Tag Archives: Feature

BeadforLife’s Unique Poverty Eradication Project


One of the benefits of being a publisher is that I now have a platform to share and promote causes that empower and uplift women.  So when Amy Yanda-Lee, the communications manager from BeadforLife reached out to me, I didn’t hesitate to respond and to commit to helping her spread the word about their program to help women in Uganda.


BeadforLife is a unique poverty eradication project that builds economic and cultural bridges between impoverished Ugandan women and concerned citizens worldwide. Their primary goal is to help their members become independent and self-sustaining so that they can lift themselves out of poverty.

To achieve this, the organization offers two programs: Beading & Entrepreneurial Training  and their Shea Program in north Uganda. Women in the beading and entrepreneurial program use recycled paper to make beads and unique jewelry. The program participants meet biweekly where they sell their beads at fair trade prices. For their Shea program, BeadforLife buys the shea nuts that are harvested by the women and process them into shea nilotica which they use to produce their shea line. Both the beaded jewelry and shea products are marketed to women world wide who make their purchases online or at a bead party.

Most of the women that participate in the program are HIV+ or were displaced by the 20-year civil war in northern Uganda. The income generated from the program is used to pay their children’s school fees, buy medicine or invest in their farms. In addition to helping the women to generate money from their entrepreneurial endeavors, BeadforLife support the women by:

  • Assisting groups of women to build agricultural businesses by helping them to access plows, oxen and organic seeds so that they can grow more food and earn additional income;
  • literacy, entrepreneurial training and assistance with the opening of business bank accounts.
  • Helping young girls living in the Otuke and Iganga districts to buy uniforms, mattress, broom, and a year’s supply of sanitary pads.
  • Help to provide access to healthcare for malaria diagnosis, HIV testing, rubber boots to prevent snakebites, nutritional supplements and other health services.

As part of our exchange, Amy offered a sampling of the jewelry and shea products. I didn’t ask for nor was I expecting anything in return but I am so glad that I said yes.  I requested jewel tones and the colors are as vibrant and rich as they are in the photographs. The quality and craftmanship is excellent and they look really great with everything that I have worn them with thus far. I like them so much in fact that I am planning to purchase a few more pieces for myself and a few more to give as gifts this Christmas.

BeadforLife provides opportunities, not handouts, by creating a global market for beaded jewelry and shea products from Uganda. You can help to empower the women of Uganda to take control of their economic futures by making a donation or purchasing their beaded jewelryloose beads or shea products online. There are also opportunities to market their products in your home, office, church or at a community event.

BeadforLife is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with offices in the United States, France and Uganda. You can contact their US office, located in Boulder, CO at (303) 554-5901.

XoXo, Natasha

Featuring La’Rose FasChinn Designs

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Connecticut based designer and stylist Chinnyere La’Rose McPherson,(aka Chinn) is a designer and stylist who has been designing literally since the fifth grade. The 23-year-old Connecticut native loves color and texture and draws her inspiration from everything around her. She says her collection, Color Eruption (shown below) was inspired by a fish that she drew in elementary school.  She holds associate degrees in both fashion design and fashion merchandising from Fisher College in Massachusetts and plans to complete her studies at New York’s prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in the near future.

I love talented and creative people and when I came across Chinn’s designs I knew I wanted to feature her. I love her use of color and the mix of fabric in her designs.  I also love her styling (I mean who else would pair a bow tie with a formal black and white glen plaid, with leather trimmings and fringed fishtail dress?) Connecticut has got talent!

Designs and Styled by: Chinnyere La’Rose McPherson of La’Rose FasChinn Designs

Photo credit: David Haldane Photography 

Feature: Nigel Ramsay’s Fashion Show and Breast Cancer Benefit


These are the designs of Connecticut based designer Nigel Ramsay who will present his fall collection tomorrow, Saturday, October 27, 2012, 8 pm at 30 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT.

Ramsay’s passion for design has been with him since his first sewing class at Weaver High School in Hartford.  His designs are noted for their unique, alluring but simple elegance. A native of Jamaica, Ramsay’s designs also reflect his heritage through his use of vibrant color and rich fabrics.

I first met Nigel when he came down from Boston to participate in a charitable fashion show that I had organized.  Connecticut was not so fashion focused then, so I was just happy to learn that I would be getting an out of town designer to add to the roster of local ones for my charitable group fashion show. We were all pretty much blown away by his designs and realized then that he could  have actually carried the entire event alone.  Since then he has presented his designs during Boston Fashion Week, Caribbean Fashion Week and at numerous charitable events across the United States.  He is currently living and working in Connecticut and when I ran into him last summer, I realized that we were actually neighbors. We’ve been hanging out a lot lately and as a result, I’ve had the pleasure to meet  so many people here in the small design/art community. I’ve also had VIP access to all of the behind the scenes preparations that he’s made for Saturday’s event. (hence why I am blogging this at 4:38 AM).  All I can say is that the venue, the designs, the models, the entertainment are all fantastic!!!!!

