Learn what the Melo Project Runway for Youth is all about!
The Melo Project Runway For Youth
is the first of its kind.
Rhode Island Creative Magazine’s Founder, Kimberly Sherman Leon visited with Tina Melo and her students at the new facility of the Melo Project Runway for the Youth, a non-profit organization in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
“Seeing first hand what the children are learning and how involved they are in the process was quite impressive, especially for their age. This is an amazing project to have available here in RI and Iook forward to seeing it grow!” -Kimberly Sherman Leon
Founded by Tina Melo, a former Knitwear Designer, Director/ Merchandiser, Fashion and Life-style Forecaster, Teacher, and Mother.
Ms. Melo received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from The Rhode Island School of Design with high-honors, and is a recent graduate from of the Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) in May 2014. Melo’s unique style of teaching and mentoring has developed after years of having trained many assistant designers and freelancers, including years of caring for a sibling born with disabilities. As a youth volunteer for the Special Olympics, Tina worked as a teacher’s assistant in The Munich International School, a private English-speaking elementary school in Germany. She had left Rhode Island in 1986 and when she returned in 2011, she found that the Educational System in the US had changed drastically in the last 20 years. And not all for the better.
As a concerned parent, Melo saw a tremendous need in many communities to improve future outcomes for children at all levels of learning. “The Melo Project Runway for Youth” grew drastically in less than three years, and in May 2014, a new studio dedicated to teaching fashion design was opened at 85 Industrial Circle, Suite 2213.
The project sprang from a demand by parents seeking education on basic life skills and creative outlets for their young children, and eventually, from the middle and high school students as well. The Melo Project began in 2011 by offering hands-on classes to students seeking real world experiences and training in the fashion design industry.
In the current environment, acceptance into fashion design schools like Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons, or the Fashion Institute is highly competitive and tuition is prohibitively expensive. Since the launch of Project Runway in 2006, Rhode Island children and teens have become increasingly interested in becoming future fashion designers. The students that have been taught by Tina Melo have a true passion for fashion, a passion that has grown significantly due to the increasing amount of attention paid to fashion trends in general.
The Melo Project Runway for Youth (MPRY) trains and empowers future leaders and entrepreneurs not only for the Fashion and Design industries, but for any art-related career path the student may choose. MPRY is a school with a gallery and shop where the public can view, collect, and buy, tax-free, “one-of a-kind” artworks and fashions made by local artists and designers.
“The parents of students attending MPRY have been amazed at their children’s transformation after just their first class.” - Tina Melo
During Phase 1, students begin to develop self-confidence by learning to sew in a series of exercises developed by Tina Melo.
In Phase 2, students focus on technical skills and learn to make the type of technical sketches required for approval by the fashion industry. In this process, the students also learn how to work with fashion forecasting services and trend reports.
In Phase 3, students increase their math and vocabulary skills while learning to explore the differences between knits and woven fabrics. At this point, they begin creating their own designs.
At the end of each year there is a fashion show and art sale to promote and educate the public and government officials on the importance of supporting and encouraging the Arts for all communities.
By tapping into the skills of experienced local professionals, MPRY has managed to form an alliance with those who believe in giving back to their community. A list of these professionals includes Martha Jackson Designer/CEO of Restored by Design Jewelry; Ken Wilson, professional quilter; Debbie Voccio from The Providence Performing Art Center; Shanti Joyful Yogini, Ambassador of Authentic Ayurveda Yoga and Dance; Soufiane Ken, freelance Artist and Graphic Designer; and Camille Cambno, a local painter.
The Melo Project Runway for Youth 2015 continues to seek funding, grants, sponsorships and seed money. A video created and donated by Michael Amato, a professional film producer and writer, to help present it to sponsors and raise funds, as will the sales of logo T-shirts printed and donated by local artist and mother of one of the students, Theresa Iafrate.
Tina Melo’s efforts have been honored with a citation as an advocate for children from the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation through PLTI.
Melo’s educational offerings are not limited to young people. Anyone interested in persuing a second or third career in fashion, or just making clothing for themselves can sign up for one of her private classes for adults.
The Project Runway Event is planned for September 2015 at the Providence Performing Art Center. There will be a Fashion Show along with musical and theatrical events featuring local artists and performers. The event’s mission is to enroll a total of 10 young fashion and design candidates from each school throughout Rhode Island. These students will then represent their school districts and be showcased on stage in a Fashion Show.
Parents seeking to encourage or support their child’s talent in the Arts can contact Tina Melo at 508-685-0641 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no deadline for sign ups. These classes meet once a week for 2/hrs. Students will be accepted now and until July 1, 2015.
If an 18 year old can create a man’s tailored suit and a child of 5 years old can make her own knit dress in less than 12 weeks, than anything is possible, even if it has never been done before.
The Melo Project Runway For the Youth have several youtube trailers videos and on-line, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IloxMhRJaPc
Donations can be made to the Melo Project can be found at
by Rob Mariani
Photography by RICM Staff