platforms! Convenience is highly valued in our busy world.
“Convenience is highly valued in our busy world.” ~ Tommy McClure
Is there anything specific that inspires your passion?
Beautiful and delicious food. Culture. Much like fashion, food creation is also art.
I have heard conflicting stories about you and restaurants. In one, you vowed never to go back into the restaurant industry. In the other, you talk about owning your own restaurant/bistro someday.
Although I swore to never get back into the restaurant industry, maybe I should’ve added that only if I owned the restaurant. Culinary Arts is a passion of mine. My Instagram is all about Food, Fashion, and Fun. There are lots of images of the cuisines I’ve prepared for myself and for others. I find that creating in the kitchen is another way to communicate with people as it says so much about you as an individual and it immediately lets your guests feel the love you’ve put into their meals. Not to toot my own horn, but I have a skill of creating cuisines (even first attempts at a new recipe) with ease and having them turn out incredibly delicious. The next chapter in my life will include culinary arts.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“There is nothing permanent except change.” ~ Heraclitus
“There is nothing permanent except change.” ~ Heraclitus
If you could offer a message that could reach everyone in the world, what would you say?
Be more empathetic to others. With more empathy, the world could get rid of hate and discrimination.
Tommy, thanks for your visit! I am wishing you a happy 2018! How can people get in touch with you? (websites, phone, email, whatever you want them to know.)
www.FashionWeekColumbus.org – email@example.com
www.OneKreate.com – Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org