Women In Philanthropy’s 9th Annual Power of the Purse

By: Staci Rutherford

Last year I was invited to join the planning committee of “Power of the Purse,” a fun event with fabulous bags, fantastic women and fundraising for a wonderful cause.  “Power of the Purse” is in its 9th year that includes a silent and live auction of purses to benefit local women and children charities.  It is the signature fundraiser of Women In Philanthropy, a diverse group of professional women dedicated to investing in helping disadvantaged women and children in the Midlands.

I was excited to help with “Power of the Purse,” and made it my mission to find unique, handmade, and designer bags for the auctions.  Since I spend a majority of my time researching and networking with handbag designers and companies, I decided to contact them, along with anyone else I could think of, to donate a bag.  The experience was far more rewarding than I anticipated.  Everyone who attended enjoyed an evening of guilt free shopping, a martini luge and mingling with other dynamic women.  In the end, every handbag sold!  Check out a few pictures from last year’s “Power of the Purse” below:

Women In Philanthropy’s goal is to make this year’s “Power of the Purse” bigger and better than the last. Wink Magazine is the official digital media sponsor, and has offered me the opportunity to feature the “best of the best” bags in a future issue.  Proceeds from “Power of the Purse” are invested in Women in Philanthropy’s grants that benefit women and children in the Midlands.  In addition to community philanthropy, Women in Philanthropy stimulates positive change in community leadership by increasing women’s involvement in the community, increasing women’s community networks and increasing the personal development of all women involved.

“Power of the Purse” is expected to sell out, so visit www.womeninphilantropy.com to register in advance.  If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or donating to the gift bags (there will be 250 women attending), there are opportunities to do both!  Grab your girlfriends and come out to shop while supporting a fantastic cause!

Help Feed the World with Feed Bags

By: Staci Rutherford

When I’m not researching the latest “it” bags, trends and designers, I enjoy finding handbags that are designed for a good cause.  I discovered FEED Projects a few years ago, and constantly feature new FEED bags on my blog.  Today, I want to introduce you to FEED, because these meaningful products have a tremendous impact on different parts of the world.

FEED Projects’ mission is to create good products that help FEED the world.  The merchandise mix includes eco-friendly FEED bags, t-shirts, and other accessories, with a set donation factored into the cost of each item.  FEED believes that everyone has the right to basic human necessities, such as healthy and nutritious food.  Every product has a stenciled number that signifies the actual impact of your purchase.  Here are a few of my favorite bags available at feedprojects.com.

FEED 5

Front

Back

The FEED 5 Africa Bag was designed in honor of FEED’s 5th anniversary.  It is handmade by artisans in Kenya.  The outside of the bag is made from burlap material, along with the “FEED the Children of the World” logo from the first-ever FEED bag, the FEED 1 Bag.  The bag is lined with traditional African kitenge fabric.  Each FEED 5 Africa bag provides 5 children with micro-nutrient powder for 1 year through the FEED Foundation’s Nutrients Fund.

FEED USA

The FEED USA Bag includes a $5 donation to the FEED Foundation’s FEED USA program to improve school food and nutrition education in America through DonorsChoose.org.  After purchasing your FEED USA Bag, use the 8-digit code provided on the hang tag and visit the FEED USA platform to choose the initiative you want to fund.  The bucket shape bag is made of 100% organic cotton.

FEED LOVE

Front

Back

The FEED LOVE Bag was designed in partnership with (RED).  The purchase of the (FEED) RED LOVE 30 Bag will provide approximately 30 days of ARV treatment through the Global Fund and 30 nutritious school meals through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), thus providing one month of life-saving assistance.  Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment not only helps people live with HIV/AIDS, but also helps prevent the transmission of the disease from moms to their babies (RED)-supported Global Fund grants deliver this treatment to some of the countries hit hardest by the disease.  The (FEED) RED LOVE bag is made of natural burlap with signature PRODUCT (RED) logo, faux suede bottom and large back pocket.

