Dressing for the decades: What to wear at gala

Elegance in Navy

Elegance in Navy

It’s almost time for one of the major fixtures on our community’s fall social and philanthropic calendar: the Annual Friends of FEMAP Gala.

As many locals here know, FEMAP (Federacion Mexicana de Empresas y Asociaciones Privadas) is a nongovernmental nonprofit organization serving future and expectant mothers in Ciudad Juárez. FEMAP founder Guadalupe Arizpe De la Vega wanted to make family planning and prenatal care accessible to women living in poverty and has worked side-by-side with many El Pasoans, including longtime leaders Adair Margo, Mary Ann Dodson, and Dr. Jack Heydemann, to make this goal a reality.

What started out as a two-room clinic named Clinica de la Familia became the beloved Hospital de la Familia, where thousands of babies have been born since 1976. I have been a serious supporter of FEMAP since I visited that hospital in Juarez years ago. I was amazed at the medical services provided with such limited resources.

Today FEMAP has two full-service inpatient hospitals, a nursing school, community-based health programs helping children and teenagers develop emotionally and physically, and a micro-finance program. It’s a good cause and hundreds of people from both sides of the Border are expected to attend the benefit ball at the Judson Williams Civic Center this Friday, September 20.

Anna Aleman, executive director of the FEMAP Foundation, tells me that this year’s theme is “Decades: 1973-2013” to celebrate FEMAP’s four decades of service and the Foundation’s two decades of fundraising.

In 1973, when Guadalupe founded FEMAP, disco was king and everyone was doing the Hustle under mirror balls and strobe lights. So for this anniversary year, the gala’s entertainment will start with ‘70s disco tunes and work its way up through hits of the past to the present, while celebrating each decade of the organization’s milestones.

So, naturally, women are asking me how they should dress for this themed party but still be elegant and stylish. Good question! Here are some thoughts on the questions I’m hearing:

  •  Length? Either cocktail length or long ball gowns are appropriate. Both are in fashion. Choose the length that makes you feel the most fabulous.
  • Color? Navy blue is by far the most up-to-date color for evening wear this year. It is so trite to say it’s the new black.  Ok I won’t say it.  In addition to navy, burgundy and teal are great evening colors.
  • Details? One of this season’s top trends is the return of lace and illusion – sheer fabrics to cover a little but still tease.
  • Jewelry? Less jewels on the dress itself – not so much in sequins or beading.  More drama in colored stone necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Think sapphire or blue topaz

I hear that some tickets are still available for the gala! Call 544-4151 or visit www.femap.org

 

New season, new surroundings, new venture!

This coming week brings a special business milestone for me: a new store within our store. Any small-business owner – or large business owner, for that matter – can relate when I say it’s both exciting and a little un-nerving when you dream of something new and you watch it come to fruition.

To back up, earlier this year, after a lot of thought, I decided to move forward with a business expansion opportunity: a fine jewelry boutique. It was a natural progression for our mission to dress women on the Border in style from head to toe.

Tres Mariposas has been under construction much of this summer to build this new boutique within our store’s footprint and it’s finally coming together. We’ve torn up our store and are putting in designer display areas to create an amazing fine jewelry environment for customers.  We’ve debated about perfect lighting, about interesting wall textures, about just-right pieces to go in the cases.

However, as I write this, I confess I am a tad nervous about whether everything will be finished in time for our grand opening this Wednesday!  But hey, if you don’t plan a party or special event, you’ll never get finished, right?

The building project is only a part of the picture, though. The key components: people and product. My to-do list is long, but I can check these off with pleasure:

  • We hired Carmen and Flori, two fabulous associates with serious fine jewelry expertise and experience.  They have integrated seamlessly into our retail environment that emphasizes teamwork.
  • We went to the world’s largest jewelry market/show in Las Vegas in June, and carefully selected top designers to carry.  In every industry with designer lines, you can’t just pick what you want and buy it.  The vendor decides if you are      “worthy enough to carry their product.” You see all kinds of jockeying for different designers in the prestige jewelry world.  We are thrilled to be launching with some really gorgeous jewelry from Ivanka Trump, Yvel, Carrera & Carrera, and Cassis, in addition to best-selling lines from Ippolita, Jude Frances, and others that we already carry.

