By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 14, 2010 at 3:04 PM
When Bree Rose Bower moved to Milwaukee from Lodi, she had an idea of what she wanted to do, but the path that would lead her there was still unknown.

"I moved to Milwaukee to pursue indie fashion, but I wasn't sure how to do that," says Bower. "I knew there was a scene, and I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to find out what I had to offer."

On March 1, Bower, along with business partner and designer Kelly Strosser, opened Project M, 801 E. Center St., a Riverwest cooperative boutique that leases space to Midwest designers.

"Milwaukee designers are a priority, but because we are also trying to enhance the Milwaukee scene with interesting indie fashion from beyond the city, we've opened it up to Midwest designers, too," says Bower.

Project M will host a Gallery Night event on Friday, April 16 from 7 to 10 p.m., that includes late-night shopping, refreshments and the art work of Yvonne Lopez, Dominic Rodriguez and Dane Haman.

"This is a great chance to shop, drink, enjoy art and see what we're all about," says Bower.

Currently, the clothing co-op features garments, accessories and jewelry made by 22 designers that are contracted for one to three months. The designers are encouraged to bring in new items every month to keep their lines fresh. Project M is always interested in new designers, although currently they are interested primarily in clothing.

"We have a surplus of jewelry right now," says Bower.

Bower and Strosser are both designers, too. Bower describes her line, called Rosefly, as "men's and women's clothing made from recycled materials that's all over the place." Strosser's line, called Des Arbres, is eclectic, too, with an emphasis on "women's ready-to-wear knits."

Bower and Strosser met at the Indie Fashion Market, hosted by Fashion Ninja's Areka Ikler. Bower, who describes herself as a "UWM art school drop-out," took numerous classes at Ikler's Fashion Ninja School of Art & Design.

"Other than the classes I took at Fashion Ninja, like clothing construction and draping, I am pretty much self-taught," says Bower. "My mother was a seamstress, so I learned a lot from her, too. I am still learning. Always learning."

They later conceptualized the boutique at an Alterra cafe. From the start, they knew they wanted their shop located in Riverwest.

"We honed in on Riverwest and found our building right away. We knew this was a neighborhood where people are going to be inviting and supportive and they definitely have been," says Bower.

"A lot of people in Riverwest support local and they have shown support of what we have to offer. After being open for two weeks, we knew this was our home."

Project M will co-sponsor Milwaukee's Fashion Revolution, on May 1, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The event will showcase 10 local designers' lines of futuristic fashion.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.