People: Brian Thomas brings substance to the Cbus social scene

Erica Thompson

"My office is the Short North," said Brian Thomas during a late June interview at Hubbard Grille. Just two months ago, the 27-year-old founded event-planning and production company Impact Social. In the past couple weeks, he has revamped the company website and finalized his staff of five, which he typically communicates with remotely via e-mail, phone and text.

But Impact Social, which throws events and fundraisers for non-profit organizations and socially conscious businesses, is already gearing up for its fourth outing: Impact Fashion Chapter 2. The event takes place at Dahlia Bar & Lounge on Thursday, July 7.

Impact Fashion is a monthly series of industry mixers that allow newcomers in the fashion world to mingle with established professionals. Speakers for July include designer Gerardo Encinas andBuckeye Lifestyle magazine Founder and CEO Jasmine Tucker.

For those who aspire to a career in fashion, "it takes away that cold call, that burden of a random e-mail for making a connection," Thomas said.

Attendees enjoy custom cocktails, a DJ and a photo booth. A portion of the $10-$15 ticket sales will go to Fashion Week Columbus, a non-profit organization that highlights local fashion designers and awards scholarships to fashion design students.

The Impact Fashion series has already proven to be beneficial for everyone involved, as shown by the partnerships gained at last month's event.

"Heyman Talent [Agency] actually got three appointments," Thomas said. "And [Fashion Week Columbus Executive Director] Tommy McClure was able to pick out some new girls and some new guys he might be able to actually use for Fashion Week in the future."

McClure also believes the mixers are important to the city's fashion industry as a whole. "The more people we can get involved, the better for what we're doing here in Columbus," he said. "We want to keep Columbus as number three in the nation for fashion designers."

Put simply, Impact Social's mission is to add substance to the millennial social scene. "We try to throw events … that are actually bringing money in for these non-profits, but also bringing value in for young professionals [who are] trying to figure out where they want to go in their careers," Thomas said.

Thomas can recall being uncertain of his own career path. Prior to starting Impact Social, he worked for his family's company, which developed wireless sensor technology. "After about three and a half years, I just realized that it wasn't what I wanted to do," said the Upper Arlington native.

He studied mechanical engineering in college, but found his passion elsewhere. "My real education at Virginia Tech was planning events, starting different organizations [and] becoming the social chair of my engineering fraternity," he said. However, he didn't immediately think about translating those skills into a profession.

"I never considered myself an event planner until I started [Impact Social]," he said.

In addition to Impact Fashion, the company also hosts Impact Networking, a monthly series of wine-tasting events that encompass a greater variety of industries. "[It's] about overall professional development, learning about some non-profits and coming in to figure out essentially what's going on in Columbus," Thomas said.

The next Impact Networking event, Wine and Slice, takes place July 27 at Mikey's Late Night Slice Downtown. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Columbus Diaper Bank, which provides diapers for needy families.

According to Impact Social Creative Director Joel Torres, the company provides a consistent stream of donations for non-profits, which are typically unable to throw more than a single fundraising gala each year.

"In five years, I'd like to see Impact Social as a staple in Columbus and potentially expand to other markets that do have that need for events," Torres said.

Thomas agrees. "If you want to truly have a big impact on the city, and you want something to be done quickly … and to the best degree, you'll come to us," he said.

More About Brian Thomas

Age: 27

Day Job: Owner of Impact Social

Hometown: Upper Arlington

Current Neighborhood: Short North

Currently listening to: Kendrick Lamar

Favorite Restaurant in Columbus: Katalina's

Favorite Movie: "Super Troopers"

Favorite TV Show: "30 Rock"

What's your go-to karaoke jam? "What I Got" by Sublime.

"Impact Fashion Chapter 2"

6-10 p.m., Thursday, July 7

Dahlia Bar & Lounge,

Arena District