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Connie Fails, of Litchfield, Illinois, attended Southern Missouri State University where she was introduced to weaving which lead to an interest in vintage fabric and ultimately fashion design.

1n 1976, she left her job at a Little Rock stock brokerage firm and opened a small clothing boutique. Her original designs and finely crafted garments attracted a wide and loyal following both in Little Rock and posh boutiques as far away as New York City. In 1978 she met a new client, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Fails made Clinton’s first Gubernatorial inaugural gown that is now on permanent display in Arkansas' historic Old State House. Twelve years later, Bill Clinton was elected president and Fails designed Mrs. Clinton’s inaugural pants suit. Mrs. Clinton also wore several other Connie Fails designs for the inaugural ball and other festivities that week.

In 2004, Fails accepted the position of Manager of the Clinton Museum Store. She has developed and managed several student mentoring projects including Curbside Couture— an annual program of creatively recycled fashions designed by high school students that culminates in a gala runway show at the Clinton Presidential Center and now provides scholarships. Connie Fails has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Vanity Fair, People, Today Show, Good Morning America. 

Listen to the podcast to learn:

  • How Connie got kicked out of therapy
  • How to take a leap of faith
  • About Curbside Couture (where one Saturday Night Live designer got their start)

Podcast Links

Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com

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EPISODE 99

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:03.2] CC: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Stay tuned ‘til the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.

Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

[INTERVIEW]

[0:00:21.8] KM: Thank you, Chris. If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. It's fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. It's reality radio.

Today, as with really every day, a lot is going on. For all you audio followers out there, we are still playing with our new toy, the sling studio. There are one, two, three, four, five people in here playing with the sling studio. This hardware, in case you don't know is new to the industry and I believe it will soon revolutionize the quality of live streaming on YouTube, Facebook and all those other platforms. I think we're going to get a lot of amateurs turning pro with this new piece of software, sling studio. Anyway, you can see it in action if you want to on our flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page right now if you go there.

We also have a new co-host. In case you heard him, he just opened up the show; Chris Colton. Say hello to Chris Colton.

[0:01:18.1] CC: Hello.

[0:01:19.8] KM: Y’all everybody, our listeners may remember you from B98 a few years ago.

[0:01:25.1] CC: Uh-huh.

[0:01:25.6] KM: Yup.

[0:01:26.3] CC: Yup.

[0:01:26.8] KM: Welcome to the team, Chris.

[0:01:27.8] CC: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

[0:01:28.4] KM: You’re welcome. This show Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy began as a platform for me a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would appeal to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but it seems to have had a wider audience appeal. Because after all, who isn’t inspired by everyday people's American-made stories?

It's no secret that successful people work hard, but a discovery I find interesting is that many, many of my guests have a spiritual bent. They believe in a higher power, thus enabling them to be risk-takers. Now this next discovery really caught me by surprise; almost all my guests have the heart of a teacher, and today's guest is no exception. Last, that business in of itself is creative, more so than really, I've really ever thought, but it is.

Creative is an adjective frequently used for today's guest, Miss Connie Fails, who is well-known in Little Rock, Arkansas for her clothing and fashion designs for the stars and us average folks too. Today, she is the manager of the Clinton Museum Store and founder and developer of Curbside Couture, a clothing design competition like none other. One unique requirement of the contest is that all designs must be made of recycled products and here comes the teacher part, the competitors are all students, high school age and below.

Go to flagandbanner.com/radioshow and click on Connie's bio to see a video of some of the extraordinary and very creative work that she inspires in these kids. Honestly, it will blow you away. Thank you Connie for sending it to me. I have enjoyed it. Everybody at Arkansas Flag and Banner has enjoyed it. It's really remarkable. I can't wait to talk with Connie about her life and all of her varied career paths, because she's had a lot.

If you're just listening for the first time, you may be asking yourself who is this lady talking and why should I listen? Well, Chris is here to tell you.

[0:03:22.6] CC: Over 40 years ago, with only $400 Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed dramatically from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing to mail order and catalog sales. Now Flag and Banner relies heavily on the internet, including its newest feature, live chatting.

With time and experience, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing this knowledge on her weekly blog. Today, she's used her learned skills to found the nonprofit, Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, as well as the in-house publication Brave Magazine, and now this very production.

Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send an e-mail to questions@upyourbusiness.org. That's questions@upyourbusiness.org . Or post a comment on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook.

[0:04:36.4] KM: Thank you, Chris. Is he not awesome?

[0:04:38.8] CF: He is awesome. I love it.

[0:04:41.2] KM: I mean, really.

[0:04:42.2] CC: I've done it a few times.

[0:04:44.1] KM: Yeah. I'm going to turn the show over to him. I'm going to get out of the way. Thank you again, Chris. Many of you will remember my guest today when she founded and ran her own clothing store, in fact at the break-in a minute or in 10-minute mark break, I'm going to – if you're on Facebook, I'm going to show you one of her designs. I'm wearing her skirt in the studio today.

She ran her own clothing store in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was simply called Connie Fails. For decades, Connie's original designs and excellent eye for buying fashion brought her a wide and loyal following, like I said, me, not just in Little Rock, but as far away as small boutiques in the Big Apple. Connie one day we're going to have a fashion show of all your stuff here in Little Rock. I can see that in the future and I want to be a part of it. I have a closet full of your clothes.

In 1978, Connie met and became friends with Hillary Rodham Clinton and was asked to make her first gubernatorial inaugural gown that is now on permanent display in the Arkansas Old State House Museum. 12 years later, Bill Clinton would be elected president and Connie had the honor of designing Mrs. Clinton's inaugural pantsuit and other ensembles for the inaugural festivities. Now that's some pressure.

It was early in the 21st century that Connie decided to close her clothing store Connie Fails and accepted the position of manager of the Clinton Museum Store. Along with running the Clinton Store, she has developed a most unusual fashion show competition called Curbside Couture. Students of all ages participate in this annual fashion design program. The main rule is their garment creation must be made using recycled materials of any kind. It all culminates in a gala runway show at the Clinton Presidential Center and provides scholarships. Now is the time to get your application in, ain’t that right?

[0:06:33.0] CF: Yes.

[0:06:34.7] KM: We'll talk about that today on the show and learn more about how you can either get tickets to go and attend, which I think it's almost always sold out, or how you can apply for an application to become part of it.

It is a pleasure to welcome to the table my creative, hard-working and long-time friend, Miss Connie Fails.

[0:06:50.7] CF: Thank you, Kerry. Very excited to be here.

[0:06:53.2] KM: Thank you for coming on. I always say this about my guests, I've known you for years, but I really never knew you. You went to Southern Missouri State University, is it Litchfield?

[0:07:04.5] CF: No, I was born in Litchfield. SMS as it was called then in Springfield Missouri.

[0:07:08.8] KM: Oh, okay. You were born in Illinois, went to school in Southern Missouri State University. What was your degree?

