Jake Gerth, Rise of the Cool Kids

Jake Gerth is an artist, graphic designer and co-founder of Rise of the Cool Kids, an annual fashion, music and art event, along with Duru Armagan. The event will be held at Washington Park on Friday, October 25 from 5 p.m. to midnight. Gerth is also the co-founder of frameshop in Over-the-Rhine.

How did frameshop get started?
My business partner’s name is Jake also—Jake Baker. He’s been doing framing every summer forever. One day, we were talking and decided frameshop was something we wanted to pursue. We like that it reflects the arts and a live-in population in Over-the-Rhine; having a frameshop in a neighborhood really says that there are people here.

What's your background?
I do a lot of events, and I’m a graphic designer by trade. I used to paint and I used to tattoo, so I try to get involved in anything that’s artistic.

What is Rise of the Cool Kids (ROCK)?
We always use the term “harness the young energy of the city." ROCK is a celebration of personal style. All the partners in the projection fashion show are all locally owned businesses, so it’s an eclectic group of young business owners in the fashion world.

From an outside perspective, Cincinnati is sometimes seen as a conservative, slow town, so that’s why we called it Rise of the Cool Kids: Let’s come together, have a party, dance and show people that Cincinnati has more to offer than old-school corporate money.

How did you get involved in ROCK?
Duru and I came up with it last year. We saw that Cincinnati Fashion Week was lying a little dormant and needed some excitement. Everything the organizers were doing was high-end and not necessarily a reflection of what was really on the streets.

ROCK is a reflection of what you see on the street when you’re walking downtown or through Over-the-Rhine: not necessarily people going to work, but people going out—what they’re wearing when they decide to have a good time or go to a party.

What’s new about it this year?
The big thing this year is [that we're hosting it in] Washington Park. Last year, we did ROCK in a warehouse in Northside. We wanted to grow it this year as far as people who attend. Coming off events in the park like Lumenocity, we asked ourselves, “What’s going to be different?”

This year, we’re actually building a castle out of scaffolding in the park. People will come and see this big structure, and we’re hoping that will create a lot of organic buzz. We don’t want to be too corporate, and when people see this, they’re going to ask questions. I hope that half the people who show up didn’t plan on coming until the day of!

We’ll have a photo booth on hand, we’ll have a projection screen, and DJs will be playing music. It’s all about the dance party this year. ROCK is probably the last event we’re going to have in Washington Park this year, and we want to celebrate the great year we’ve had and all the progress we’ve made.

Why the scaffolding?
ArtWorks is a sponsor this year, and that’s where the idea [took hold]; we pitched the idea and worked with one of their contacts who does scaffolding. The scaffolding itself represents the idea of building things, fixing things. There actually was a lot of thought and strategy behind it.

What will the event be like this year?
The first two hours are an ArtWorks happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. All the sales from that event benefit ArtWorks. We’re hoping that draws a separate crowd—the young professionals, people coming after work for a beer. We figure the dance party will go from 7 to 11 p.m. but be in full swing by 9 p.m.

Your event is all about fashion. What’s your personal style?
Since I own a frame shop, my styles are very rugged. I get sawdust on myself every day, but I still want to be fashionable. There’s a style called mill town, and it’s flannel, rugged denim and blue-collar-revival type stuff. It has to be something I can get dirty in. I’m not trying to be pretty, I’m just trying to be functional.

Interview by Robin Donovan