TROY — Dr. Lynn Barnes is seeing her dreams come true with the help of her personal relationship with God, her husband and a lot of community support.
The Casstown woman is opening a fashion design studio in downtown Troy on the square, with the first set of classes starting next week. She will teach fashion design and merchandising, sewing, clothing construction, couture technique and historic dress.
Barnes started her career in southern California, where she’s from, as a home economics teacher. She progressed through clothing and textiles studies, getting a masters in the international study of quality control at San Francisco State, and becoming a doctor and Buckeye at The Ohio State University.
Barnes got her doctorate in 1875-1920 textiles, specifically looking at maritime dress and the textiles used on board the luxury yachts of the gilded age (some readers may recall Barnes’ trip on the whaling sea vessel Charles W. Morgan this summer as part of her studies).
In her 30-year career, Barnes has taught at Bluffton University, Eastern Kentucky University and West Virginia University. Her classes included retail merchandise, historic dress and fashion design. In West Virginia, she also helped couture an historic dress collection.
But the move to small town Troy was purely for love — five years ago Barnes met a “fabulous” man named Christopher Johnson. They are now celebrating their second year of marriage and live outside of Casstown.
Although she is adjunct faculty at Edison Community College in humanities and ancient arts, the step to the fashion studio came through a different subject — music. For 46 years, Barnes has worked in the piano and vocal field as well. She started teaching private piano and voice lessons when she moved to this area. Her numbers swelled to the point that she began to pray for a studio to hold her lessons instead of going to people’s homes, Barnes said.
Then in casual conversation early this summer, one of the piano moms mentioned about trying to teach her daughter to sew, and Barnes said “I could do that.”’ By the first sewing lesson later that week, Barnes had five moms bringing their daughters. The girls were all in third to fifth grade.
“God had literally landed this in my lap,” Barnes said. “I said that (offered to teach) on a Tuesday, we started on a Thursday.”
As she was sharing this story with a close friend, her friend reminded her of a dream that she had put on a shelf.
“He told me ‘you need to open the design studio you told me about 25 years ago,’” Barnes said.
Barnes was still nervous about the idea until a trip to Montana last month. At a church service where she knew no one but her immediate companions, revelation struck.
“The pastor walked out on the stage and said ‘I’m here to tell somebody you need to pursue the dream you’ve always had. It’s fashion, and it’s a design studio you’ve dreamed about for 25 years. God is telling you He is behind you’,” Barnes said.
Her companions immediately turned to Barnes and said “that’s you, that’s you!” From there, there’s been no turning back. Barnes found a studio on the southwest corner of the Square in Troy with four big rooms, enough for a reception area, office space, music teaching and fashion design.
“I walked in and said ‘oh! this is perfect,’” Barnes said.
Just to be certain, she brought in her husband to look at the space as well.
“My husband said ‘this is perfect,’ too,” Barnes grinned.
Barnes hasn’t quit dreaming yet, though. She wants to take her students in the future to the fashion hot spots and see it firsthand.
“We’re going fabric shopping in New York City, then we’re going to Paris and London,” Barnes said, thinking two years down the road.
Barnes noted she has the connections needed to help someone get a career in this field.
“As long as human beings insist on wearing clothes, I can find you a job anywhere in the world,” Barnes declared.
For beginners, too
Even if a career in fashion design is not your focus, Barnes still has a class for you, she said.
“If you’re a home sewer, this is for you. If you want to be a fashion designer, this is for you,” Barnes said. “It’s available to anyone who wants to do this.”
She will offer basic clothing construction and advanced clothing construction for children and adults, including a special class for home schoolers to meet their curriculum criteria. All classes will include an open studio schedule, instruction book and workbook, assistance with fabric and pattern selections, and a final take-home project. Each class will also take a fashion-related field trip.
“We’ll go to places like Dayton Art Institute, to look at painting and sculptures through the eyes of fashion,” Barnes said. “You can see the importance of textiles, fabric and fashion throughout history.”
The classes will also work on a service project, no matter what level the student is at.
“My teaching philosophy is, once you’ve learned a skill, you need to give it back,” Barnes said.
The whole studio will complete a textiles-related project together, like creating blankets for a hospital or pillows for a shelter.
Classes are offered in 8-week sessions for $125 and will start Sept. 8. An open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 6.
M. Lynn Barnes Studio is located at 405 Public Square, Suite 255. For more information, call Dr. Barnes at (859) 779-0209 or email her at email@example.com.