About Parlour Co-directors

The Productivity Parlour for Artful Living is a participant in Spaceworks Tacoma.

Spaceworks Tacoma is a joint initiative of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber designed to activate storefronts and vacant space. The initiative makes no- and low-cost temporary space, training, and technical assistance available to artists, creative entrepreneurs, organizations, and community groups who are transforming Tacoma into an economically stronger and more culturally vibrant city.

 
Naarah McDonald

has extensive experience in a variety of fields from theater and non-profits to higher education and retail. She has over 30 years in clothing/costume design and construction and 20 years in retail, business, and higher education professional environments.

She started a family early, but went on to college and earned her undergraduate degree in the arts. At Tacoma Community College, Naarah worked on her journalism degree where she managed the college paper winning 12 awards the first year and 15 the second year. After transferring to Pacific Lutheran University, she shifted her focus to Chinese Studies, with a minor in Sociology. Naarah travelled to China twice during her education and produced a body of work that includes poetry, prose, a short film and a documentary. She earned her BA in 2011.

After earning her degree, she went to work for the University of Washington Tacoma. Starting in Public Relations, she moved to the Milgard School of Business working her way up from an office assistant to an administrative coordinator during her six years there, which included website development and management, curriculum management, internship facilitation and publications. She finished her ten years at the university with a four year tenure in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program. Taking on many projects during her time there, she earned her LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt Certification and worked on improving the curriculum scheduling process that was modeled and adopted by the campus.

She left the university to work as the COO for Espionage Cosmetics for one year before launching her own business, Revisioned – an urban boutique. During her time with Espionage Cosmetics, Naarah worked on two crowdfunding projects and established internal operational and manufacturing processes. Revisioned – an urban boutique tied in her breadth of experience in multiple fields. The boutique showcases local craftsmanship and works to educate the community on the value of shopping locally and the quality of locally crafted goods and art.

Her crowdfunding experience also helped her to launch a crowdfunding consultation business with Gwen Kohl and Michael Laine.

In addition, Naarah’s experience includes work with non-profits. She served on the board for South Sound Playwrights Festival for two years after working with the Festival for two years. Currently, she serves as Vice President for First Night Tacoma – Theater District Associates. Additionally, Naarah has worked with a number of non-profit community theaters as outlined below.

Naarah started sewing at 8 by making doll clothes. By 11 years old, she helped her mother with costume construction in California for theater and dance repertory groups. She continued her work with theater when she relocated to the Pacific Northwest over 20 years ago. She provided a variety of services in the local community theater, including production manager, stage manager, director, and costumer. Naarah worked with Tacoma Little Theatre, Lakewood Playhouse, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, and Tacoma Actors Repertory Theater, and costumed everything from comedies to tragedies. Some of her play credits include Macbeth, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Communicating Doors. For a two year period, Naarah provided local wardrobe support to the concert circuit that included bands like Aerosmith, Rolling Stones, The Celtic Sisters, Kenny Rogers, Weird Al, and Ozzy Osbourne. She also works in independent film and includes unit production management, make up assistant, and line producer for “Journey Quest,” season 1, production management for season 2 by ZOE, and production management for “Infested” by Sabotage & Dialogue Productions.

Linking all of her previous experience with textiles and business, she has partnered with Erin Severe to launch her latest business, The Productivity Parlour for Artful Living, a textile maker space.

 
Erin Severe

Erin Severe has over 20 years of experience sewing and crafting a variety of items, 8 years military experience, an Associate’s degree of the Arts concentrating on Anthropology, and 4 years in the commercial costuming industry. Teaching about costuming and consulting on costuming projects are integral aspects of what she has done and continues doing. Her military experience has changed how she approaches risk assessments and discipline, as well as accountability and planning. The military prepared her for working with and leading groups of people, as well as having the integrity and confidence to work alone and accomplish goals.
   

Costuming and cosplay push the boundaries of fashion and allows her to explore creative techniques and materials that wouldn’t normally be used in the traditional textile and fashion industry. Building costumes based on fictional characters often forces her to think outside the box in terms of creating structures and silhouettes, while historical costumes often force her  to learn how to create an item at every level of the process to complete a finished project. 
 

Erin also uses fiber skills such as spinning, felting, crochet, knitting, weaving, and naalbinding to create clothing accents and sculptures. Starting when she was six years old, she explores this variety of fiber arts so that she could create a multitude of end projects. 
 

As a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) for over 10 years, she researched and created historical costumes from different time periods and genres. Additionally, she attended fantasy and comic-themed conventions for almost 10 years and has connections with artists and costumers in nearly all aspects of the costuming and special-effects world because of it. This world is a huge interconnected community and allows her to network and find instructors, which helped her when she ran Arts and Sciences learning events for the SCA in the past.

 

Erin worked in the mainstream costuming industry for four years as a retail clerk and manager of Lakewood Costumes in Lakewood, Washington. Alterations on costume rentals and commission work was involved, but the majority of time was working with customers one-on-one with pre-made items. The focus of customer service consisted of consulting or using her network to help customers accomplish their costume goals if the shop couldn’t provide the necessary items.
 

Prepared to take over the business for the owner who wanted to retire at the time, she started Lakewood Costumes, Inc. in January 2015, with the future goal to expand the existing business and to offer higher-end costuming and cosplay options for those in the convention and historical costuming community. Managing the brick-and-mortar location with the current owner from 2015-2017, she realized that while ready-made costumes will always be needed, her goals weren’t in line with the business model in place. There wasn’t space or time to help customers make costumes or to carry more inclusive items.
 

She discovered a lack of depth in the costuming industry for those who don’t meet the big distributor’s views of “standard” in regards to size, gender fluidity, and those wanting to customize their costuming experience, especially around quality products.  Wanting to switch the focus to education and creative enterprises, she departed the more traditional costume business world to begin this new project. Finding a partner with more parallel goals in Naarah, they launched the Productivity Parlour for Artful Living with those lessons in mind.

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