FEED HAITI

In January 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.  The FEED Haiti bag was created to help raise funds to maintain local school feeding operations during that critical time. Today, FEED continues to support Haiti’s school feeding operations as the country slowly rebuilds and faces challenges in nutrition, health, and education.  Each FEED Haiti Bag will provide 50 meals through the UN World Food Programme (WFP).  The tote is made of 100% organic cotton and uses the red and blue Haitian national colors.

As you can see, FEED bags are making a difference in helping feed the world.  The next time you are looking for a gift for a loved one, consider showing your support in the fight against hunger, and invest in a FEED bag.

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone – Part 2

By: Staci Rutherford

“Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” – Orison Swett Marden

I am beginning part two with a meaningful quote that sums up how I have been feeling since before stepping out of my comfort zone.  I spent the month of February on an emotional roller coaster.  At times, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, however, my excitement and happiness outweighed those feelings and I came out on top.

The HandbagReport.com showroom officially opened its doors to the public on Thursday, March 1, 2012, which was also First Thursday at Tapp’s Art Center.  First Thursday is a big event that takes place every month at Tapp’s, where the work of different artists, photographers, and sculptors are featured.  It’s a fun, laid back atmosphere that is perfect for networking and connecting with kindred spirits.  I met some fantastic people and received positive feedback on the space that I worked so hard to make just right.

As I explained throughout the evening, the HandbagReport.com showroom is extension of the blog.  It’s a place to personally connect with my readers and customers, and to bring the blog from virtuality to reality.  I chose accessories from a local designer to feature in the showroom, Nana by Sally.  The collection is one-of-a-kind handmade clutches and handbags made from vintage, vintage-inspired and designer fabrics.  I also interviewed the designer of Nana by Sally, Sally Peek, which is currently posted on the blog.

The next few weeks will be spent continuing to decorate the space, and preparing for the official grand opening.  I look forward to sharing the showroom with my friends, family, and all of the women in town who love handbags.  I believe with all of my heart that I am doing what I am meant to do, which is an exciting and scary adventure!

Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone – Part 1

By:  Staci Rutherford

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

I found this quote months ago and it made me stop and think about where I am in my life, and where I want to be.  I have many goals that I want to accomplish, but often struggle with determining what to do first.  My time management and procrastination issues often leave me wondering how I will get it all done.  I follow a group of bloggers who are my source of motivation, because they are living a life doing what they love.  I have already established my love of handbags, and nothing would make me happier than turning my passion into a profitable business and life-long career.  Since my last post, I finally made the first move.

Before I share my exciting news, I must acknowledge two dynamic women who have come into my life believing in my vision, and challenging me to take the next step – Roshanda Pratt and Alicia Zeigler.  After several conversations about my short term and long term plans, both Roshanda and Alicia have offered advice and resources that have given me the confidence to market what I have to offer beyond my handbag blog.  Roshanda, a fellow Every Woman Blogger, is also a media consultant with R.E.P. Communications Network.  She took the time to help me focus on developing my ideas into something tangible.  While donating a handbag to a pre-Columbia Style Week event, I met Alicia, the founder of FFS Model & Talent Agency, Columbia Fashion Alliance, Columbia Style Week and the new editor of Wink Magazine, Columbia’s premiere fashion magazine.  We immediately clicked, and she too gave great advice that has been instrumental in my stepping out of my comfort zone.

After a few days contemplating whether it was the right time, I decided to follow my heart and rent a studio space at the Tapp’s Art Center located downtown on Main Street. “Studio 26” is the new home the HandbagReport.com office and showroom!  It will be an extension of my blog – a place to connect with others who love handbags.  I plan on having monthly purse parties, designer trunk shows, themed events and more.  I am excited to share this journey with you as my life is just beginning!

Handbag Tips: How to Clean and Store Your Handbags

By:  Staci Rutherford

To Help Keep Your Handbags Clean, I’m Giving Away a Mia Cotone Dust Cover!

