PARKTEN Interview - Maeghan Archibald
Who you are, what you do, and what are three things you can’t live without?
My name is Maeghan Archibald, I am the Fashion Director for PARK. I can’t live without junk food (I live to snack), crime shows (tv and podcasts), and blankets (I’m always cold)
How did you become part of the PARK team?
I started with the PARK team in 2009 as a model in the first couple of PARK fashion shows. Kara and I use to dance together when we were kids, and she reached out to me to get involved with PARK when I began posting modelling photos on Facebook. After I got a taste for the organization and the backstage craziness I knew I had to get even more involved! In 2010, I joined the team as a fashion intern volunteer.
What is the most exciting part about being on the PARK team?
PARK is always changing and evolving! When I look back on some of our first shows it is crazy to think what we accomplished with so little, and how each year it has changed over and over and gotten better and better. The bones of PARK have stayed consistent over the years but each show is a completely different project with a new venue, new theme, new designers, and new challenges. Although that means it’s always stressful it keeps things exciting and interesting and keeps pushing us forward.
How has your role and PARK itself evolved over the years?
I started with PARK as a model way back in the day, but modelling was never my passion. It was just more of just a fun hobby. So when I got involved with PARK and saw how many other roles were available in fashion my world was rocked! It just so happened to work out that right when I graduated high school, PARK was looking for fashion interns. I joined and volunteered as an intern for a couple years and eventually became our Director of Fashion.
The whole time I was in university I always joked to Kara and Jessie to hire me after I graduated. Over those 4.5 years I was in school, PARK was growing at a rapid pace and becoming a project that needed more than just part time volunteers working on it. When I graduated, PARK was hiring for an Admin Assistant and I immediately jumped on the opportunity! I worked as the Admin Assistant part time as well as remaining a volunteer Director of Fashion, and over the past couple of years I have officially become a full time employee for PARK. People joke that I’m the PARK baby but I really am! I’ve grown up with this organization and as I was growing and evolving so was PARK.
PARK is such a multi-faceted organization that it can be hard to explain exactly what they do beyond fashion show production - can you explain a little more of the behind the scenes and daily operations of PARK?
Although PARK is now 10 years old we still run like a start up which is amazing for someone like me. I’m just starting my career, so I love being able to work on and touch almost every aspect of this organization. It’s hard to explain the daily operations because there is no typical day at PARK. There are always a million different projects and things going on. Yes, I have my specific titles and responsibilities but really we all work on everything together and get to be involved in projects, meetings, and decisions for every area of the organization. In any given day I’ll work on fashion / event planning, sponsorship, sales, team managing, marketing, graphic designer, accounting, budgeting etc. When you only have a small team of people you have to wear all of the hats and figure out how to do anything and everything.
What does PARK aim to do with their ten year campaign?
The purpose of this campaign is to highlight and share the stories of people who have been with the organization for a long time. This gives the people who work behind the scenes, that you may see at every event or not at all (I’m always trapped backstage), recognition and a platform to share their PARK stories and why they love it. This organization has been run by volunteers and amazing partners who have donated their time and skills for 10 years. We would not be where we are today without the help of every single one of these people and their passion to grow community in this city.
Why is PARK such an important organization, not only for Calgary and Alberta, but for all of Canada’s fashion industry?
Before PARK existed there was very little reason for creative people to stay in Calgary. Everyone was leaving to go to bigger centres (Toronto, Vancouver, New York, LA) and that was just the way that it was. Since PARK began, we’ve seen so many designers, artists, and business owners see the opportunities here and decide to stay in Calgary. Obviously, this helps Calgary grow and flourish into a city we are all proud to live in, but I think it also helps grow and diversify arts and culture for all of Canada. If everyone goes to and looks to the same places for fashion culture there’s no evolution, no diversity in product, no chances for the people that have different ideas and perspectives.
How do you want to see PARK grow in the next five years? in the next ten years?
I want to see all of the crazy ideas we have come to life! There is no lack of creativity when it comes to this team. I want to see all the things we’ve been like “wouldn’t it be crazy if we did …” actually happen. I also want to see it become a nationally recognized, reputable organization, where everyone knows what it is and what we are about. Even in the 8 years I’ve been with PARK, I’ve gone from having to explain what it is every single time someone asks to people being like “oh yeah I’ve heard of PARK” or “oh yeah, I went to ___ show it was awesome”. I really hope to see this happening more and more as the years go on and expand to outside of Alberta.
What is your most memorable experience at a PARK event? Do you still get nervous for events and shows?
Some good ones would have to be the high you feel while being backstage during an amazing fashion / designer moment. There are moments when the venue, the clothing, the styling, the music, and the choreography comes together so magically. Although I can’t see what’s happening on the runway during the show, getting to see the social media reactions, videos, photos afterwards and knowing that you made that happen is an indescribable feeling. Also getting to meet and work with the amazing Canadian designers we’ve been lucky enough to have in our shows is always memorable. It’s incredible to work with so many different designers and see their collections up close and personal, and go through their creative process of putting a show together and learning.
Getting to work with such a kick ass team of people is the most memorable things about working a PARK event. The team is an amazing combination of people who are like-minded and share the same goals, not to mention the most fun.
I’ve said it before but some of my most memorable moments include sitting on the floor backstage eating pizza with my team after a successful (or terrible) show and going over all the great and bad things that happened and being able to laugh about it, and learn and grow. My worst experience was definitely the show we had in the parkade. Being underground in a dirty, concrete box for 2 days without any fresh air or sunlight was physically the roughest venue I’ve had to deal with.
How do you find balance working for an organization that is always go, go, go?
This is something I’ve really had to train myself to do. My whole working life so far has been in a non-traditional setting where things are always happening and people are always working. I choose my own hours so for the first couple of years I was always on the clock and constantly answering emails at all hours of the day and working all night long, but it was really starting to impact my life and my sleep and my desire to work. I have to make the conscious effort to set myself hours every day and fully turn off work mode when those hours are done. I’ve found a variety of small things helps me do this like turning off email notifications on my phone, turning my phone on do not disturb after a certain time, and making sure that I give myself a proper “weekend” or weekly break to re charge.
Who are some of your favourite designers and artists?
There are too many. I love and appreciate them all for different reasons. Some because I know them personally, some because I love to wear their pieces, and some because I just love their creativity and aesthetic.
What are your favourite PARKSHOP pieces?
SP Badu fanny packs for sure! Can’t live or work without one. It is full of all my supplies and all of my snacks and that is all I need. Also anything from CoutuKitsch, I don’t think I’ve purchased accessories from anyone else in the last 5 years.
If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would be simple. Black jeans and a grey t shirt (with some type of fun sweater or jacket because I’m always cold)!