[0:07:17.3] CF: I was born in Illinois, but my dad was a traveling salesman. In the first grade, he got transferred to Arkansas.

[0:07:23.4] KM: What?

[0:07:24.1] CF: I lived in Paris, Arkansas, Forrest City, Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and then he got transferred to Missouri and then Oklahoma City and I stayed in Little Rock. He got transferred after that. I stayed in Little Rock. I loved Arkansas as a grown person.

[0:07:39.7] KM: What your dad sell?

[0:07:41.5] CF: Pardon?

[0:07:42.0] KM: What your dad sell?

[0:07:43.1] CF: He worked for the Rexall Drug Company.

[0:07:46.4] KM: He’s a pharmaceutical rep, I guess?

[0:07:47.9] CF: We could call that today, but back in the day he was traveling all over Arkansas in his ‘54 Ford, going to little drug stores that were in every little corner of Arkansas, tiny little towns and stuff. It was more than just pharmaceuticals. It would be – their big thing was vitamin, Plenamins, they were called.

[0:08:05.8] KM: What were they called?

[0:08:07.2] CF: Super Plenamins.

[0:08:09.1] KM: Oh, learn something new every day. Never heard of that one before. You ended up going to school in Missouri.

[0:08:14.1] CF: Yes.

[0:08:14.6] KM: What was your degree in?

[0:08:15.7] CF: Art. I started out studying weaving, but – well, I started out actually studying painting and drawing. Then I found out that they had a weaving department, which I'd never heard of. I thought, “Wow, I think like that.” I moved my major to weaving. Then when I was out of school, I was still weaving and I had moved to Little Rock, back to Little Rock and I was teaching, and they had a weaving guild in Little Rock at that time. Then and I had looms in a little house on Monroe Street, I had floor looms and lap looms and every loom.

I was doing craft fairs and then I got really bored with it. I thought, “Maybe I need to take a workshop, or something that will get me excited.” I went to Pennsylvania for a weaver's conference and signed up for this workshop and the woman walked in the room and she said, “Well, I know you're all here to do weaving, but actually I'm pretty sick of it.” I moved to Denmark on a little island, because I didn't want to weave anymore. She was chairman of Moore College in Pennsylvania and she said – now you have to remember, this is 1975 maybe. She said, “I’m so sick of weaving,” then I started going to essentially a yard sale in Denmark and buying old sheets and linens and things and making clothes.

I thought, “Ah, I think I just connected with that. I know how to do that. I know how to do that. I'm excited again.” I came back to Little Rock in the mid-70s and started going to yard sales, estate sales buying pillowcases, doilies, everything and started making clothing. Sold all my looms. I did that for about three years. Did the old Montessori craft fair that some people remember it was in Robinson Auditorium. A woman in Memphis, and I call her the woman with the James Bond name, Babi Levitt.

[0:09:56.7] KM: Babi. Yup.

[0:09:57.6] CF: Babi Levitt was over, because she was always seeking out new artists and something exciting, and she had a eclectic store in Memphis. Then after she had the eclectic store, she had a very Sheik store with very designer types of clothing and she still bought my stuff, but she came and I had taken a break from my little booth and I came back and I said, “What happened?” The person watching my booth said, “We sold all your stuff.” I said –

[0:10:22.9] KM: To who? Right, to Bab.

[0:10:24.7] KM: To Bab. To Babi. Yeah. I caught up with her and she left her card and I called her and she said, “I just like you to drive over to Memphis and talk to me about what you're doing.” I said, “I'll do that.” I went over to Memphis and I was in my 20s and went into her lovely office, which was so Sheik and stylish. If you even look at my office today, it's an artist's office, it's got stuff piled up and it's everywhere.

She looked at me and she said, “Have you ever heard of a store called Henri Bendels in New York?” I said, “No.” She said, “Well you will.” Fast forward from that, in about four or five years from that, I guess I was in Henri Bendel's Christmas catalog with my clothing.

[0:11:08.0] KM: You were making these clothing out of sheets?

[0:11:10.4] CF: At that point, I transitioned into using scraps, because I was buying fabric by then and I was using the scraps to make my signature mark garment, which was a kimono. I was making things that you may have bought in my store, dress, shirt and I'll say here, it's just so – it's nostalgic and it's funny and it's comforting, even in the museum store when people will walk in and some people won't know that I'm doing that, and I'll say, “Hello.” They go, “Look, I'm wearing your dress.”

[0:11:44.5] KM: Today?

[0:11:45.4] CF: Yes. So many people like you are still –

[0:11:47.9] KM: Like me.

[0:11:48.5] CF: It’s just like, “Really? Are you as crazy?” Anyway, when I was making those dresses, those pants, those shirts, I had a had big boxes full of the scraps, because I was always recycling in my life. My great-grandmother worked in the garment district in Decatur, Illinois. When everybody went to visit and they wanted to get rid of me she'd say, “Connie Lee, go to the basement and dig in the scraps,” so I did. I was six or something like that. That's how curbside was a natural evolution.

[0:12:16.2] KM: Yeah, really.

[0:12:17.2] CF: I just thought, “I can't throw these little pieces of synthetic beautiful-looking silk, or the real silk away.” I thought, “What do I love? What is most about me?” Issey Miyake in Japan, I thought, “I'm going to try kimono. I'm going to make a kimono that's mine, the way I would make a kimono.” That launched my career with Henri Bendel's.

[0:12:42.4] KM: It's lovely the way you use fabrics, so the front will be one fabric, the arms will be another fabric, the back will be another. Sometimes even the front will have two different patterns on the front, the top and the bottom. Mine does. I have two of them.

[0:12:52.7] CF: That was my signature mark too of mixing things when people didn't do that. How I raised a child that always wants her, she's de métro dress and her shirt and everything, I have no clue.

[0:13:01.8] KM: Let's talk about –

[0:13:02.3] CF: That's what our children are like.

[0:13:03.2] KM: Let's talk about your children.

[0:13:04.5] CF: Okay. We’ll do it.

[0:13:05.8] KM: Nobody probably – this is what makes – you are a true hippie. I knew you when you're a true hippie and you had your store above the run of the mill, and we'll talk about that after the break, but you also have adopted two children. Tell everybody about your children. This just speaks volumes about Connie Fails.

[0:13:26.1] CF: Oh, well. The diagnosis for me was infertile. I’m like, “Okay.”

[0:13:32.3] KM: But not true.

[0:13:33.9] CF: Turned out to be not true. That's what they say happens, so be careful when you go camping. My friend who was a therapist who was – I mean, when people can't have a child and they really want to have a child, and I'm going to tell you what that really means in a second, it's just heartbreaking, and you're trying to cope with it and figure out how to get over that, or where do you go, or what do you do.

Finally, I thought my friend and I was paying her. I would pay you to help me with this deal. She got so frustrated and she stood up one day and she said, “This is our last session. Here's what I know.”

[0:14:11.3] KM: This is your fertility doctor?

