For 45 years, Rose Costumes, originally Secondhand Rose, has been selling and renting costumes to schools and theaters, while providing individuals with grand imaginations to come explore the shop filled with unique, theatrical costumes. However, in March 2020, Annemarie Aldrich, owner of Rose Costumes, made the decision to shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which put a halt to all musicals planned for the year.
Being closed for months took a toll on Rose Costumes which led its owners to create a GoFundMe page to help salvage the business. That’s when Tiffany Fitzsimmons, Guyer High School art teacher, took it upon herself to come up with an idea to help save the community-loved business.
“When the pandemic hit, they had posted something about them being in fear of closure, and prior to that during this entire pandemic, Rose Costumes has been giving community outreach on their own dime, not for anything but they have donated tens of thousands of masks to people who need them during this time, for free,” Fitzsimmons said. “I had watched them do this mask initiative all this time during the pandemic and watch them give, give, give and then at the end here comes this message of kind of despair like, ‘We’re at a place where we don’t know if we can continue anymore,’ and my heart broke.”
Fitzsimmons, who is a longtime customer of Rose Costumes, decided while giving money to help support the business could help, it was only a temporary fix. There needed to be something more beneficial to continually raise money for them, and that is when the “Only in Denton” coloring book was born.
“I came up with the idea of a coloring book because I thought that was something everyone can do,” Fitzsimmons said. “Lots of people have kids, even adults like to color, and if I played on how much people love this town, which everyone who lives here loves it. I told [my students] all about it and said, ‘What can we do you guys, what do y’all think about making a coloring book, something that we can sell to create money — do you guys wanna stop what we’re doing and help these people?’”
Samantha Taylor, artist director for Rose Costumes, worked inside of the shop from 2012 to 2014, and now she works remotely from Denver, focusing on running the business social media pages and marketing materials.
Taylor said she felt relieved when Fitzsimmons reached out to her about the coloring book idea.
“The community is just so giving and so supportive, but we offered our services however we could,” Taylor said. “You know I said ‘If you need any help with the saving things that are a certain format or if you want help designing something, please just reach out.’ What an incredibly talented group of kids to go around and pick such awesome staples in Denton — it really threw me right back.”
After discussing the idea with her advanced junior and senior class, each student chose their favorite place in Denton and complied the artwork into a 28-page coloring book. Fitzsimmons describes the coloring book as “whimsical and fun, honoring everything that is incredible about this quirky little town.”
Guyer High School junior Reagan Mendeke drew the Morrison Corn Kits page of the coloring book.
“We all got to help come up with the landmarks and pick the ones that we wanted to draw,” Mendeke said. “I was excited — I’ve never done something like this before, and I was excited that our art was going to help somebody with their business or in a situation where they couldn’t handle it themselves.”
The “Only in Denton” coloring book has raised approximately $2,000 for Rose Costumes so far, and Fitzsimmons and her students are continuing to promote sales.
“You can make a lot of change or make a [big] difference with just even a small idea that you think of on your own, but it helps to have other people to help you,” Fitzsimmons said. “Obviously, I was able to do this because my students are amazing. I hope that they learn that they can make a difference with their art and with their creativity and use it for good, and I hope that they realize how [many] people love it and just be confident in themselves and their abilities and use their artwork for something that matters.”
Featured Image: Guyer High School student colors in page from the “Only in Denton” coloring book on March 17, 2021. Image by Maria Crane