EDITOR: Nathifa King
On a typical Saturday afternoon in New York, the atmosphere is usually filled with the anticipation of planning for the variety of entertainment that this great city offers. During this particular day, on October 22nd, something was brewing in Brooklyn. Executive directors Dewry DuRoi Bradford and Kirk “Dmarco” Inniss entered the ballroom of the Tillary Hotel where the bustling of the set-up team were busy erecting walls, hanging banners & artwork, and creating the vision of what was to come. The food vendors also began to arrive with cartons of water, champagne and gourmet items. The excitement was building, for this day was the official launch of CraftPalooza. Over 500 Creatives and spectators converged on the borough of Brooklyn to experience the essence of its unique street culture. It was a true reunion of creative minds in one location for the purpose of sharing their artistic expression through fashion, art and entertainment. Prior to that day, a lot of buzz surrounded the event. Brooklynites began calling CraftPalooza the New York version of Art Basel.
As guests stepped off the elevator, they were met by art and technology vendors. A step n repeat displaying all of the sponsors who made the event successful, paired with branded walls and welcoming red carpet, invited guests into the ambiance of elegance that gave them the celebrity feel. The right side of the ballroom was a full display of various expressions of art in the form of paintings, clothing and figurines. To the left was a spread of food vendors showcasing and serving artfully prepared hors d’oeuvres, freshly squeezed juices and treats, all for free. VIP guests enjoyed champagne and wine while rocking to the scratch-master DJ – Diamond The Artist and DJ Red Bottom who played Hip Hop, Gospel and R&B tunes from the 90’s to present day. Bold 8-ft walls brandishing the name “CraftPalooza” lined the entire venue with strong statements of love for New York City. There was no mistake that upon entry, you stepped into a CraftPalooza branded event. At 6:30 pm, host – Phya Storm kicked off the entertainment portion of the event by inviting guests to the stage where she introduced Rack-Lo of the Lo-Lifes who started the fashion segment of the event. The fashion show was broken down into 4-segments representing the 4-seasons of a person’s life, namely: streetwear, collegiate-wear, corporate and successful entrepreneur. This was to show the Youth that there is more life to be lived after their 20’s. CraftPalooza’s philosophy is: “Don’t lose your life in the first season.” Before the presentation of season 1 of Life, Rack-Lo kicked it off with the classic Lo-Life tradition called “Lo-Goose on the Deuce”. It’s an ensemble of models prancing around the runway sporting Polo Goose down jackets and coats in a wide range of colors.
CraftPalooza producers strategically structured the event where talented performers graced the stage after each fashion segment. DJ Matatak (DJ-ing for the fashion show and performances) took over as New York natives like JaredSB, Jesse JaceJay, Kez, Amber Lee, Norel, Roc-Rilla, Silva Reign and Senor Gigio performed original music. Also showcased was Virginia native One and Gospel Rapper: Drake Weatherall who flew in from South Carolina. There was an explosive dance rendition by 11-year old Fadee Mohamed and an expressive dance routine by Mimik. Rounding the performances off was a powerful presentation of spoken word by movie actor and NY Fashion Week model Sergio Delavicci.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
In 2018, Dewry DuRoi launched a health & sports festival called HealthJox Festival and in 2020, he established the HealthJox Foundation, Inc. nonprofit to provide healthy services to underserved Youth within the borough of Brooklyn. He knew that there was a greater pull towards Creatives after discovering that most black and brown Youth learn better through the arts. This desire to reach the Youth and where their interest lies, began his journey to form CraftPalooza. Collaborating with his long time friend and rapper Kirk “Dmarco” Inniss, they devised a strategy to bring Creatives together for a day of art, performances, spoken word, food & drinks. They knew this event had to have all the elements of nostalgic Brooklyn in order to pull it off. What’s more Brooklyn other than Youth wearing Polo Ralph Lauren from head to toe? Dmarco then called on his childhood friend Prance-Lo from NYC fashion icons – the Lo-Life’s to lock-in Rack-Lo to curate the fashion portion of CraftPalooza. Dewry Du Roi then locked in a deal with Jeff Beler – founder of UnderHill Walls to curate the street art exhibit. Dmarco also included Exodus Productions to produce the live performances throughout the evening.
According to Dewry DuRoi, within the 5-boroughs, there was a huge void that needed to be filled within the Creative Industries. Being a fashion designer by trade, he spent a lot of his time surrounded by creative minds. He would attend multiple functions weekly throughout the city, none of which had a true sense of communal art vibes on a large, consistent scale. With so many talented individuals in New York, it seemed like there wasn’t an authentic platform where Creatives could get together and just “be”. Out of this desire, came the building blocks for the CraftPalooza concept.
