Sarah Edwards caught local fashionistas by surprise with I Am Mpls! in 2010, her annual fashion-focused variety show that integrates music, art, comedy, food and a runway show featuring nonprofessional models.

“I originally created I Am Mpls! as a creative outlet because I love fashion and wanted to produce a show,” said Edwards, 29. “I was sick of the fashion world being so uninviting.”

Now in its fifth year, the show is expanding — and inviting participation from across the river — as St. Paul gets its own show. Recently, Edwards talked about what to expect with the new show, who’s modeling this year and what we should wear to the events.

Q: What is the mission of I Am Mpls!?

A: To connect folks from different industries in hopes of collaborating and creating new experiences. I ask people to support local businesses, celebrate them, ask how they can get involved or help.

 

Q: What’s new this year?

A: I have a new perspective, a new venue, new people and, most important, time to grow and learn as an individual. We are hosting the show at First Avenue, which is really exciting.

 

Q: Are Minneapolitans upset that you added St. Paul to the mix?

A: Of course. It is bound to happen. But I’d rather be making something and criticized, than criticizing and making nothing.

 

Q: The runway models aren’t typical models. Who are they?

A: It’s a mix of people. One example is Kim Bartmann. She owns Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette, Red Stag, Third Bird, Tiny Diner, Pat’s Tap, etc. My goal has been to meet her and tell her story since I first set foot in Bryant-Lake Bowl. Another model is Sondra Samuels, CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, an organization that works to end poverty in north Minneapolis through education.

 

Q: Last year, you surprised attendees by marrying your fiancé, Jared Lukes, on stage. Any surprises in store this year?

A: I really hope so! I mean, it is the 30th anniversary of “Purple Rain,” so Prince — if you are reading this — we would love to celebrate the anniversary of “Purple Rain” at I Am Mpls! at First Avenue.

 

Q: What should attendees wear?

A: Whatever makes them happy. Some folks use it as a way to get super dressed up; others come in jeans and a flannel. It’s really about being comfortable and enjoying the energy of the show.

 

Q: What’s your personal motto?

A: I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.