[0:14:12.8] CF: No, this is my – a therapist. Who was my good friend also. I said, “Help me. Help me get over this.” She stood up and she said, “This is our last session and here's what I want to say to you. What you really want to do is parent, and I know you'll figure out how.” That got me. I went away and I thought, “Yeah, that's it. I don't have any bias about anything.” I don't choose color, ethnicity, race, gender, that wasn't on my plate.

I thought, “Okay, I'm going to go do an adoption.” Then it was interesting to find out how hard it was to do adoption. I'm Jewish, so if you're Jewish somebody on the other side doesn't want to give you something that you're going to raise like that. Then I'm converted, although my family history was Jewish on my father's side, which doesn't count. That didn't work out very well. I thought that, “You know what? I'm just going to another country.”

At that point, Korea was doing a lot of adoptions. I put my application in, it took more than a year. In the meantime, Hillary was my friend already and I said, “I need you to write a letter of recommendation about what kind of parent you think I’ll be.” She says, “Okay.” Then I said – she says to who? I told her where it was. She said, “Why aren't you adopting here in the states?” I said, “Oh, we can have a learning lesson on this one together, so you need to know where that is.” Our children were stuck in foster care, DHS, they were just stuck because of reasons that couldn't get signed off on.

Anyway, I adopted Hannah and she arrived in Memphis as a 14-month-old, and I arrived in Memphis to pick her up as four months pregnant. New law with the adoption agency, you got to fess up if you got a bun in the oven, so it’s okay. Hannah arrived August 12th and Noah arrived January 25th.

[0:16:09.2] KM: I'll be darned. You didn't stop there.

[0:16:12.2] CF: I didn't stop there.

[0:16:13.0] KM: You decided to do it one more time. You adopted one more child.

[0:16:15.0] CF: I did it one more time.

[0:16:15.9] KM: This is unbelievable that you did this.

[0:16:17.6] CF: My friend Susan who has adopted in 1954 and we'd lovingly call her the dinosaur of Korean adoptees, and we traveled a lot together. We travel to India, to Romania to do adoption work and I said to her one time, “I think I can do one more kid.” She goes, “Okay.” She calls me one day and she said, “FedEx is going to arrive at your doorstep today. First kid on the tape is yours.” I said, “Oh, great.” FedEx arrives, I put the VHS in, I turn the television on, I hear Susan's voice and I see this little girl, black hair, silky hair and Susan's voice is saying to the interpreter, “Tell her to put the cap on the pen.” The interpreter says in Thai, and the little girl doesn't look up. Then a little girl looks up. The interpreters told her three or four times, put the cap on the pin. The little girl looks up and goes – shaking her head side to side, no.

They pan back and show a little girl with no arms. She was putting the cap on the pen with her toes. I called Susan and I said – she said, “Oh, great. Did you get the tape?” I said, “I did,” story on me. I said, “What made you think I wanted a kid with a disability?” She said, “Oh, you must have missed her personality,” and she hung up on me.

[0:17:26.0] KM: Oh, wow.

[0:17:27.6] CF: About four years after that with a lot of legal work and stuff, I flew to Thailand with my husband and we picked Kate up. Kate turned 31 in July.

[0:17:38.7] KM: What made you decide that – you kept looking at the tape and thinking –

[0:17:42.9] CF: Oh, my heart was there immediately. Partly, I knew that culturally, I'm not sure how it is if life has moved forward, but in Thailand the worst thing you can do if you just want to tell somebody off, just take your shoe off and show them the bottom of your foot. I thought this child has no chance.

[0:17:58.8] KM: Because she has to do everything with her feet.

[0:18:00.4] CF: She has to do everything.

[0:18:01.4] KM: She literally eats with her feet. She's so incredibly –

[0:18:04.4] CF: Well, she drives – she drives a regular car with no special adaptations.

[0:18:09.1] KM: This girl's unbelievable.

[0:18:10.2] CF: She's tiny. She's about 4’9”, she weighs about 70 pounds. Quick story, if we have time for this, I was in Walmart one night with her and we were talking to each other and just pay attention, this has just been two years ago or something, we had a chat going on. People will stare at Kate. Kate really doesn't respond to it anymore. This guy was standing there and he just kept staring and kept staring. I’m like, “Okay, I'm going to make eye contact with this.” Hey. I said, “Did you have any questions?” He said yes. He looked at Kate and he said, “Did I see you driving a car the other day?” She said, “Yes.” That was like, “Okay.”

[0:18:47.5] KM: I love this girl. I’m glad

[inaudible 0:18:49.2]. She live in Little Rock? Where is she living?

[0:18:51.3] CF: She is. She lives in Little Rock.

[0:18:52.9] KM: All right. This is a great place to take a break. I love talking to you Connie. You're just a remarkable woman. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Connie Fails and her remarkable life. She's the clothing designer and she was a clothing designer. I guess, once a clothing designer, always a clothing designer. She's the manager of the Clinton Museum Store and facilitator of the Curbside Couture. We'll ask her about her honor and the pressure of designing an inaugural outfit for the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton and learn how you can compete or attend her Curbside Couture fashion show with clothes designed by students from 3rd to 12th grade using recycled products. We'll be back after the break.

[BREAK]

[0:19:38.5] CC: You're listening to Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you missed any part of the show, or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on Radio Show. Be proactive and join our e-mail list and like us on Facebook to get an early sneak peek of each week's guest. We'll be right back.

[0:20:03.4] KM: Thanks Chris. All right, we’re in Facebook. Let me show everybody my skirt. Can’t hear me on Facebook. This is live now –

[0:20:10.6] CF: A little closer. That's so funny. I still have that skirt too. Yup. There is a thing in the works to do something – a fashion show about all my clothes.

[0:20:42.6] KM: Oh, count me in.

[0:20:44.5] CF: Yeah, thank you.

[0:20:50.9] KM: All right. We ready?

[0:20:51.7] CC: You let me know when you want to come back. You ready?

[0:20:53.4] KM: We’re ready.

[0:20:54.5] CC: Hang on. I just knocked that. Sorry, my bad guys in there.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:21:00.9] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with Miss Connie Fails, manager of the Clinton Museum store and director of Curbside Couture, a fashion design competition in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before the break, we talked about Connie's life, how she started off going to school to be art, I guess a art student. Fell in love with weaving, then fell in love with recycling clothes before it was even fashionable. Got your designs picked up by – what was the name of that –

[0:21:29.1] CF: Henri Bendel’s.

[0:21:30.3] KM: Henri Bendel’s in New York City. Then I had her made tell her personal life about how she birth to child and adopted two children and how wonderful they all are and how exciting all of that was, and the complications about trying to adopt a child in the United States, which I've never done, so I don't know anything about. I hear some – I know back when you were trying to do it was hard, I don't know if it still is anymore.

[0:21:50.8] CF: It's gotten better.

