Indie Interview: Chillin’ Productions’ Irene Hernandez-Feiks


We’re back from Memorial Day weekend maxin’ and relaxin’ with a serious dose of Chillin’. Chillin’ Productions are one of SF Indie Fashion’s favorite San Francisco indie fashion happenings. In fact, without Chillin’ Productions, we are quite certain that SF Indie Fashion would not exist – the idea for this site was born several years ago after attending a Chillin’ event and realizing how many fabulous apparel and accessories designers create in the Bay Area.

The event, which celebrates its 9th anniversary this coming Saturday at mezzanine, is the brainchild of San Francisco’s Irene Hernandez-Feiks. She was kind enough to answer some of our most pressing questions just in time for the show.

Designers, check out her great advice for how to maximize your potential at upcoming indie fashion happenings, samples sales, etc.

And indie fashion consumers out there, get thee to the event this weekend. Seriously. It rocks.

Vital stats:

Name: Irene Hernandez-Feiks

Company: Chillin’ Productions

Neighborhood: Castro

Time with Chillin’: 9 years

Why did you start Chillin’ Productions nine years ago?

I am a fashion designer and wanted to create a platform for myself and other designers and artists. I knew too many talented people that did not know how to create exposure for themselves. It’s hard if you do not have connections in the industry. Chillin’ has always been free for the designers and we do not take commissions from art sales. It was truly created for the art and fashion community. To make money for them, exposure and connections.

What was your involvement in the art and fashion worlds before you started Chillin’? What led up to the creation of the Chillin’ events?

Not much, just an incredible passion for art and fashion. Both of my parents are artists and as I mentioned before I was a designer.

How has the event changed over the last eight years?

It started with 5 designers every week on Tuesday at 111 Minna (which I love and I am so grateful for believing in me). Today I try to do them every 4 months and I feature 60 fashion designers, 80 artists, 60 filmmakers and 6 DJs. And if I had more space, I would have more designers and artists.

Do you have a day job?

Kind of. I am trying to open the new venue, and planning Chillin takes over 2 months of work. Sometimes I get hired to produce shows for different companies. I do not make my money from Chillin’. Chillin ‘ is my baby, my passion (I have met so many amazing people through the years. I know Chillin’ would not exist without so many talented people and I am so grateful.)

Tell us about Chillin’ Productions. How big is the company? Are you a one-woman show?

Just me! I am obsessive compulsive. I have to do everything or I go crazy. I need to have control or I get worried things are not getting done. Houston my husband helps me out a lot.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and produce multimedia shows and events in the Bay Area?

Being honest is the most important thing! You have to be passionate about it. Do not think it is going to be a great success immediately, it takes time. I cannot tell you how many times I had crappy shows at the beginning. Develop a thick skin, not everyone will love you!!! Do not get discouraged. Research your resources. Get involved with the fashion and art community. Try to go to all the art and fashion events in your community. Always look for new talent. Be open-minded (other people might love what you do not like). Always try to learn, never think you do things perfectly, there is always room for improvement. Promote like a crazy person. I post stuff everywhere and I flyer the whole Bay Area like a crazy person still after nine years. Try to help other businesses. I love creating opportunity for smaller businesses that do stuff for the community such as Stitch lounge, RAG, Bawift, etc. Try to get press, it’s hard at the beginning but eventually you will get some. Do things in a way that makes you feel good when you go to bed. Never take advantage of people. Be nice but be smart, do not let people take advantage of you. Even if you are offering a free show to the designers, always have a contract and let them know what you expect from them. Be professional and always separate friendship from business (a lot of these designers have become my friends, but when it comes to Chillin’ I treat everyone the same). Never forget the people that helped you. Welcome competition. I could go on and on…. Anyone with a questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

What’s the most challenging part of putting a Chillin’ event together?

Keeping track of all the artists. The show features over 200 artists. It’s hard when you have to make sure you get all their contracts, get all their bios for the website on time. Making sure they give me the dimensions of artwork on time. Making sure filmmakers get me their shorts on time so we can put all of them into one DVD. Making sure the 200 artists get their flyers and help promote. Making sure everyone knows set up rules and show up in time. Hanging 80 artists that morning and taking art down that night. Making sure no work gets damaged and keeping everyone happy, which unfortunately never happens. Setting up 60 designers. Communicating with over 200 artists is not easy, but I love it and love them!!!

Is there anything that’s going to be different about the June event?

Well, it’s a special celebration because it is our anniversary show. Lots of new designers and artists (you will be blown away, I am so proud). There will be a sound system for the films, so that is exiting. We always try to see what did not go so good with the prior show so we can improve. I know it can get too packed in there so we will try to have more open space. We will try to make sure no one has to stand in line. I am featuring a new DJ (all my DJ’ shave been with me since the beginning ), but overall, it’s the same thing.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming Bay Area designers who want to make the most out of showing their designs at an event like Chillin’?

Keep doing shows. Even if you do not sell a lot, you can always learn what you may need to do differently at the next show. You never know who you will meet and what exposure you may get. It’s not all about selling. You will do great in some shows and not so great in others, so do not get discouraged. Learn your market so you know which shows work for you better. A lot of these situations can be stressful so do not take things personally. Always have something available with your contact info. Try to have a website or something where people can see your work. I am always looking for new designers and it is good to have a reference where I can go back and look at your work. Have something that makes you different, so that is why people buy from you. Start getting an email list so you can tell your customers what shows you are doing and they can come and buy your stuff. Try always to come up with new fresh ideas so people get excited to see what is next. Having a little sale section always attracts people. Be nice, no one wants to buy from someone with an attitude.

Last spring, you announced plans to open a permanent Chillin’ venue? Is this still in the works?

YES!!!!!! I am so stressed out!!!! I have 2 words for you: Fu….ing PERMITS!!!!!! I just hope soon!!!!

What else is on the horizon for you and Chillin’ Productions in 2007?

Hopefully the space! I want to take it to a different level. We are looking at a space that will have a permanent boutique that will feature 200 designers (this time I will have local and global designers), an art gallery, a 50 people sit down movie theater, a restaurant and a bar. Also this will be my space, so architecturally will look the way I want to (very modern, very NY). Also the space will have things for the community such as art classes for children, etc. I just hope it happens soon, it’s taking way to long!!!

  • Yo! Ladies in particular Ms. Irene Hernandez-Feiks!

    Hello…I love your stuff…I want to see more of it. Hey, there is this fellow that gave me your name…his name is Marcus Helton he has lots of good idea and really great energy. He is trying to put together an event that brings all sorts of different genres together. I am in a band we are called THE REACTION and he would like to DJ and there are a couple of other groups Tawk and High Fly that would like to put together an event…and well obviously you are a fashion designer so perhaps there could be some dancers or models wearing some of your designs while there is some great DJ ing going on…I don’t know but, I do know that putting together a show with “different” types of art, music, or creative energy would be wonderful…anyway if you want to work on this sort of project please contact Mr. Marcus Helton (415) 424-8079 or you can write to me…Liz at

    Hope to meet you in person and let’s create an event that will blow everyone’s minds….YEAH