In Memoriam: Tamara Zahn

It’s still surreal to me that Tamara Zahn, our highly energetic, statuesque, beautiful Board President is no longer with us. Her passing leaves a huge hole in our small community of women leaders and in so many people’s lives in general – she was loved and respected by hundreds and hundreds of people.

Tamara found out about PATTERN before it was even PATTERN. She was among the first, if not THE first local leader to take our vision of a city bustling with fashion art and commerce seriously. Emails with her IDI email address appear in my inbox as far back as June of 2010 when the effort around growing the Indianapolis fashion industry was just starting to coalesce. In the spring of 2012, when we hosted a fireside chat with a local internet famous style blogger, I personally invited Tamara to attend, and she came! It was really incredible having someone like her, a symbol of great professional and civic success, supporting our modest community of fashion makers and lovers. Her showing up, taking a personal interest, and being so enthusiastic about the whole thing provided me with the confidence to keep going with the audacious idea of building a fashion community in Indianapolis. At the event, Tamara went on record, enthusiastically endorsing PATTERN, and after stepping down from her role at IDI she joined PATTERN’s advisory board.

Tamara was there from the very beginning. Believing. Supporting. Encouraging. I just can’t believe she’s gone.

Yet while Tamara is no longer with us physically, I believe with all my heart that she is watching us from above, cheering us on, proud of what we’ve accomplished together yet rooting for us to continue pushing for Indianapolis to reach her full potential in spite of so many odds and obstacles.

Below, is an Op Ed that Tamara penned for the 3rd volume of PATTERN magazine. While it was written over seven years ago, stats aside, it still feels relevant. PATTERN has come a long way since 2013, but re-reading Tamara’s words serves as a reminder of exactly how far we’ve come – a progression in which she’s played such an important role.

Thank you for everything, TZ! Your wisdom, and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.

“Two years ago, I never thought I would stay in Indy. Now, I don’t want to leave. Thank you, PATTERN.” says recent DePauw graduate Maria Dickman who has become an active participant and organizer of the community’s activities and growth.

Yes, thank you, PATTERN!

I love this community. Individuals, organizations – and movements — like PATTERN are transforming Indianapolis from a good city into a great city.

I am amazed at the extraordinary things that people are doing here in Indianapolis. This passion and creativity are what inspired me during my nearly twenty years at Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. (IDI) and what inspires me, now, during my current self-prescribed (and much treasured) time off.

I count PATTERN high on my list of what is working in this city. The achievements of this dedicated and growing team of talented volunteers exemplifies one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small team of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world”.

As a longtime lover and practitioner of community development, I observe in PATTERN the ingredients of authentic community organizing. PATTERN is…

Building Community. Fashion creators and consumers are joining together under the umbrella of PATTERN. The numbers of like-minded individuals who are coming together are impressive and increasing dramatically: from 200 members just over a year ago to 600*, now. This year, PATTERN will reach out to engage students who are enrolled in relevant courses in more than 6** area universities and colleges. This effort is instrumental in keeping smart and educated talent here. Anyone and everyone is welcome. It’s free. It’s inclusive. It’s diverse.   

Working Together. PATTERN members are committed to making Indianapolis a better place. They are putting their talents and time into action. Once a month, members come together in meetups to learn from each other, improve their businesses and brands, and offer their support and contacts. Acquaintances are becoming friendships, and silos are collapsing into collaborations.

Telling the Story and Showcasing the Best of the Best. This group is aspirational. They keep an eye on the fashion capitals of New York, Paris and beyond – but are not intimidated. They are happy to display some of what makes Indianapolis shine via each beautiful, well-scripted issue of PATTERN magazine. This issue is no exception. The world is taking note. The previous issue received more than 30,000*** online reads from national and international viewers. No doubt, the next Vera Bradley or Finish Line will be featured.   

It is not coincidental that this issue focuses on transit. Both transit and PATTERN are essential to the future well-being and vitality of our community. Transit is all about connections; that’s what PATTERN does well.  

If you are already a member of PATTERN, wonderful. Your talent and energy are what makes a difference.  Please keep up the great work. If you are just learning about PATTERN – welcome. Can you help? Always.  Sign up and jump in. Spread the word. Share your time and talent. And most importantly, support the individuals, the organization and the movement.

– Tamara Zahn

*PATTERN is still as committed as ever to building a community of creatives. Only these days we have over 13,000 members and followers, and easily three times that number of readers, rather than 600. It used to be that our main mode of outreach was our monthly meetups, but now with programs like SUPPLY, St’Artup317, and StitchWorks as well as our events (when we’re not in quarantine!) our reach and impact has continued to grow.

**PATTERN has built relationships with over 20 colleges and has hosted close to 100 students through its internship and fellowship programs.

***PATTERN digital and print have over one millions combined reads now!

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