[0:21:51.7] KM: Good. Connie Fails clothing store. When I met you, you were above run-of-the-mill, I bought a slip, I think it was probably made out of a sheet and it had trim on it that probably came from a pillowcase, and then you decided – you decided to move down the street. Tell us about how you start for all the entrepreneurs listening out here. How did you decide to start that business there? Where'd you get the money to do it and then how did you get that leap of faith to move down the street and open up your own store?

[0:22:21.3] CF: Yeah, it was a leap of faith, surely it was. It was the mid-70s and I worked for a brokerage firm. I was totally inappropriate for a brokerage firm.

[0:22:32.2] KM: Yeah. I read that in your bio. I was like, “A stockbroker in the 70s.” You should have hung in there, because the 80s were great. You'd be rich right now girl.

[0:22:40.9] CF: That was worse. I was really the mean person in the back that did the margin calls. If your account was below what we needed, I'm the one who gave the notice to you I needed a check for $20,000 or something. I wasn't very popular and I just didn't – I wasn't able to use my creativity. I used it at night and on the weekends. I had just met the person that would become my husband, Lesly Singer and he was – all for he said, “We just got to try it.”

The woman who was teaching that workshop in Pennsylvania came to visit a year after I did the workshop. She walked in and I said, “Well, I'm not weaving anymore. Here's what I'm doing.” She looked at me and she said, “Quit your day job.” That started the conversation in between Lesly and I. We were not married at that time. Could I just take that leap of faith? It was Arkansas and women dressed – didn't dress like I was doing.

[0:23:30.3] KM: Nobody dressed like you were doin.

[0:23:31.7] CF: George Worthon had enough faith in me that he gave me a $4,000 loan.

[0:23:37.5] KM: Signature loan probably. Back in the good old days.

[0:23:40.3] CF: Yes. I got those for a long time. The reason the Hillary thing came up is that I had opened my store in August.

[0:23:51.3] KM: Is this the one above the run-of-mill?

[0:23:52.4] CF: Above run-of-the-mill. In December, I had a little trunk show. It's the first time I've ever done that of some jewelry. The guy didn't want to take the jewelry home at night, so it stayed. It was Chinese silver, so it wasn't gems or anything like that. That night, I don't know if it's – we have no clue. We never found out how it happened, but someone broke in and arson the building.

I was standing out front of the building with the firemen, my whole upstairs was just charred and burned and run-of-the-mill below had all the water damage and some burn damage and everything. I was standing outside with the firemen discussing and the postman came, and he had a little tiny envelope. I thought, “That's weird. What is that? Looks like an invitation to a baby shower, or something.” I don't know anybody having a baby.

I'm standing there and I open it up and it said, “Dear Connie, you might recognize me if you saw me, but you may not know my name. My husband has just been elected governor. My name is Hillary Rodham and I'd like you to make my gown.”

[0:24:51.1] KM: You never even met her yet.

[0:24:52.8] CF: She’d been in the shop. She said, “I come to your shop and bring people from out of town, because I love them to see your store.”

[0:24:58.0] KM: Wow.

[0:24:59.0] CF: I actually had a woman who had a sewing business in an old mail truck, a big mail truck, and her name was Elora. She was from Ola, Arkansas and she had been coming around my studio saying, “I'll help you so a little bit.” I said, “I could use that.”

[0:25:14.2] KM: She's pull her truck right up your front door and sell out of the back of it?

[0:25:16.8] CF: Yeah. Well, she would come into my store some, but she had her thing all set up is this great studio. Unlike me, she's totally organized with everything folded and pins put away and everything. Now I didn't have a place to do that and I needed to make Hillary's gown. Elora pulled her mail truck into my driveway on Monroe Street down by War Memorial. We got a big long extension cord and plugged her into the house, and we did the first gown for – that’s the old Statehouse now.

[0:25:42.5] KM: Anybody that didn’t think business is creative. It's crazy. We hear those stories all the time. That's very –

[0:25:48.1] CF: It’s do what you got to do.

[0:25:49.2] KM: Very ingenious. You made her first gown out of a sewing machine, out of the back of this woman's mail truck.

[0:25:55.1] CF: Yes. That was it.

[0:25:57.2] KM: You just can’t make that stuff up. If I ride in –

[0:25:59.6] CF: Two wild girls. I mean, it all worked out.

[0:26:02.5] KM: Now it's on display at the old Statehouse.

[0:26:04.2] CF: It is.

[0:26:05.4] KM: When did you decide – did you decide to move down the street when the old mills house burned and your place burned? Is that what –

[0:26:12.3] CF: No, we restored it, but the person who owned run-of-the-mill wanted more room for the business she was doing. I actually needed more room. By that time I was ready to have a storefront right on the street. I found the little building that was up by Hocots, and Mr. Hocot still owned it and it was actually three different sections of building. I rented the first section and after about five years, I took over the second section and then eventually took over the third section, so I had the whole building at the time.

[0:26:43.9] KM: You had a seamstress there that was sewing on-site at that time.

[0:26:48.2] CF: I had a cutter, someone that did nothing but cut things from the patterns that I designed and made. Then I had anywhere from – I had two fabulous Ruby and Rose, so worth it, sewed for me forever, and occasionally, I would have a third sewer. It would depend on seasonally how busy that we were. I would design things, they would get cut, they would get made, then they would just come over into the retail store, be priced and people like you would come in and buy them.

[0:27:11.5] KM: Then you not just – you didn't just sew your designs. You also went to market and I have to say your eye for buying fashion was dead-on.

[0:27:19.4] CF: Thank you.

[0:27:20.1] KM: You're welcome. I still have some of those pieces. Can't put my big toe in them, I think they’re garland and I keep them.

[0:27:26.0] CF: I understand that too. I do have intuitively good eye about things, about buying things, about – I got the best compliment and I was standing there and didn't know I was going to get it from Scott McGee at a Christmas party, and he was introducing me to somebody who'd just moved to town. He said, “You don't know who this woman is,” he said, but she had the guts to do the first boutique in a Little Rock.

[0:27:51.2] KM: Is that true?

[0:27:52.1] CF: Yeah. That is so nice. Well, nobody did what I did. Nobody sewed, nobody had that bohemian boutique.

[0:27:57.1] KM: No, they didn’t.

[0:27:58.1] CF: That took a risk. In retrospect if you look, my store was right between. My store was the last store before you went to the height. It was nested right between Hillcrest and the heights, which were so yin and yang with each other too and what people's tastes were and how people lived.

[0:28:16.3] KM: Very much. That’s a great spot, wasn’t it?

[0:28:17.8] CF: Yeah.

[0:28:18.4] KM: There was the phone booth up in the heights, but they didn’t –

[0:28:20.3] CF: There was.

[0:28:21.4] KM: They didn't do any, like you said, they didn't do any sewing, or it was a type of boutique but it was nothing like yours.

[0:28:29.9] CF: Yeah. That was Bliss Thomas.

[0:28:31.4] KM: Bliss. That’s right.