The event will be hosted by Sonia Baghdady, the Emmy award winning television news anchor and reporter of News Channel 8 WTNH and co-publisher of StyleConfessions.com.  The event also features live entertainment from Laree Salmon of Hartford and Troy “Elektrik Kidd” Durden of Boston, and and after party featuring DJ Wasine of 89.3 FM and EnergyRadio.co.

Partial proceeds from his October 27th event will be donated to Gardner’s House, Inc., an independent non-profit advocacy group for low income cancer patients.  Tickets are $40 or $80 for VIP access and can be purchased online at nigelramsay.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Photo Credit: Keith Claytor

 XoXo, Natasha

Hartford Denim Lands Deal With Timberland

Source: Photo by Cloe Poisson, Hartford Courant via Courant.com


I had the chance to peer out across the way into the Hartford Denim’s 4th floor Arbor Street studio recently.  From where I was standing, it looked like a busy outfit (with things hanging from the ceiling and busy bodies moving through out the space), reminiscent of the times when manufacturing ran Connecticut. I noted that one day soon that I needed to visit the fellows to see exactly what they were churning out in their work space and maybe perhaps pen a post for my blog.  But I was overly surprised when I stumbled across this story in the Hartford Courant last week regarding Hartford Denim’s collaboration with Timberland.

According to the Courant, the three co-founders and partners use vintage sewing machines to hand make the denim that is made from 11 oz. indigo dyed cotton duck made in North Carolina.  They also use copper rivets that are hand-cut and peened which line the back pockets.  All that hand made craftmanship comes at a price, however.  Hartford Denim retails for $250 to $360 according to the Courant.  The Timberland pair will set you back $298.  Still, I am happy for these guys, not only because this  is kind of putting Connecticut on the fashion map, but also because of their dedication to reviving manufacturing in this state and also saving “Made In The USA”.

You can read the full story here.

XoXo, Natasha

Breast Cancer Survivor Maggie Gardner Is Noteworthy and Pretty In Pink

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I remembered the first time that I met two-time breast cancer survivor Maggie Gardner. It was at one of the Caribbean Trade Council events here in Connecticut where she had a exhibition table  filled with photos and pamphlets advertising, Gardner’s House, Inc.  Gardner’s House, is an advocacy group that Maggie created and ran out of her private home for the last several years, until recently. When she had her official opening at her new office space located at 1229 Albany Avenue in Hartford last week I attended to support her.

Gardner’s House is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to offering cost-free supportive services to low income cancer patients and their families throughout Greater Hartford. She started the organization after she was diagnosed for a second time with breast cancer.

 “My cancer recurred at a bad time in my life.  I felt as if I’d lost everything.  My husband literally walked out, leaving me to face the challenges of cancer largely alone.  I had lost a dear hospice patient, my home, and my friends,” Gardner said.  “It was a depressing time. The stress took its toll on my body and my mind.” via SusanKomenCT

In short the former nursing assistant was left to face her second bout of cancer, friendless, jobless, nearly homeless and insurance less.  As we talked at her opening, she shared the frustrations that she endured as she tried (while she was undergoing her treatment, mind you) to find resources to cover the cost of her treatment, for respectable and decent (not rat, roach, and drugs infested) affordable housing in the City and resources to cover the cost of medications. She mentioned that at one point she found an organization that provided financial assistance for other terminally ill patients in Connecticut but without avail.  After she joined a support group at St. Francis hospital in Hartford, she realized that her experience was not unique and thus, the idea for Gardner’s House was born. She offers support (sometimes paying the rent for others from funds derived from private donations)  and friendship to other cancer patients whose experience are similar to hers.

For her efforts, she was honored with the 2009 Nancy Pilver Heroine award by Rep. John B. Larson of Connecticut. She also received the 2011 Phoenix Award and received a citation from former City of Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez.

As she continues to build her advocacy group, Maggie is still dealing with the spector of her own experience.  She has undergone 8 reconstructive surgeries for her breasts. To make sure her cancer remains in remission, every 6 months she goes through an MRI (her tumor did not show up in radiology scans) and does a blood count. She also says that every now and then she feels depressed,  a feeling she says is sometime worse than the cancer itself, but credits her advocacy work and the support of her close friends for putting her back on track.

On Saturday October 20, 2012, Maggie will be hosting her Pretty In Pink Fundraiser Ball in Hartford.  For more information, please call (860) 206-7754.  Connecticut based designer Nigel Ramsay will also be donating partial proceeds from his October 27, 2012 runway show and breast cancer awareness benefit to Gardner’s House, Inc.


No word better describes the women who have been touched by breast cancer better than Noteworthy. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Coterie and the esteemed Demeter Fragrance Library created Noteworthy eau de toilette.

Noteworthy is a fruity floral palette with notes that include Frosted Italian Bergamot, White Jasmine, Blue Iris, Creamy White Rose, Cashmere Musk and White Patchoulii. Noteworthy is:
• 95% from natural ingredients and fragrance oils
• Naturally fermented alcohol
• No artificial colors, binders or emulsifiers
• No synthetic fragrance materials or Phthalates

 This fragrance is being sold exclusively on www.coterie.com ($45)  through October 31st or while supplies last. For every purchase, Coterie™ and Demeter™ Fragrance Library will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.