The VFILES Foundation today announced their second cohort of VFILES Lab Fellows and the launch of their inaugural VFILES Lab Discovery Class…

Recipients of the VFILES Lab 002 Fellows include American Ballet Theatre Soloist Gabe Stone Shayer, fashion designer Elena Valez, community leaders David Sabastian and Sara Haile of SKDRW, RIAA Gold Certified and Grammy nominated engineer and producer Tweek Tune and spiritual-empowerment expert, Aliza Kelly. The VFILES Lab is the flagship program of the VFILES Foundation 501(c)(3). The VFILES Lab Fellow program involves funding, mentorship and a calendar of events and programming specific to each Fellow’s mission, business goals and application.

VFILES launched in 2012 with the mission to demolish the opportunity gap, build open-source creativity, and invent a creative democracy. In 2021 VFILES pivoted into a non profit organization with a simple goal – to empower creative change makers who can impact systemic change. The non-profit invests in creators from underrepresented communities to enable socioeconomic mobility and empower sustainable wealth creation. Both the year-long fellowship and discovery program are designed to help selected creators execute across their creative, business and impact goals

VFILES Lab is an incubator and discovery platform with a mandate to discover, educate, and empower cultural creators from underrepresented and underpowered communities. “We see Cultural Creators as Changemakers. We see Creatives as engines for impact. If we can help our Fellows execute across their business and impact goals, we can make the world a better place.” Julie Anne Quay, VFILES Founder.

The VFILES LAB 002 FELLOW cohort comprises 5 creators across fashion, music, dance and spiritual wellness who are also focused on creating impact through the further development of their businesses and creative careers. The group includes: (further details below)

  • ●  American Ballet Theatre dancer Gabe Stone Shayer – I’m devoted to creating work that shows the strength and necessity of art and how it can affect social change while also building a bridge between future change makers and opportunity!”
  • ●  Fashion designer Elena Velez (graduate of the VFILES RUNWAY program) – “[My] studio focuses on democratizing creative and entrepreneurial resources for makers outside of typically established creative capitals and provides a pipeline to the industry for small brands through sales opportunity and network access.”
  • ●  Spiritual-empowerment expert Aliza Kelly – “I aspire to bring astrology and mysticism down to earth; to make spiritual tools accessible, relatable, and relevant for everyone. We all deserve to feel comfortable in our own skin — to embrace the multidimensionality of our unique experiences.”
  • ●  Fashion designers and philanthropist founders, David Sabastian and Sara Haile for SKDRW – Our mantra is simple: we’re not here to produce just another song or T-shirt. Everything we create has to have an impact. We believe that together, we can create a world where no one is left behind”
  • ●  Grammy nominated producer / engineer Tweek Tune – “I plan to create a program to provide students with a fun quality music education using my curriculum, which will inspire them to love creating music and the music business. My goal is to start building students’ confidence and creativity and I want to provide music opportunities for them.” This year also sees the launch of the VFILES LAB Discovery Class. A group of twelve artists chosen from the VFILES Lab application program, these artists will receive a year-long schedule of education and mentorship and full access to the VFILES discovery network – events, showcases and 12 Mercer street. “We are excited to launch the Lab Discovery Class program. We plan to use the VFILES channels to amplify, showcase and develop the Discovery Class while at the same time providing tools and mentorship to further these artists at the earlier stages of their careers.” The VFILES Lab Discovery Class cohort includes: Director Kelly Butts-Spirito , Artists Analise Azadian, Dustrial Dre, Sweetz, Myles Brando and Fashion Designers Celine Kwan, Seokwoon Yoon, Ari Serrano, Leaf Xia, Israel Cobb-Mcintyre for Hubane and Justin Joyner and Andrea Espinoza for username.world.

Mentors for the VFILES LAB (including both Fellows and the Discovery Class) include fashion legend and VOGUE powerhouse Candy Pratts Price, a long time treasured collaborator and former VFILES Runway mentor, and Roc Nation’s iconic Jana Fleishman with more to be announced in the coming months.

“On behalf of our team and our board, I am incredibly excited and proud to introduce the second cohort VFILES LAB Fellows. The simple act of this group succeeding is impactful. They can create systemic impact simply by doing what they do best. Each represents a focused direction with humility and grace and are about more than just their individual selves; moving culture forward and focusing on social good,” said Julie Anne Quay, Founder of VFILES. Additional programming for each Lab Fellow and the Lab Discovery Class will be announced over the coming months. For more information, please follow VFILES Instagram or Website.

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