[0:28:32.5] CF: Yeah, no one else did that, because I don't know, either maybe you had a – your mom had a sewer that did alterations, or something, but nobody –

[0:28:40.5] KM: Everybody sewed back then.

[0:28:41.7] CF: Yeah. No one took the risk to just go off and think that well, I don't know, that that very different –

[0:28:50.3] KM: Very different. Very Bohemian.

[0:28:51.8] CF: Not structured. Sewed your jackets on the outside, instead of inside, or you know. Yeah.

[0:28:57.1] KM: It's 12 years later and Bill Clinton has been asked to – has been made the President of the United States and you get to design another outfit that's going to be on the world stage. What an honor. How did that come about?

[0:29:10.3] CF: Well, you can imagine it was a big conversation with friends and family and stuff were saying, “Oh, maybe you'll get to do it again.” I said, “No, she's the First Lady of the United States. It's going to be Fifth Avenue.” I should have and that and I thought, “Are you not listening to your little voice about Hillary? Because she always supports artists. She's always supporting Arkansans.” The next exhibit at the library, which we might have one line about soon is in 1993, she did the first-ever American craft exhibit. She had craftsmen from over the United States.

Anyway, one day she called and she said, “So and so, and I would like to come by and talk to you for a few minutes.” This is after he'd been elected. I said, “Okay, that's great. I'll look forward to seeing you. Haven't seen you since the election and all that stuff.” They come in and the person with her is a whole lot younger, and is an aide and I can tell she's not – it's just not like in a conversation very much, too much. Hillary said, “Well, I'm going to ask you if you would do my clothing for the inaugural.” I said like, “Your clothing-clothing for the inaugural?” She said, “Yes.” She said, “Well, you know I have to do a lot of different things on several days. There will be five or six outfits a day, there'll be the inaugural suit, probably need a coat.” I said, “You don't like the cold. You probably need a hat.” She said, “Yeah, that's good.”

[0:30:27.6] KM: Did you do that blue hat and blue pantsuit?

[0:30:29.6] CF: It's not a pantsuit. She didn't have pantsuit on. She had a suit on. She had a rose-colored with a blue fleck in it suit. It was a straight skirt and a jacket and a shirt underneath it. I didn't realize that I chose a fabric before it became popular, that little Tweety fabric with the little square that everybody had a suit out of, and then everybody gave them to goodwill, because they were so, you know. At that point, no one had that fabric. We did that and then we did the blue coat, and then I took a lot of fleck for the hat, because people didn't like the hat.

[0:31:03.2] KM: I loved it.

[0:31:03.9] CF: I love the hat. I thought it was great.

[0:31:05.3] KM: I remember it’s – the only thing I remember she wore.

[0:31:07.3] CF: The hat ended up having its own great story, because of the girl who did the hat in New York. I sent her the swatch of the fabric and I asked her to do the hat and she showed me the styles and I said, “This. Take this down a little bit and make this a little bit like this,” and we got through it all.

Years later, I was at market and I mean, years later like 15 years after that and I was at market and I heard someone saying, “Connie. Connie.” I’m like, “Okay.” I turned around and it was this woman that I noticed earlier that had this incredible big brimmed hat on, it was summer, and a little black-and-white polkadot skirt and the little white shirt and I thought, “Wow, that woman looks really good.” I turned around she says, “It's me. It's Darci. I made the hat.” I was like, “Oh, my God.” She said, “The hat changed my life.” She said, “This guy who was a big hat maker called me after that,” and she said, “I ended up marrying him. I live on Martha's Vineyard.”

[0:31:58.7] KM: What a good story.

[0:31:59.8] CF: You had fairy dust all over you girl.

[0:32:02.7] KM: That’s good. That is good.

[0:32:04.9] CF: Yeah, lots of stuff, good stuff came out of the blue hat.

[0:32:07.5] KM: Was it nerve-racking to know that you're going to be on the world stage like that and be looked at so hard? Or did you ever think about it? Did you have those nights you're like, “Oh, my God. What am I doing?”

[0:32:16.1] CF: Yeah. Well yes, because the night that Air Force One they were going to take off the next day, I told my sewers, I said, “You know, we have to finish everything. This is it. However we have to stay here.” Remember, 1992 there's no cellphones, and so we're all sewing and people or husbands are calling saying, “Yeah, we're still here, we're still here. We're safe. Yeah, we're okay. It’s late, but we're safe.”

Finally the phone rang in the store and I answered it and it was my husband. He said, “The president just called me. He's concerned about you.” I said, “We're just about to make the delivery,” and it was 2:30 in the morning. I drove everything over to the governor's mansion and I always call him President Clinton. I don't call him Bill. President Clinton came out and he said, “Wow.” He said, “I had secret service out going all over the grounds. I thought maybe, I don't know, you got lost or something out here in the dark.” I said, “No, sir. I’m fine.” I said, “I just need unload these clothes.”

[0:33:13.4] KM: Down to the wire.

[0:33:13.6] CF: Get out of here.

[0:33:14.9] KM: Down to the wire.

[0:33:15.6] CF: Yeah, it was great. It's like that thing I – of course, my son is a big cyclist, the birth baby in between the girls and we watched the Tour de France all the time. I look at it like, if I never really – at one time I thought I wanted to go to the tour, but I miss everything if I go to the tour. I'm just standing in one spot for three seconds when the riders go by. Going to the inaugural, it was later when I watched the reruns of the whole thing. I could see the scope of everything, because I just saw a Gertrude Stein quote that I loved, it says, “We're always the same age inside.”

I'm always the same person. Just in that you and I were talking about being in the moment. I don't know if I was in the moment, so much as I was in my kids say la-la-land, and that's why my grandchildren call me la-la. You're just there and it is wonderful and magnificent and that you're like the second row, or the first row and you're watching the president being sworn in. Then later you hear Peter Jennings or somebody saying your name when you watch the tape and I go, “Really?” That's fun. That’s good.

[0:34:21.9] KM: It’s so good. I’m so glad I know you. All right, let's take a break and then we'll come right back. We're going to continue our conversation with creative risk-taking Connie Fails; clothing designer, manager at the Clinton Museum store and producer of Curbside Couture. We'll hear the story of how she opened and now manages the Clinton store since its inception and learn how you can attend, or enroll in her Curbside Couture fashion show competition for students, grades 3rd through 12th grade using recycled products.

First, I want to remind everyone we're broadcasting live every Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Central time on both KABF 88.3, the voice of the people and flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page, and that after one week of every show’s airing, a podcast is made available on all popular listening sites and YouTube. We'll talk more after the break.

[BREAK]

[0:35:10.0] KM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast a year and a half ago with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.

Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.

Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories of prominent leaders in our state.

I am Adrienne McNally, Manager of the Arkansas Flag and Banner Showroom and Gift Shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety; open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 to 5:30 and Saturday 10 to 4.

[0:36:36.5] KM: All right. We’re going back in.

