Up to the Task of Creating Houston Design Hub

Over the years, many have attempted to unite the Houston fashion, interiors and art industries under one umbrella. It's been said that a lack of a centralized entity is one of the hindrances to the growth of the design industry in Houston. But, an organization with that type of universal buy in and community support has yet to emerge, until now. The Houston Design Task Force (Task Force), in partnership with the Greater Houston Partnership, is officially launching during Fashion Houston with plans to be that big tent for Houston's growing design sector.

"We are in the right place at the right time," says David Peck USA designer and Houston Design Task Force chair David Peck when asked why this group has gained traction when others in the past did not. "Houston is thriving in this tough economy, which allows for growth in our industry. We have presented a plan that concentrates all industry interests and, at the same time, is attainable." Esther Freedman, Cuteheads designer and Editor in Chief of the soon to be launched website adds, "We set out to clarify our mission and our goals first and that was something those involved could grab on to. Then, we started getting it done."

The Houston Designed Task Force was originally the brainchild of fashion heavyweight Neal Hamil, former executive VP for Ford Models, past director of Elite Model Management and founder of the Houston based Neal Hamil Modeling Agency. In early 2012, Hamil wrote an oped piece outlining his ideas for transforming Houston into a fashion center. Then later that same year, the then-named Houston Fashion Task Force was born. With the Greater Houston Partnership serving as an administrative and political resource, Hamil believed the Task Force would be in the perfect position to champion the fashion industry inside and outside Houston. David Peck was invited by Hamil to take over leadership in late 2012 and the name was changed to Houston Design Task Force to reflect the all inclusive nature of the organization. Fast forward to 2013 and you have an organization with a roster of nearly 100 fashion, art and interiors movers and shakers guided by one of Houston's leading designers.

The first phase of the Task Force's plan is the launch of the organization's online hub the Houston Designed website, which will serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about the Houston design industry and the people that make it tick. "What sets us apart from other websites is our focus on the business side of fashion. Though we appreciate the fun side, this site is all business," says Freedman.

The website's biggest draw will be the Houston Designed Database. The database will house contact information for any and all types of creative professionals living and working in Houston. "We have so many great companies based here, but many of us don't even know the resources available," says Peck, "and we are all about inclusion, so we want everyone to be a part of it."

In addition to the database, the website will include a citywide event calendar and a blog, which will consist of educational information, profiles and personal stories from those working in Houston. "We want to show the day to day lives of professionals here. Get the behind the scenes look," says Freedman, "The hope is that the website represents the thriving Houston industry that we all know exists."

Though the immediate goal will be building out the upcoming website and raising the profile of the the Task Force in the community, as for future plans, both Peck and Freedman see a lot of potential. Peck says, "As the visibility of the website grows, more opportunities for large scale partnerships and offline projects could be in the future."

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