Kimberly Phipps-Nichol, owner of Blue Water Studio and Blue Water Style, can call herself a fashion designer, green leader, educator and world traveler. She recently traveled to Brazil on an exchange program with Rotary International, and she is also establishing a sustainability program through the University of Nevada, Reno’s extended studies department. And her clothing designs will be showcased at the RAW Natural Born Artists Ensemble show on Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Cargo at CommRow. For tickets, visit www.RAWartists.org/Reno/Ensemble.
How was Brazil?
Yes. Oh, my goodness. Brazil was amazing. I went with the Rotary Group Study program and some of us extended it and stayed an extra week to go to Rio de Janeiro.
So what did you do while you were there?
The whole idea for the group study thing is to create peace and international understanding through cultural exchange. And so there was a mixture of visiting and helping out with some projects, like nutrition programs, vocation centers for people with disabilities, training programs, rehabilitation centers for people with drug and alcohol problems, but they really focus a lot on youth and education and nutrition. They have a program with organic gardens. There are so many neat things happening. They are super, super involved at a community level. It’s inspiring because here, you know, a lot of the Rotary clubs, because we’re in a blessed nation, they have a couple projects but it’s more about money, the foundation sending dollars. But in a lot of developing countries, in a lot of up and coming places, it’s the Rotarians that are doing a lot of hands-on work, creating these schools and that kind of thing.
How long were you there for?
Four weeks in the state of San Paolo, and checking out the Rotary club, their projects, and visiting some vocational places too. I actually got to visit the LEED gold building in this little town. It’s this beautiful cultural center, and it’s in this wonderful, pastoral, farming and ranching community. And then of course we visited a lot of water treatment plants. They’re not as much about water preservation as they are about treatment but we’re all going to shift in that mindset. … And we visited hospitals. One of the girls on our tour works for a hospital. And another girl on our tour works in hospitality, so we got to do some fun stuff too, like go Jeeping and get really dirty. It was a really nice mix.
What have you been up to since you got back?
This weekend I just came back from Las Vegas where I did training, and I’m now the regional chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools. So we’re trying to get a U.S. GBCC student chapter here at UNR and TMCC and at Sierra Nevada College. Believe it or not, we’ve already got one at Western Nevada College in Carson City, so Carson is actually ahead of the game. And so I’m excited about that.
So tell me about your involvement in the art show.
So the RAW show—this is a national group, and they have 65 locations in the U.S. So when they have a group or a tribe, they try to have a monthly show, so this one is called Ensemble, and the idea is that they bring together a variety of local artists, and I’m really glad because I’m the only fashion designer there that’s going to be featured. One of the jewelry designers [Janet Storie], she actually brought me into the show. I’m going to have my models wear her jewelry. I made a dress out of a broken umbrella and the top part’s a shower curtain from a thrift store, you know, again using those ideas of reuse.