Elizabeth Nye

Girls Inc.- Power of the Purse

Girls Inc. is a national, non-profit organization that helps young and underprivileged girls (ages 8 – 18) build the necessary tools to successfully navigate their way in today’s working world. Originally founded in New England, Girls Inc. has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. First Lady Michelle Obama serves as national honorary chair on their board of directors.

Girls Inc. recently put on their 8th annual fundraiser, Power of the Purse, aimed at creating more independence for women in the community. Last year they managed to raise $250,000. This year FashioNXT has teamed up with Girls Inc. to create an innovative and active partnership that supports these young women, while using fashion as a means to create awareness. Portland designers Michelle Lesniak and Becky Ross are developing a line of purses that will be auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder at FashioNXT 2013. We caught up to Girls Inc. Executive Director Elizabeth Nye, asking a few questions about her organization and partnership with FashioNXT.

Tell me how Power of the Purse utilizes fashion towards its cause.
Power of the Purse is our signature fundraising gala of the year, and next year’s event is scheduled for March 14th. Our vision at Girls Inc. is for the girls we serve to grow to achieve economic independence in adulthood. Power of the Purse was created out of the idea that women in the community would be helping to support programming for girls to achieve this independence, and that proved to be so powerful. We match local celebrities (“Purse-o-nalities”) with local purse designers to create unique, one-of-a-kind purses that are auctioned off during a live fashion show. We also match each Purse-o-nality with one of our Girls Inc. girls. These girls model the purses at the event, and share their hopes and dreams for the future with the audience. Each year we have raised more money than the previous year, and we have set an ambitious goal to raise $270,000 next year to support our programming. It is an amazing event that highlights our girls and our community in a way that truly supports and reinforces our mission.

How did the association between Girls Inc. and FashioNXT come about?
We have been exploring different ways to work with FashioNXT for quite some time. We work with so many designers as a result of Power of the Purse, and are always excited when we can help promote them and their work. As it turns out, a number of our purse designers are also involved with FashioNXT, so there was a lot of crossover between our work and the work that FashioNXT is doing behind the scenes to help designers develop and expand their businesses.

What will you be doing at FashioNXT this year?
We’ll be holding a reception to celebrate the Second Annual International Day of the Girl on Friday, October 11th from 5 to 7:30pm at FashioNXT. The event will feature activity stations “womanned” by Girls Inc. girls, where guests can take part in hands-on activities and learn about the different Girls Inc. curricula.

Guests will also have the opportunity to take part in a “Sponsor a Girl Like Me” fundraising campaign, and pledge their support to help Girls Inc. bring our life-changing program to more girls in the Portland area.

Can you tell us more about the project you’re working on with Becky Ross and Michelle Lesniak?
Becky and Michelle are each teaming up with a pair of high-school-aged Girls Inc. girls to design one-of-a-kind purses to be included in our purse raffle game at the Day of the Girl Celebration at FashioNXT. The participating girls are part of a special Girls Inc. program called “Girls InCharge” that is designed to teach girls about leadership and entrepreneurship. This partnership provides an amazing opportunity for these girls to meet and learn from two female entrepreneurs as they work to make their mark in the fashion industry and build their own businesses.

About The Author: Tamara Alazri