[INTERVIEW CONTINUED]

[0:36:40.6] KM: You’re listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I’m speaking today with Miss Connie Fails, manager of the Clinton Museum store and director of Curbside Couture, a fashion design competition for students grades 3rd through 12th, which all culminates in a gala fashion show in the spring at the Clinton Museum store. She gives out scholarships.

If you’ve got a question, make a comment on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page, or write this number down and call –

[0:37:06.1] CC: 501-433-0088.

[0:37:10.0] KM: Give it again, Chris.

[0:37:11.0] CC: 501-433-0098.

[0:37:16.2] KM: If you’re shy, you can just, like I said, watch us on Facebook, or you can creep on my weekly blog about life as a small business owner at flagandbanner.com, or as I said earlier, you can listen to our podcast.

Before the break, we talked about how Connie did the fashion for the blue outfit with the blue hat. I did not know that. I did not know that how fun it is for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the outfit that Hillary wore in the inauguration. I guess, you were right there when you saw Maya Angelou give her poem.

[0:37:44.0] CF: Yes.

[0:37:44.7] KM: That was good.

[0:37:45.1] CF: It was awesome.

[0:37:45.7] KM: She's from Arkansas.

[0:37:46.7] CF: Stamps.

[0:37:47.2] KM: Stamps.

[0:37:47.9] CF: Grandmother. Raised by her grandmother.

[0:37:49.6] KM: I know. Ain’t that wonderful? It's time. You've had Connie Fails clothing store and designer store for how many years and you've decided to move to the museum store.

[0:38:01.3] CF: Almost 30 years.

[0:38:02.9] KM: Hillary comes to you and says, “We're about to open the Clinton Library. Do you want to run the store?”

[0:38:08.3] CF: Actually, it was like this; I was watching the library close to being ready. Of course, I'm all about retail so I was thinking there will be a museum store in there. I called the president's office and I said, “Just give him a message.” I said, “The library is coming along. If he wants some help with his museum store, I'd be happy to help him.” They said, “Okay.” They call me back and they said – he said, “Sell your store and do his.” I said, “Would you just tell him I'll call him back.”

Okay Connie, that's a little bit of brevity on that. You just should listen and think about this a little bit. I thought, “Gosh,” at that point I was 55 and I thought what a great opportunity to have a whole new career. I've known the Clinton’s so long, I thought museum stores have an obligation through the IRS, thank you very much, on the choice of your product in your store. About 95% of it has to represent your exhibits, in our case our person, our temporary exhibits, our permanent exhibits, the history of everything.

There was a lot for me to learn, but I thought – I also bring to this table humor and the things that they like. I thought, “I can do this. I think I want to do this.” There will be some hiccups along the way, but it's been a big learning curve and I'm just so passionate about how I represent the president and the former first lady Secretary of State Clinton. I love doing book signings. I love doing personal things that I can do that they need with. Most recently, President Clinton, it's just a few weeks ago and I'm working on this one. He loves to give President Bush socks. He gave him the first pair from my store, it was one with a black Labrador on it, okay. Then he gave him a pair with his image on them. Then he had someone call me and say, “Ask her if she can make bipartisan socks.” That's what I’m working on right now.

[0:40:05.5] KM: There going to be a donkey on one – on left foot, you know.

[0:40:08.6] CF: I'm going to keep it a secret for now.

[0:40:12.6] KM: You make custom socks. You design a sock and send it to a sock maker and you get a custom sock made?

[0:40:17.0] CF: Yup. That's how it works. Not knitting anymore.

[0:40:20.8] KM: You're not knitting.

[0:40:21.1] CF: I'm not anything anymore. Yeah, you do. You just work on your idea, you toss it out, you say, “This is what I think I want to do.” Luckily, I do have the background in fashion, so if I'm designing t-shirts, or hats or other things, I'm ahead of the curve on that.

[0:40:38.3] KM: At first, they wouldn't let you put the store, the Clinton Museum store in the library. It had to be down the street in the River Market area and that was a disappointment, I think to everybody.

[0:40:47.3] CF: Well, including when they told me. I just have to get over it and go on. There was a legal reason, and the legal reason involved a rebate from the city if you improve the downtown district. We all know that if the library being put in Little Rock, Arkansas where it is brought our whole downtown to life again, which is just incredible. I thought, “You know, I'll do anything for President Clinton.” If this store needs to be down here until they resolve this legal issue to see if they're going to get the rebate, and it was several million dollars. It took seven years and two trips to the Supreme Court, but the foundation finally – the city had to pay the foundation. We used that money to restore the bridge, which had been closed for over 50 years.

[0:41:29.6] KM: The walking bridge?

[0:41:30.3] CF: Yes. The bridge on our property, the old Rock Island Railroad, we used that money so that we would have this incredible running, biking, walking pedestrian bridge.

[0:41:41.4] KM: It's wonderful.

[0:41:42.6] CF: Yeah.

[0:41:43.4] KM: I don't understand why we don't hear the good news about the things the Clintons do and we just hear so much crazy stuff all the time about not just the Clintons, all the politicians. I mean, I don't know how any politician can stand to be in office, because they work all the time for the good of the people, but it's the mistakes they make that get talked about on TV all the time.

[0:42:04.5] CF: I just heard this week and I'm the person in charge of defining quotes that I can put President Clinton's quotes on coffee mugs, or pins, or whatever, t-shirts, or whatever, in hopes that people will absorb some of them. One quote that I guess President Clinton says all the time and I hadn't really heard him say is you've got to get caught trying. You've got to get caught trying.

The other one though that I – is the only quote I've ever heard and that applies to why you don't hear – I'm talking about hearing things that people do get caught doing good, okay. The one quote when my now eight-year-old was five-months-old, President Clinton was holding her and she was holding onto his little finger and he looked at her and he said, “90% of life is hanging on.”

[0:42:45.6] KM: Oh, that’s a good one.

[0:42:46.4] CF: I thought, “Wow, doesn't President Clinton know that.”

[0:42:50.1] KM: 90% of life is hanging on.

[0:42:52.1] CF: It’s a favorite quote of mine.

[0:42:53.2] KM: It's a great tweet. Also, you're 55 and you've gone from being a – every entrepreneur out here will know this. You've gone from being an entrepreneur who you never know if you're going to get a paycheck, to being a federal employee, is that not right?

[0:43:06.5] CF: Not a federal employee, foundation employee.

[0:43:09.1] KM: Oh, I thought you worked for the federal government when you took that job.

[0:43:12.2] CF: No, it’s foundation.

[0:43:14.4] KM: With that, you get –

[0:43:15.5] CF: Now I became someone who actually gets a paycheck every time everybody else does, someone who gets health insurance and all that stuff. I put my heart and soul into a small business for 30 years and making sure my employees had as much as I could do in every single way that I did. I'm a big person in the community. I'm always out giving to some auction, or doing something like that. The decision was great. I was just ready to take a break and in a way, be cared for on the things I had to worry about a lot and devote the rest of myself to loving the job that I do for the Clinton Museum store.