Needless to say I have robbed my “Retirement Piggy Bank” to invest dollars in personnel, boutique build-out and expensive inventory, but I’ve never been one to stick to the status quo when an exciting new opportunity presents itself.

We’re in the countdown now. We’ve got jewelry trunk shows for four days and lots of festivities from September 11 -14. Drop in and see what it can look like when you dream of new changes – and your dreams come true!

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Business Success and Philanthropy Go Together for Jeweler

Ethiopian immigrants are now employed in full time jobs in Israel, and with the launch of this beautiful and affordable new collection, they are helping to bring the same educational services to other new Ethiopian immigrant students.

Ethiopian immigrants are now employed in full time jobs in Israel, and with the launch of this beautiful and affordable new collection, they are helping to bring the same educational services to other new Ethiopian immigrant students.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “doing well by doing good” – a phrase describing a business that is financially successful at the same time it is working toward making the world a better place. Instead of the corporation’s generosity hurting its bottom line, the company reaps rewards.

“Well-known companies have already proven that they can differentiate their brands and reputations as well as their products and services if they take responsibility for the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate,” write business consultants George Pohle and Jeff Hittner in a report from the IBM Institute for Business Value. “These companies are practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a manner that generates significant returns to their businesses.”

Maybe it’s retention of top people who share in the values of giving back to society or maybe it’s better morale that incentivizes people to work harder for a company they respect. Maybe it’s just good karma. Whatever the explanation, a growing number of corporations contribute financially to charitable organizations, allow employees to volunteer for good causes on company time, and give back to their communities in many ways.

And then there are some companies that go beyond those generous gestures to make doing good an integral and transformative part of the way they do business. For instance, 3M has the 3P program — “Pollution Prevention Pays.” Employees get paid for ideas that reduce pollutants in 3M’s manufacturing processes and products.  Since it was launched in 1975, 10,000 projects have eliminated more than 1.9 million tons of pollutants – and saved the company $1.7 billion. Now that’s transformative!

I have gotten to know a jewelry company that, like 3M, goes beyond simple financial charity to make a major difference. The company, Yvel, is committed to help struggling immigrants in Israel have better lives.

Yvel (“Levy” backwards) was founded in 1986 by Orna Levy, a member of the Mousseueff family famous for importing fine pearls and designing exquisite pearl jewelry, and her husband Isaac Levy, who emigrated with his family from Buenos Aires. Isaac’s family faced poverty and hardships before succeeding in their new country, a childhood that he never forgot.

“My way of repairing the world is to give others what I didn’t have as a child,” he says, “and to help repair the weakest links in Israeli society – our immigrants and, in particular, Ethiopian immigrants.”

About 90 percent of the 100 employees working in Yvel’s design and production facility outside Jerusalem are immigrants; they come from more than 20 very different countries and cultures, including Iraq, Syria, Russia, and the United States.

Then, to take their corporate social responsibility mission even further, the Levys set up a company within their company: a new line of jewelry designed and produced by a group of Israeli immigrants who have faced particular challenges, Ethiopian Jews.

In 2010, the Levys founded the Megemeria School of Jewelry to train and employ Ethiopian-Isrealis whose people were expelled from their native Ethiopia in the 1970s and who now number more than 120,000 and who have high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Megemeria, which means “genesis” or beginnings, teaches students jewelry design, goldsmithing, gem setting and pearl-stringing, all artisanal skills that can earn them jobs at Yvel and other jewelry manufacturers. Training is free and the students receive monthly stipends; mentors also help them learn every day skills for success.

It sounds great. In addition, the designs coming out of this new venture look very intriguing. Their Africa-inspired pieces in brass and gold-plate are simple and creative and their sales bode well for the Megemeria business inside the Yvel business. The hope is for it to become self-sustaining in the future.

I am excited to see in person some of these pieces when Yvel representatives are here on September 12 for a trunk show during the grand opening of the new Tres Mariposas jewelry department. It’s a special boutique within a store!

 

I also can’t wait to see Orna and Isaac Levy’s award-winning cultured pearl necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. These lustrous pearls come in beautiful colors and innovative settings and are unlike anything else we’ve ever had at the store. And when I buy a piece that I’ll like to wear, I know I’m helping to support a good cause on the other side of the world!

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