The Bluffton News - 101 N. Main St. - P.O.Box 49 - Bluffton, OH 45817
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Kendra Olson On Saturday, October 27, Bluffton native Annie Weihrauch hit the runway at the Highball Halloween costume and fashion design contest in Columbus, Ohio. An entire street was shut down in the heart of the city for the much-anticipated event. At least 20,000 people attended, including photographers, big business CEOs, and the mayor. The event had two competitions, one for the general public and one for fashion designers. Only eight designers were invited to compete this year, Annie Weihrauch was one of them.
Annie graduated from Bluffton High School in ’98 and went on to graduate from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a major in advertising and graphic design. She stayed there with her husband and got a job as a product designer at Bath and Body Works. She has also designed accessories for Justice, American Eagle, and a few other big names in the clothing industry. About five years ago—on top of working full time—Annie started her own business. She began by creating cards and similar products with graphics on them, later she branched out into jewelry design and making graphic T-shirts. From there came her desire to start her own line of clothing. Her company, Rock and Royalty, is based online. She had already designed a couple of outfits by the time she was selected to compete at the Highball Halloween. Every fashion designer that participated in Highball had to design a costume for the event and show four different looks from their lines of clothing. Most of the designers had done Highball before and were well established. Annie had never competed in Highball and was still building her portfolio. She described the experience: “It was a lot of work. It was the first time for me doing this, and most of the people have been doing this for years. It [was] just the beginning for me—something I’ll never forget for sure.”
Leading up to Highball, Annie decided to create four new looks instead of using what she already had in her line. She tackled the challenge enthusiastically and had all four looks and the costume ready in time. When the big day arrived Annie and her five models went early to prepare. There were close to a hundred people preparing in the big room designated for the fashion designers. For the next few hours Annie was busy doing last minute adjustments to the costume, fitting models, doing hair and makeup, and taking advantage of photo ops before the show. She said, “It was just a bunch of craziness a couple of hours before the show.” Many little things came up that threatened their performance from glitches in the costume to shoes that didn’t fit right. But when the time came for Annie and her group to walk up the stairs to the runway, they were ready. Annie said, “It was freezing outside. The show lasted for about forty-five minutes.” In the end, Annie’s works didn’t win. However, she considers the night a success. She has already gotten invitations to other shows because of her involvement with Highball and requests for custom-made work. This is exciting for her because she is looking into branching out into custom design for fashion, wedding, stage, and concert performance. On top of that Annie has been receiving requests from boutiques to sell her clothing to them.
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