MINNEAPOLIS — When Arianne Zagar, a local artist, was chosen as one of the select few designers to be a lead producer of Fashion Week Minnesota, she knew she had a unique opportunity.
"I decided we would use this platform to make a change," she said.
Zagar was born in Wisconsin but has never stayed put in the Midwest. She spent time living in Australia and New York City, and she's traveled to 40 countries, including Sierra Leone.
"A little over 10 years ago I fell for Sierra Leone in a very hard way," Zagar said. "I went there and I spent about four months."
She maintains a deeper connection with the West African country since it's where her husband, Mikel Freeman, grew up. There, Freeman was scouted as a young, talented soccer player and played professionally for 10 years, in leagues in Denmark and Southeast Asia.
Zagar and Freeman had an idea to build a soccer complex in the town of Lungi to give other young players from Sierra Leone the same opportunity, and now they're having Fashion Week Minnesota play a part in it.
Black and White Night, a happening Friday at W Minneapolis - The Foshay, is a black-tie gala fundraiser to raise money for the soccer complex for which Zagar and Freeman have already purchased land. The event will feature couture and original designs from six local artists, including Zagar herself, whose designs represent the beauty and culture she experienced while visiting Sierra Leone.
"When I was there, I saw a lot of fishermen and they were weaving their own nets," Zagar said. "So not only are we playing on black and white and soccer, and the different patterns that you would see geometrically on a soccer ball, but kind of where this comes from is the fishermen in Sierra Leone."
Zagar says 100% of the event's proceeds will go to the Mikel Freeman Foundation to help build the complex (if you'd like to attend the event or make a donation, visit here or connect with Zagar via Instagram.)
"We’re going to use the funds that have already been coming in and will continue to come in to build a soccer facility – not only including two real pitches that everyone can practice on, but a facility in between with exercise equipment, healthy food, healthy juice," Zagar said.
Freeman, now with a professional scouting course under his belt, is excited to help young men with live out the future he had.
"For me, when I saw my age group and the younger boys coming up, when I watch them, I knew these boys compared to my time as a professional," Freeman said. "Seeing these younger guys in my country, I know they got talent for sure. So what is hard to develop this talent because of a lack of facility."
With the help of the local Minnesota community, he's hopeful that will soon change.