OFW Producer Brook Hudson Stepping Down After 14 Years — Omaha Fashion Week
Omaha Fashion Week

OFW Producer Brook Hudson Stepping Down After 14 Years — Omaha Fashion Week

After nearly 14 years at the helm of Omaha Fashion Week, I am stepping down. When we celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2017, I knew it was time to start thinking about my departure. I did not want to still be hanging around as producer at the 20th anniversary!

Fashion is always searching for what’s new and what’s next. I believe that challenges us to bring in new leadership. Being open to change is what keeps this organization fresh, innovative and poised for longevity. My hope for this community is that it will thrive for as long as people are still wearing clothes.

I am very excited to hand the reigns of this great organization over to a dear friend and long-time designer, Buf Reynolds. Buf is probably the one person in Omaha who has been around OFW longer than me. She has been on our runway since the very beginning in 2008. In fact, she was producing her own shows with other local designers long before OFW was on the scene. We often refer to her as the fairy godmother of Omaha fashion because she has a heart for mentoring young designers and building a positive, loving community around them. She spent many years on the OFW team as our talent and community outreach director before taking a few years off during the pandemic. During that time, she served on our designer selection panel. We are thrilled to welcome her back to our team now, as Producer!

What’s next for me? I’m looking forward to a slower pace of life and spending more quality time with my family. I also want to put more effort into helping designers directly. The need designers most frequently cite is a need for cash – usually just a few hundred dollars – which can make a big difference in the outcome of their collections and the trajectory of their lives. To fulfill this need, my friend Alyssa Dilts and I have teamed up to form the OFW Investors Circle. This is a grant program for designers that is funded by our community and awarded by our community. Anyone can become a member of the Investors Circle by contributing to the fund, which will be divided into $500 grants for qualifying designers each season of OFW. Anyone who donates will be invited to listen to designer pitches on zoom and cast their vote for who they think should receive a grant. Just prior to OFW, all investors will be invited to a preview party where they will be the first to see the fruit of their investment in our designers. We launched this privately a week ago and have already raised over $2,000 toward our goal of $5,000 for this season. If you would like to participate in the OFW Investor’s Circle, you can learn more here.

This transition reminds me so much of what it was like to make the leap into producing OFW full time. We were in the middle of the Great Recession when I decided to leave my role as marketing director at Creighton’s business school to take on OFW. My parents and friends thought I was crazy. I am a fairly risk averse person, so there was even a part of me that thought I was nuts to leave a stable career to jump head-first into entrepreneurship. But my heart told me to take the leap, and so I did. I felt I had something to offer this budding community that would give it structure and stability. I saw a tremendous amount of potential in the designers and it was clear that the public wanted fashion show experiences.

It took me about seven years to actually get comfortable with this role. I had no fashion experience. In fact, I had actively avoided fashion as a career path my whole life. Who was I to think I could run this show with literally zero industry experience? Looking back, I can see that life had been preparing me since the age of 16 for what I’d be doing at OFW. My experiences at Miss America, the hundreds of events I planned and executed in various marketing roles leading up to my work at Creighton, were all experiences that taught me how to plan events, how to communicate clearly, and how to motivate large groups of people to work as a team. And those were all things our fashion community needed at that time.

Over these 14 years I have learned so much more than I can share in one blog post – everything from tapping a fire hydrant to get a water line into a tent, to becoming a pro at driving a scissor lift. I now have a deep appreciation for all manner of power tools and I can code like a boss. Still can’t sew a straight line though. You do it all when you are a small business owner, and I was no exception.

I’m most proud that we have created an experience in OFW that allows people to feel loved and seen. That is the ethos of OFW – we are all about love. If you are a model who doesn’t fit in at school, we are your people. If you are a creative who wants to experiment with clothing as an art form, we will build your runway. If you are a child who wants to learn how to sew, we have a fashion camp for you. If you are a parent trying to figure out how best to support your child, we have a seat along the runway for you. All are welcome at Omaha Fashion Week, and I love it. I love it so much that I’ve staked my career on it.

What I value most from this experience is the friendships I have gained. I have gotten to work alongside true friends for 14 years! I stand in awe of so many amazing people that I would have never met otherwise. I have watched many young people start their portfolios at OFW, go on to top fashion schools, and land great jobs in the industry. Some have even started moving home to Omaha in recent years and are now giving their time and talent back to our fashion community in various ways. This truly is a full-circle era for our community.

If I had one piece of parting advice to give, it would be exactly what it was when I was Miss Nebraska 20 years ago…follow your heart. It will always lead you to where you were meant to be. And with that, I leave you in the hands an incredible team led by Buf Reynolds, our new OFW Producer. Together, they will guide OFW into a bright future. And I can’t wait to be in the audience, giving them all the standing ovations.

All my love and gratitude,

Brook Hudson
Former OFW Producer

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