[0:43:50.3] KM: It was very stressful when you opened it up.

[0:43:52.3] CF: Oh, my gosh. Well, it was. I mean, there were a bunch of cats chasing jello in that building. I thought when it was happening, sometimes I'd sit down about 10:30 at night and I'd still be there and I think, “This is to me from the outside looking in, this is the way the Clinton’s life has always been.” Just a lot of stuff, a lot of moving parts going on, lots of ups and downs. I thought, “I could control all this. I'll get this.”

[0:44:22.6] KM: Are you good at delegating?

[0:44:24.5] CF: Of course not.

[0:44:25.6] KM: That's what I think about sometimes on stuff like that. I'm saying, when you're an artist, you want to do everything yourself.

[0:44:31.9] CF: Yeah. I've learned. I've become better. When they started getting interns I thought, “Oh, my gosh. Please don't do this to me. I have to have an intern.” I've gotten better at it.

[0:44:44.4] KM: You’ve been service-oriented ever since I've known you. You've been paying it forward all the time. Does that come from somewhere in your family?

[0:44:50.9] CF: You know my parents, they were – my parents were born in the 20s and my dad was in World War II and the Korean War. They went through the depression, but they made a nice middle-class life for my brother and I. What they taught me was to – they didn't – I don't think they thought this directly, but if you see something and you can do something about something, then you do it. If you can contribute your time, or your money, or your craft, or whatever it is, you have an obligation, if you see that you can fix something or help something that you do that. I think that's where that came from.

[0:45:30.9] KM: You've always been good at that. I'm going to tell everybody that you're listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and then I'm speaking today with Miss Connie Fails, manager of the Clinton Museum store and director of Curbside Couture, an annual fashion design competition for students of all ages using recycled materials. Let's talk about the Curbside Couture. How did it come about?

[0:45:50.9] CF: A few years ago, let's see, it's been seven years ago now.

[0:45:54.7] KM: Wow, that's a long time. I didn't realize it.

[0:45:56.1] CF: Yeah. The exhibit that was upcoming was an Oscar de la Renta exhibit. Oscar de la Renta did all of Hillary's clothes for the second inaugural. He was just –

[0:46:05.1] KM: She's moving on up.

[0:46:06.0] CF: Yeah. She did get on Fifth Avenue and it was great and I didn't know –

[0:46:10.1] KM: Do you like him?

[0:46:11.8] CF: I didn't know him personally.

[0:46:12.8] KM: No, did you like the clothes.

[0:46:13.9] CF: Oh, yes. I thought they were stunning.

[0:46:16.9] KM: Okay. He has her seal of approval.

[0:46:19.8] CF: Yeah. I will say that the press I think was so – what’s the word? I want to say mean, but I don't want to say that. The press was not –

[0:46:28.7] KM: Critical.

[0:46:29.5] CF: Yeah, they were critical of her and of her things that people shouldn't be judged on.

[0:46:35.4] KM: They do that to women. What's up with that?

[0:46:37.2] CF: Yeah, so they were doing that business. She was so much smarter than me. If you're going to criticize my legs, I'll just put pantsuits on and I'll stop that. I thought that was great. I actually did a black coat for her that had an applique on the back and that press office called me one day during the time that she had to go to the white water stuff and they said – Neil said, “Connie, did you put a dragon on the back of her coat?” I said, “Of course not. Why would I do – she's my friend. What do you mean?” He said, “Well the press says that thing on the back of her coat.” I saw her a few months later and I looked at her I said, “You're wearing my black coat.” She said, “Do you like it?” She said, “I just took that off.” Took dragon. I said, “It wasn't a dragon.”

[0:47:19.8] KM: What was it?

[0:47:20.8] CF: It was just an applique that came from the 1930s garment district. She liked vintage old things like that. Anyway, so Oscar de la Renta, oh, I just would I just want to go see more of his clothes again. That exhibit was so spectacular and the craftsmanship. I don't care if you don't care about clothes, or whatever, you would so appreciate, those clothes were amazing.

[0:47:43.3] KM: I saw them.

[0:47:44.2] CF: The foundation asked me if I'd like to speak at something since I'd had a career in fashion for so long and I said, “No, I don't.”

[0:47:50.5] KM: What?

[0:47:51.1] CF: I said, “I've had this idea and I would love to play with it.” What is that? I said, “I want to mentor kids to recycle anything into fashion, or design.” They said, “Okay.” I thought this will be a one-hit wonder. I'll just run as fast as I can, scramble around and get these kids to do some stuff.

[0:48:09.0] KM: Well, you're back to your roots, recycling.

[0:48:11.1] CF: Yeah. Because I only had a four-month window before I needed to have a little show. That year, I managed to get about 30 or 40 students to participate and Babi came over and did a little emcee thing for me and stuff, and then it was over. This was December when we had it the very first time. After it was over, the foundation said, “That was so successful. It was so great for the education and everything like that.” They said, “We want to do it again.” I said, “Oh, okay.” I was real perky. They said, “In April.” I said no. I said, “April is just four months away. I just did this.” They said, “But April is Earth Day.” I said, “Okay, I'll stand up for that one.” It was quite a chore to do that again in that close period of time.

[0:48:54.3] KM: You did two in eight months.

[0:48:55.5] CF: Yeah. Yeah, I did. Then after that, we got on a better schedule and it's grown every year. Last year we had 250 entries. The registration will open in August while we're in August now, but the Education Department puts it up and it’s usually right as school starts. It had to become a juried show, because I'm the emcee for the show, and in order to get 85 students on the runway within an hour, which I cannot do, because think about it, there's only 60 minutes in an hour, I only have one minute to talk about all the work these kids have done for months and months and months.

I usually just cheat a little bit and I run over an hour. It does mean that the kids that did the most work, or did the most whatever there's – we have a little scale that we judge things on. Did you really use recycle? Did your grandma help you? Because I tell them, “I don't want to see anybody else's voice in this, but you.” I have four people that help me with that; Amy Bell from south on main,

[inaudible 0:50:01.5], Erin Lorenzen and new is Brian Phelan who does the most amazing leather purses.

[0:50:10.1] KM: Everybody that apply, you had 200 apply that year. Does everybody that applies gets to participate and then you pick down to 85 that you're actually going to show on the runway show?

[0:50:20.8] CF: They don't, because there's no other option for participation. We've tossed around and talked, we need a bigger place, that's why we'd like people to sponsor it more, we'd to have a big corporate sponsor for it. The great hall at the library is where we have the show. Last year I figured out a new way to configure and instead of getting about 350 people in there, I was able to get 420 people to view the show. It does become a sold-out show every year, but all the money goes back in to bring Curbside back again for more students. I've had one student get an internship in customing at Saturday Night Live.

[0:50:55.3] KM: No way.