It should come as no surprise that I am writing another article about handbags.  While it’s fun to share my favorite picks of the season, this post is about cleaning and storing your bags.  It amazes me how many women spend hundreds of dollars on their handbags and don’t put forth any effort in taking care of them. Regardless of the amount of money spent on a bag, it’s good to know how to care for your bag properly to ensure that it has a long life and to keep them looking like new.

Tips on Cleaning Your Handbag

1.  Empty all the pockets of your handbag, and shake gently to remove dust, gum/candy wrappers, receipts and loose change.
2. Clean interior of bag by gently putting it inside out and using a lint roller.  If you can’t pull out the lining of your handbag, use the fabric brush attachment on your vacuum.
3.  Use alcohol free baby wipes to clean leather or leather-like bags.
4.  Keep your makeup in a separate cosmetic bag to prevent unexpected stains.

Tips on Storing Handbags

1.  Fill handbags loosely with tissue paper to help keep the original shape.
2. Keep your handbag in a dust cover.  If your bag didn’t come with a drawstring pouch, then consider purchasing a few that coordinate with your prized possessions or the bags you wear most often.
3. Most of us don’t have customized closets with a designated space for our bags. As an alternative, store them in baskets or bins made of plastic-coated wire. Stand bags upright or lay them down with a little space in between.  Your bags need to breathe, so avoid plastic bends with a tight-fitting lid.

If you are looking for a stylish storage solution for your handbags, I highly recommend Mia Cotone handbag dust covers.  They are thoughtfully designed to keep your handbags clean and organized.  By storing bags individually, it keeps leather soft and supple and prevents drying and fading.  There are 28 colors to choose from and they are available in several styles and sizes.  I hope my tips will save your bags from being thrown on the floor in your closet.

To show my appreciation to all of the readers of the Every Woman Blog, I am giving away one Mia Cotone zebra print Mia Clutch dust cover!  All you have to do is “like” Mia Cotone on Facebook and comment on this post with the following “I want a Mia Cotone dust cover!”  One lucky winner will be randomly selected on February 20th.

Mark Your Calendars: Columbia Style Week Coming in June

By: Staci Rutherford

For the first time ever, Columbia, South Carolina will have an official fashion week!

Mayor Steve Benjamin and the Columbia City Council issued an Official Proclamation declaring June 5th-9th, 2012 Columbia Style Week.  This is a major event for the Capital City that will include five days and five nights of fashion, arts and entertainment.  As a style-obsessed blogger, I am beyond excited that we will have an outlet to showcase talented fashion designers, models and local retailers.  I will feature a calendar of runway shows for Columbia Style Week so we can help make it a huge success.

The “Follow Your Heart” Charity Fashion Gala and Auction is the official kick off event for Columbia Style Week’s “Road to Runway Tour.”  It will be held at Tapp’s Center for the Arts (located downtown at 1644 Main Street) on Saturday, January 28, 2012 from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm.  Partnering with the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, the gala will be hosted by Arielle Riposta-McConchie and Alicia Zeigler of Wink Magazine.  Dr. Norma Khoury, of the South Carolina Heart Center, is the keynote speaker on heart disease and its impact on women.  The event will also include a silent auction, refreshments and wine, live entertainment and DJ, a Red Dress fashion showcase and more!

A portion of all ticket sales and 100% of silent auction proceeds will go to the American Heart Association.  Click here to purchase a ticket.

If you are interested in becoming involved with Columbia Style Week, they are looking for volunteers!  Visit the www.columbiastyleweek.com for more details.

Style Tips for a Better You in 2012

By: Staci Rutherford

As I reflect on the past year and begin preparing for 2012, naturally, I want to improve myself – both inside and out.  I am ending 2011 with a short list of resolutions that I hope will be relatively easy to achieve – save more, spend less, exercise more, procrastinate less, eat healthier, etc.  Sound familiar?  It’s also the perfect time for a makeover, so I came up with a few style tips to share.

