Selective Focus: Sasha Howell


With Selective Focus, we plan to highlight a variety of visual artists, giving some exposure to people working in disciplines that don’t immediately come to mind. This week, we have one of those people. Sasha Howell tells us about her corner of the design world.

SH: I am a costume designer! I work with local theatre and film groups in designing and implementing a costume design – usually my own. I also dabble in my own fashion design and anything to do with clothing and textile – shoes, accessories, hair, etc. I originally started student life at UMD with a Studio Art major and quickly realized it wasn’t exactly what I was looking to do – creatively. So I switched to a Studio Art MINOR and gravitated towards the Theatre department because, to me, that was a much more practical and exciting use of my talents and interests. I became quick friends with all the right people and worked closely with the costume shop there. I instantly fell in love with costumes because with EVERY new show there was opportunity to learn new techniques, new history, and to try something new! I quickly became known in town for costumes and demand started to increase. On average, I’m working on at LEAST 2 overlapping shows, but always tossing around ideas on several shows at once. On the side, I also paint abstract series and enjoy making jewelry.

"The Liar" with Cade Kowalczak (middle), Corey Bardon (left), and Luke Moravec (right)

“The Liar” with Cade Kowalczak (middle), Corey Bardon (left), and Luke Moravec (right)


If I count costuming a few shows in college, I’ve been at this for about 6 years now. It’s been about 2 years in the fashion arena.

Challenges are new daily and never-relenting. Being artistic in a “scripted” world is a struggle for me, but it forces me to think creatively “inside the lines” and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for me. I am also in a position where I need to be multi-faceted – I need to be an artist, a businessperson, a networking queen, a problem-solver, an accountant, and sometimes a therapist.

"Bug" starring Erin Mcconnell (right), Molly O'Neill (middle), and Cory Anderson (left).

“Bug” starring Erin Mcconnell (right), Molly O’Neill (middle), and Cory Anderson (left).


Theatre is also incredibly fulfilling in so many ways. With every new show offers the opportunity for new friends, new skills, more experience, and new life lessons. I am also glad to do fashion/art/jewelry on the side. It is a thing I control completely and that satisfies the control freak inside me.

"Hair" at the Duluth Playhouse, with Zach Stofer

“Hair” at the Duluth Playhouse, with Zach Stofer


My costumes are on stage year-round (a Fall, Winter, and Spring show) at The College of St. Scholastica. I also design for Renegade Theatre Company, The Duluth Playhouse, and local film shoots.

Shane May in CSS's production of "Endgame."

Shane May in CSS’s production of “Endgame.”


CSS Theatre just had a show called Boy Gets Girl. I’m super proud of all the hard work that was put in, the people, and the costumes for this show and it was a pretty profound show. I am also excited to costume and ACT IN Marie Antoinette with Renegade Theatre Company this Summer! I am rarely on stage, but I’m so excited to costume AND act. Renegade has a very special place in my heart, and I’m so excited to be involved.

Seth Matthews from "Hair."

Seth Matthews from “Hair.”


Something exciting that I haven’t really announce publicly yet – My husband and I are in the VERY beginning stages of planning our business and I think all of our area sewers/fashion/crafty people are going to be pleased. We are planning on opening a fabric store here in town! We’ve been planning for a while, but with the recent announcement of the Duluth Hancock Fabrics store closing, the need and urgency have increased for us and the people that need a fabric store in town. I would like to focus strictly on fashion fabrics, teaching sewing classes, and finding a way to give back to the community that has helped grow, shape, and teach us. No opening date is set yet, but we are hoping to gain some ground by next year.

My personal designer FB page is here. I’m still in the process of planning my fashion show’s future, but you can check out pictures and video on the Facebook page here. And randomly, my friend Shane and I started a small horror film company called Murder Pretty that you can follow on Facebook here.

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