[0:50:56.8] CF: Isn't that awesome?

[0:50:57.0] KM: Yeah.

[0:50:58.4] CF: She was one who in the very beginning told her teacher I don't want to do this. Her teacher looked at her and she said, because it was going to be an after-school art project said I don't want to do this. She said, “Okay, it's an assignment.” I was like, “I wish I was that smart.”

[0:51:10.9] KM: How do people apply? They go to the Clinton Museum store and click on –

[0:51:14.5] CF: No, you go to Clinton Presidential Center, CPC. Clinton Presidential Center and go to the education bar. Unless they've reconfigured it, you have to scroll down quite a bit and you go to events and then Curbside Couture will come up.

[0:51:28.4] KM: You can probably Google Curbside Couture.

[0:51:30.9] CF: If you Google Curbside Couture, I will be the very first thing that comes up in Google, I'm happy to say all about Curbside. Yeah, you can lead yourself there by doing that.

[0:51:41.6] KM: Then there's an application where you fill it out there, I guess.

[0:51:44.7] CF: You just register and say you want to participate. I'll tell you what happens is that sometimes students like, “I want to be a fashion designer.” Let me just mention, it's 3rd through 12th grade. You'd be amazed at what 3rd and 4th graders can do. Once they get into it and they registered for it, sometimes they’d go, “Oh, my gosh. This was so much more work than I was willing to put into anything.” Or something happens. They move, or they get so involved in another subject at school and they go, “I can't do this.”

[0:52:17.2] KM: Do you decline anybody?

[0:52:18.6] CF: Yes, we do. Because we have to jury it down and there's nothing –

[0:52:21.5] KM: At the beginning do you decline them, or do you accept them all at the beginning?

[0:52:23.3] CF: No, no, no. Accept all registrations.

[0:52:26.5] KM: Then you begin, call the group towards the end.

[0:52:30.7] CF: Yeah. Let me say that we also have a mentoring thing. The show is usually in April, and then we have a mentoring thing in March four weeks before the show, so they can ask questions. Then the delivery is two weeks before the show. Then that's when the jurying comes in and we pick the 85, or 80, or 90, or whatever it is that year that will be on the runway. I'd like to find an alternative for those who don't get picked, because there's still so much work that they put into that. I like what Coto said. She said, “No one goes away from this event crying,” because even if they didn't get in, they learn so much and it'll drive them on.

[0:53:04.7] KM: You talked about the mathematics that go into it.

[0:53:07.1] CF: Mathematics, science. They dye things, they have to gather things, they look up history, they study stuff.

[0:53:15.5] KM: On the video. Yeah, right. On the video that you sent me, one girl made her dress out of maps.

[0:53:21.7] CF: I loved it. She didn't say this, I don't think on the video, but on the maps which were this wonderful swirling dress, you could see little square things, those were pictures of her with her family at the places they had visited in Arkansas on the map.

[0:53:36.7] KM: Clever.

[0:53:37.5] CF: Yeah, so she went to Murphysboro, she put the picture of the crater of diamonds and her family digging around and stuff on there. That's great.

[0:53:44.4] KM: Did she laminate them all? Look like they might have been laminated.

[0:53:46.0] CF: She did. Yeah, she did.

[0:53:46.8] KM: She laminated them all, glued them together?

[0:53:50.0] CF: I'm not sure how she put that one together. Often these kids, 95% of these things are not sewn. They are held together with glue, or staples, or duct tape, or but they look couture. I mean, there's that fireman thing was Japan, get ready. It was amazing.

[0:54:08.2] KM: Yeah. She was good. You all go to flagandbanner .com and click on radio, you can Google Connie like she said, Curbside Couture and find out stuff, but you can also if you want to see the video, go to flagandbanner.com/radioshow and click on Connie's bio to see the video that we're talking about. These kids are so extraordinary. Things that you inspiring these kids, I'm telling you it's really great.

Connie, I have a gift for you. I don't know what you give to somebody who does everything. You don't give them clothes, you don't give them anything about Arkansas or the United States and I happen to own a flag store, because they already have all that stuff. I know you either just got back from the beach, or going to the beach?

[0:54:44.9] CF: We just got back.

[0:54:45.9] KM: Well, that's too bad

[inaudible 0:54:46.9]. It's a beach towel that says flagandbanner.com on it.

[0:54:54.4] CF: You know what, we love beach towels at our house.

[0:54:55.9] KM: I do too.

[0:54:56.7] CF: We use them in the shower and bath, rather than a towel tap. This is awesome.

[0:54:59.7] KM: Let me show a part of it.

[0:55:00.7] CF: Let’s see.

[0:55:00.9] KM: There you go Facebook.

[0:55:03.4] CF: Thank you, Kerry.

[0:55:04.2] KM: You’re welcome. Thank you so much. You have just been –

[0:55:07.0] CF: It's been a joy. Thank you.

[0:55:08.5] KM: You're great.

[0:55:09.0] CF: Thank you.

[0:55:10.4] KM: Chris, who’s my guest next week?

[0:55:12.9] CC: Well, that's going to be Chelsea Wakefield. She's the director of UAMS’s new Couples Center, whose mission is to help couples navigate unique challenges of relationships in the 21st century by providing counseling, group, therapy and community education about love, desire, relationships and sex.

[0:55:30.6] KM: Your favorite subjects.

[0:55:32.2] CC: Absolutely.

[0:55:34.5] KM: She's got a workshop coming up. Since I'm out of town next week, Chris you're going to be here all by yourself.

[0:55:38.7] CC: I will be. That’s okay.

[0:55:39.8] KM: You'll be fine. We're going to play her show from about, I don't think it's been a full year since she was on, but we're going to play her show where she talks about dream work, relationships. Then we're going to give the dates out at that time for her workshop that's coming up. I'm going to give it to you right now, it's called the Couples Center. It's at the Couple Center at uams.edu. It's September the 18th, 15th, October the 2nd and the 9th. Go to couples Center at UAMS. It’s 6:00 to 8:00 at night, four or five times, and I don't remember how much she said it, but it wasn't expensive. She's good. She'll be talking about couples next week on the rerun, so that'll be good. Chris, I've enjoyed working with you.

[0:56:21.2] CC: It’s been fun.

[0:56:22.4] KM: You're a great co-host in me.

[0:56:24.4] CF: Thank you, Chris.

[0:56:24.6] CC: You are a great host. Well, thank you Connie. I love the interview.

[0:56:28.0] KM: It was great, wasn’t it? She’s a great gal. If you have a great entrepreneurial story that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to questions@upyourbusiness.org, or you can send me a message through flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.

Finally to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me and Connie. If you think this – and Chris. If you think this program has been about you, you're right, but it's also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you've heard or learn something that's been inspiring, or enlightening and that it whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[0:57:19.0] CC: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. All interviews are recorded and posted online with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show. Subscribe to her weekly podcast wherever you like to listen. Kerry’s goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.

[END]

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