History

A Brief History of McGrews

Updated 2/14/2016

 

McGrews opened its doors to the public in 2001, in Salt Lake City's original Art Space building downtown on Pierpont Avenue.

 

From a mere 300 square foot upstairs loft, the outfit has expanded to a more than 3000 square foot storefront (and for particular projects - up to 10,000 feet) of workshops and showroom space. From its beginnings as a sole proprietorship, it's now run by several designers and their artisan staff plus at least three college or high school interns every semester.

 

The picture to the right shows what the storefront looked like in 2010, prior to a major remodel.
A neighborhood focal point, McGrews has added appeal and magic to Pierpont Avenue and its downtown area.

 

The shop, its staff and friends have played host, formally and casually, to the many gallery strollers, tourists, photographers, journalists and adventurers who've perused the block's interesting features.

 

As a cultural anchor the shop has provided a hub for society's movers. At special gallery events, meetings and impromptu get-togethers, celebrities, artists, composers, authors, chefs and politicians have been in our midst. Many citizens have stopped by over the years to chat about the news of the day, their current projects, or even 18th century tailoring.

 

The personal and professional paths of many people have intersected and shifted course within our shop.

 

And for over fourteen years, the shop's clients and projects have included everyone and everything imaginable, from films and plays to political campaigns, dance productions and pets.

 

December 2015 ended with McGrews (plus 98% of Pierpont Avenue's other tenants) moving out! We moved nearly fifteen years worth of collected materials, tools, costumes, props and fixtures, and it was quite an ordeal! The historic building we occupied for so long was purchased earlier in 2015 by out-of-town investors who more than quadrupled the rents.... and so goes the timeless tale of gentrification.

 

Location shooting. 60 mph winds on the Salt Flats to make our Wheel of Time-inspired film "Flight from Shadow"

Location shooting. 60 mph winds on the Salt Flats to make our Wheel of Time-inspired film "Flight from Shadow"

Our designers and crew are enthusiastic about our NEW location in Salt Lake's Granary District.
Our new, larger space will allow us to build larger entertainment productions, host guest designers, plus hold tailoring and cosplay workshops:) Our shops will be open by appointment only through summer of 2016 as we remodel our space.

 

We look forward to hosting a big open-house once our space takes shape. We will send invitations to our clients, collaborators and vendors plus announce events through social media channels.

 

Regardless of where we are located (sometimes we rent extra space to work on enormous projects and sometimes we take our work home with us), the view shared by everyone on our main collaborative team is that each project and each performative event deserves excellence in its form and function, engineering and execution, tailoring and fit. That's the way it is with this bunch.

 

Naturally, there are many good stories about how everyone met one another and decided to join forces. Jen, however, scolds that "collaboration" is the wrong word, that collaboration is something college students are forced to do in 'group work.' In the real world, she says, the discriminating and determined among us get to choose our associates and co-creators.
Operation managers Jen and Hraefn, hamming it up for a photo. Designer and shop steward Jen oversees all the tailoring and wearable elements of the business. Producer and designer Hraefn (pronounced "Raven") Wulfson oversees everything related to production design, sets, props, miniatures and special effects. Both have long resumes in the entertainment world and both work in client relations as well as script development. They are tireless artistes who champion excellent form and function in the things they create and the projects/people they supervise. On some occasions, they even wear costumes.

Daily shop operations managers Jennifer McGrew and Hraefn Wulfson ham it up for a photo.
Jen oversees the costumes, tailoring and wearable elements of the business.
Hraefn (pronounced "Raven") Wulfson oversees everything related to production design, sets, props, miniatures and special effects.
Both have long resumes in the entertainment world and both work in client relations as well as script development. They are tireless artistes who champion excellent form and function in the things they create and the projects/people they supervise.
On some occasions, they even wear costumes.

Pierpont Avenue storefront. Always interesting people passing through the neighborhood. Hraefn Wulfson and Charmone Ford.

Pierpont Avenue storefront. Always interesting people passing through the neighborhood. Hraefn Wulfson and Charmone Ford.

Running Salt Lake Comic Con's Cosplay at the Leonardo's Classes. Danielle Chard, Dan Farr and Jennifer McGrew.
Kabrina Miller as Moiraine Damodred from our second 'Wheel of Time' inspired film, currently in production

Kabrina Miller as Moiraine Damodred from our second 'Wheel of Time' inspired film, currently in production

 

Pierpont shop location undergoing a big remodel!

 

Hraefn and Russ, working on giant stage props for USANA

Hraefn and Russ, working on giant stage props for USANA

 

A few of our crew (Eliza, Jessica, Jen and Ivonne) running the Cosplay Competition and the Cosplay First Aid Station (giving free costume repair supplies and services to all Salt Lake Comic Con attendees). 2014

A few of our crew (Eliza, Jessica, Jen and Ivonne) running the Cosplay Competition and the Cosplay First Aid Station (giving free costume repair supplies and services to all Salt Lake Comic Con attendees). 2014

Staff and friends, steampunk in Salt Lake. Photo courtesy of Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune

Staff and friends, steampunk in Salt Lake. Photo courtesy of Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2010.

Pierpont Avenue, home of McGrew Studios. Photo courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Pierpont Avenue, home of McGrew Studios. Photo courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune.

 

A BOWSER custom head, in progress at the shop

A BOWSER custom head, in progress at the shop

Artists Greg and Tim Hildebrant created Lord Scrennagle's portrait for James White’s novella “Custom Fitting,” and the illustration graces the screen of our giant steampunked computer screen in our shop's front parlour. This image appeared originally as the cover of Stellar #2, a 1976 science fiction anthology published by Random House division Ballantine Books. This image is a very important piece of the McGrews' mythos for a number of reasons.
To the right is Jennifer McGrew, who started sewing and building costumes at around age nine.
Forty-some years later, she still hasn't kicked this habit.

 

In fact, for decades she has indoctrinated many others-  friends and collaborators as well as staff, colleagues, interns, clients and the public into adopting her peculiar world view that things should be made beautifully and with quality. She is something of a sartorial tyrant on these particular matters. But it is also widely known that she is a warm friend, a fierce ally, a mentor and cheerleader to many.

 

Prior to returning to Utah in 2001, she had lived on both coasts and worked at several regional performing arts companies. She built, designed and managed wardrobe, crews, and clients for their productions plus for other professional organizations. She even completed two graduate degrees and taught college courses for fifteen years.

 

If you're into seeing our cartel's professional resumes, there is more to see and know about us at social media sites plus at LinkedIn and IMDB. That's what these things are for.

 

McGrews_header