CraftPalooza is a FREE Art Exhibit & Fashion Show with a live performance component. With a sold-out event, attendees enjoyed a full day of Brooklyn, New York’s cultural experience with a silent auction of over 30 of the top NYC graffiti artists by art purveyor and nonprofit – “Jeff Beler and UnderHill Walls” to raise money for the HealthJox Foundation’s Curriculum: “Pursuing Purpose Program”. Formally incarcerated shelter residents of the Tillary Hotel were provided with free sneakers and socks through the nonprofit “It’s From The Sole.” This is another aspect of HealthJox Foundation and CraftPalooza’s community service efforts.
Polo – Ralph Lauren Corporate’s photography crew also documented the entire event. CraftPalooza founder – Dewry DuRoi Bradford even showcased his collection called CorDuRoi. On the art side, award-winning artist Marco Santini – who painted his art piece during the event, sold his work for $1,000 to the highest bidder. Also featured were some of the top NYC Street Artists: UnCutArt, Voodo Fe’, @SubwayDoodle, @Calicho, @madvaillan, @jnovik_studios, @iamfrankiebotz, @call_her_al, @meganewatters, @lovemkn, @canivorousflora, @art_tillman, @bljtheartist, @madidangerously, @framton_o_fun, @nassarting, @jaima.art, @protectyoheart, @voodofe, @miki_mu, @angelamariealarez, @sagegallon, @ponziart, @dustinprestige.
CraftPalooza’s Executive Producers: Dewry DuRoi Bradford and Kirk “Dmarco” Inniss received an official Citation from Mayor Eric Adams and a Proclamation from Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso for their nonprofit services to the Community declaring October 22, 2022 CraftPalooza Day.
Healthjox Foundation and CraftPalooza announced the award recipients who was honored with the “For The Love Of NYC” award:
Nfr KaRaa SeshrAnkh: PURSUING PURPOSE PROGRAM/HEALTHJOX FOUNDATION;
Jeff Beler: UNDERHILL WALLS
Andre McDonald: IT’S FROM THE SOLE
Carol Maraj: CAROL MARAJ FOUNDATION
Hector Guadalupe: A SECOND U FOUNDATION
FREE GIVE-AWAYS & RAFFLES:
Free Phones & $10 Tablets were distributed by Top Marketing;
Special thank you to Claudia Lyons for her tireless work and vision as the CraftPalooza Event Coordinator.
Special thank you to Nick Plakas for his love of Community and hard work of building the walls and runway.
Special thank you to Assemblywoman Latrice Monique Walker, Esq.
Special thank you to Douglas McNeill Reed
Also honoring: UnderHill Walls, Lo-Life, Polo-Ralph Lauren, Exodus Transitional Community – Chris Kraze, Exodus Productions – Michael “Champ” Smith Baker, Its From The Soul – Andre McDonnell, Keep This Link – Claudia Lyons, Shmackwich – Sibnavus, Empryss, HealthJox, HealthJox Foundation, Inc., Carol Maraj Foundation, Ben-A-Fit, PPP Artwork, CynCity, Kim-PR, KevKonnect, Clothed With Love, Nick Plakas – NP Painting & Decorating, Inc., Brooklyn Health Equity Foundation, Kayla Swindell – photography & video, Billionaire Drummer – photography & video, Mystery – photography & video, Gregory Thomas, The Fashion Week Experience – James Corbett, NYC historian – Ferris Wheel Jay – host of the super popular page @whatisnewyork
On speaking with CraftPalooza’s executive producer – Kirk “Dmarco’ Inniss, he just dropped his album entitled: “FINE I’LL DO IT MYSELF” on all platforms. According to Dmarco, “Fine I’ll do it myself” is an album dedicated to everyone that feels they have no support system. So do it ya self!”
ABOUT PARENT COMPANY:
HealthJox Foundation (501(c)(3) nonprofit) was established by Dewry DuRoi Bradford to help troubled Youth within the inner city of New York to discover their purpose in life. They created an ALTERNATIVE TO PRISON PROGRAM with the Judges of New York City called “Pursuing Purpose Program”. This was setup to help Youth redirect their thinking realizing that they are A BRAND and need to begin to find and cultivate their purpose in life. We believe that CraftPalooza will be a great way for them to experience the creative arts in a big way. We are really representing BROOKLYN to give everyone a sense of Brooklyn, New York-pride.