Swiss sewing machine manufacturer Bernina and the SoHo-based DIY social media website Kollabora.com partnered this past weekend to present a series of three Fashion Camp workshops for Altitude Summit registrants on Jan. 26 at the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. 

Altitude Summit, affectionately called “Alt Summit” by its attendees, is a national blogger conference for those who blog about design, lifestyle, photography, fashion, events, food, art direction and interior design. Offering workshops, presentations and endless networking opportunities, the SLC-based conference has grown in popularity since its inception in 2010. Last year, Alt Summit expanded into New York City, now producing both East and West Coast conferences.
 
This is Bernina’s second year teaming up with the people behind Kollabora and SLC Alt Summit to present Fashion Camp Workshops geared specifically toward DIYers. “Bernina is an authentic and credible brand and is always looking to partner with people that share those same values,” says Amy Gutierrez, the director of Marketing for Bernina. “With Kollabora and Alt Design Summit, it’s a perfect fit.“
 
This year’s partnership began last fall, when the three brands launched an online contest to create the most “pin-worthy” home design or fashion-forward accessory. The contest allowed winners Rachel Faucett, Marigold Haske and Ashley Rose the opportunity to not only attend the sold-out SLC Alt Summit, but to teach conference attendees how to create their winning project as a Fashion Camp instructor. “This has been a great opportunity for me to attend Alt Summit and teach this DIY class,” says Ashley Rose of sugarandcloth.com. “Without this contest, I would not have been able to be here. It’s been so great and I have learned so much.”
 
Rose’s winning project that landed her a slot in Fashion Camp was a bright-pink Sculpey geometric necklace. However, due to the oven-baking limitations of working with clay in a hotel conference room environment, Rose decided to modify her necklace project by replacing Sculpey with a hand-painted wood triangle, calling it a “geometric wooden necklace.”
 
Two other projects taught in Fashion Camp were Marigold Haske’s Yo-Yo Necklace and Rachel Faucett’s Interoffice Envelope Backpack. Instructions and materials for all three projects can be found on Kollabora.com.
 
“We’re a site with DIY inspirational projects, tutorials and supplies,” says Carol Cho, Business Development for Kollabora. “Who else is better to teach the class than their peers?”
 
Rose agrees. “The [Fashion Camp] workshops allow us to make good connections in an intimate setting,” says Rose. “We learn from each other instead of learning the hard way.”
 
Although Rose’s time slot in Fashion Camp was literally one of the last programmed activities of SLC Alt Summit, and many conference attendees have already began their travel home, over a dozen passionate bloggers still participated. They gathered around one giant table, laughing, sharing supplies, swapping conference stories and learning about each other.
 
“The connection is so powerful and I think that is what people are looking for these days,” Cho says. “Not just a product that’s pretty, but the story behind it, and the connection to the artist’s story and where the product comes from.”
 
Although Rose’s jewelry project did not include the use of the dozens of Bernina Sewing machines available, participants were still allowed to demo them. Authorized Bernina representatives from Nuttall’s (Salt Lake City’s top Bernina dealer) were on hand to help DIYers sew an easy project: a travel shoe bag. 
 
“Bernina has special distribution networks,” says Gutierrez. “You can’t find them at a Target or a JoAnne’s fabrics. You have to go to an authorized Bernina store, but when you do, you will meet staff that knows the ins and outs of the product. “
 
Eric Lopez of Nuttall’s guided DIYers through the process of sewing their own travel shoe bags, explaining the special features of the B350 machine and how Bernina’s commitment to technological innovation has improved the experience and ease of sewing on their machines.
 
“All the machine innovations that make sewing more convenient can advance your skills,” says Gutierrez. “This is what sets Bernina apart from the competition: our education support from our Bernina stores and Bernina corporate.”
 
The Fashion Camp Workshops presented by Bernina, Kollabora and SLC Alt Summit create a positive impact on the blogging, fashion and DIY communities. Participants and instructors alike walked away with new lessons learned and valuable relationships that will elevate “create culture” nationwide.
 
“The biggest things I’ve learned at Alt Summit is to not sell yourself short. I didn’t start this blog thinking it would go as far as it’s gone,” says Rose. “Here it is a year later, and I’ve been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Huffington Post and now this event with Kollabora and Bernina. It changes quickly and evolves with that—don’t stay in that small mindset: Dream big!