SPOTLIGHT: Designers Are Poppin’ Up in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District

March 9, 2018



Within the depths of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, is a series of pop-up events in full swing, giving the average Minneapolis Fashionista a VIP pass into the creative lives of various local designers with Studio Progressive. Founder, Sarah Butala, guarantees visitors an inside look into professional brands such as, Strey Designs and Karen Morris Millinery.


Strey Designs, a popular handbag company in the Twin Cities, aims to provide durable handbags that are not manufactured overseas. Strey Designs strives to showcase timeless, simple, and classic looks for every outfit. According to designer and company founder, Sarah Butala, she’s “been getting a little funkier lately cuz YOLO!” The successful purse maker’s optimism and spontaneity translates into her business motto, “‘Embrace possibilities,’ I believe ANYTHING is possible!”
The once aspiring art teacher, is collectively working against the wasteful manufacturing processes of accessories and apparel. As Strey Designs grows, she hopes to incorporate this belief into her future global prospects. Her desire to go global, stems from teaching puppetry in Uruguay. Although Butala greatly enjoys helping others, the designer realized that she needed to focus on herself before she could focus on the needs of others.
“Strey Designs is a roundabout way of me helping my community and making a small impact on the sad and wasteful manufacturing process.”

Butala also aims for functionality to be another main focus of the brand as well. She continuously asks herself, “What will this bag hold?” to keep the initial purpose of the handbag alive. “I wanted to make art that people could use every day and carry with them. I want my customers to know they are carrying my art!”
The founder of Studio Progressive urges fashion community members to visit her studio to connect with her and her pieces. “I want to share that with my community!” Butala expressed how she”[has] overcome so much and worked so hard to follow [her] passion.” She wants to share the creative juices with fellow designers and fashionistas.

Fellow designer brand, Karen Morris Millinery, decides to focus its creative energy not on handbags, but on hats. The brand is currently undergoing its 2018 makeover, bringing headwear to “the next level.” Morris believes in the varying dimensions of a woman. “A hat can be the perfect extension of [a woman’s] personal style and flair.”

Morris strives to incorporate global fashion trends into her work, inspired by her upbringing in Hong Kong. She aims to provide women with quality, simplistic, and elegant headwear that “has something for every woman looking to add a classic accessory to [her] wardrobe.” In retrospect, every woman deserves to artistically express herself through hats that “can be worn in an everyday environment, and yet still [have] a modern twist.”

The milliner’s accessories are sold at the Northrup King Building in Studio 211, alongside the incredible works of other local Twin Cities designers. “I am just incredibly passionate about the art of millinery and love expressing my point of view through my designs. I like to think of them as wearable art.”

Both Morris and Butala will showcase their incredible wares throughout Northeast Minneapolis. Morris will demonstrate “the art of millinery” and the hat manufacturing process. Butala will present “a crazy performance art piece….” Currently, she chooses to keep her presentation under secrecy to keep her potential visitors guessing.

Experience the many fashion influencers poppin’ up all over Northeast Minneapolis alongside assessor masteries, Karen Morris Millinery and Strey Designs. Learn from the various fashion influencers as they allow each customer a VIP look into the workspaces of differing clothing, bridal, handbag, hat, and jewelry innovators at Studio Progressive. Each designer believes that “[women] deserve to look and feel like a work of art.” Be a piece of art.
By Parker Hunstiger