1.  Find Your Signature Look
To find your signature look, you must first identify your personal style.  Refer to your style icons (mine are Rachel Zoe, Nicole Richie and Zoe Saldana), images from fashion magazines, and blogs that inspire you (my daily reads include What’s Haute, Wendy’s Lookbook, Karla’s Closet and The Glamourai).  Start a wish list of clothing and accessories that catch your eye when browsing the Internet or shopping around town.  There is also a popular website called Pinterest, which lets you organize and share images you find on the web.  You can browse “pinboards” created by other people to get inspiration from others who share your style and interests.

Nicole Richie

Zoe Saldana

 2. Reorganize Your Closet
I previously shared tips on cleaning out your closet.  Get rid everything in your closet that doesn’t fit your style.  Anything worn only every once in a while should also be cut.  The goal is to build a wardrobe of flattering pieces that reflects your style.  Invest in non-slip skinny hangers in your favorite color.  I bought a few sets of hangers in my favorite shade of pink and it has totally changed how my closet looks.  Check out the picture below.  My clothes look much neater and it actually saves space.  I also coordinated all of my clothes by color, which makes it easier to see what I have and to determine what’s missing.

3. Make Sure Your Clothes Fit
One of the most important elements to having fabulous style is fit and proportion.  Always try to play up your best features whether you have sexy cleavage, great legs, or sculpted arms, use clothes to highlight what you love most about yourself.  Be sure to try clothes on (sometimes a size larger or a size smaller) before buying them because you can never tell how great something looks on a hanger.  Keep in mind that you can have clothes tailored to fit your body type.  It’s totally worth the extra money.

4. Incorporate Color
Everyone can wear color – you just have to find the right hues that complement your skin tone.  Have fun trying on new styles and silhouettes.  My signature look is mixing vibrant colors and prints, and layering accessories.  Once you color coordinate your closet, creating new outfits will be easy and fun.

5. Change Your Hairstyle
If you have been wearing the same style for more than three years, it’s time to change it up!  The right haircut and style can drastically improve your appearance.  It will instantly boost your self confidence.  If your hair stylist is partially to blame for your style rut, don’t be afraid to try someone new.  I recently switched stylist and am pleasantly surprised at how many people have complimented me in the last few weeks.

Ladies, 2012 is almost here, and it’s time we look and feel our absolute best!

Accessorizing with Scarves + Fabulous Finds Under $30.00

By:  Staci Rutherford

Now that the brisk fall weather is here, I have finally pulled out and organized all my scarves, and am having so much fun coordinating and layering them with other accessories to stay warm and stylish.  I love scarves because, like handbags, you don’t have to try them on to determine whether they fit.  If you are looking for another easy way to update your wardrobe, shopping for a few scarves is a must!

Accessorizing with scarves will add visual interest to any outfit with little effort.  I rely on scarves to keep my work and weekend wardrobe fresh.  In this economy, I am all about looking good for less.  I also enjoy experimenting with some of the new trends each season, so I pick up scarves year round depending on what catches my eye.  Keep in mind that the scarves you choose should be a reflection of your personality.

There are so many options when it comes to scarves – plaid, ikat, animal prints, stripe, the list goes on and on.  My scarf collection consists of all my favorite colors, and the colors I tend to wear most often.  If I happen to come across a unique style like ruffles, fringe or sequin, it’s almost impossible for me to resist buying it!  Owning scarves of varying colors, materials and lengths add variety to your wardrobe.

Check out some of my fabulous finds under $30.00:

Cozy Colorblock Scarf, $29.95 at Gap.com

Lightweight Polka Dot Scarf, $14.94 at OldNavy.com

Southwest-Print Woven Scarf, $9.50 at CharlotteRusse.com

The Electromagnetic Scarf, $19.99 at ModCloth.com

AEO Ikat Loop Scarf, $19.50 at ae.com

Heritage 1981 plaid scarf, $5.90 at Forever21.com

Update Your Fall Wardrobe with a New Bag

By: Staci Rutherford

Now that fall is here, it’s time to update our wardrobe.  The easiest way to revamp your wardrobe without breaking the bank is to invest in new accessories.  Accessories are the key to transforming those items in your closet that start to become drab over time.  Accessories include jewelry, hosiery, scarves, hats, handbags, and shoes.  They will instantly bring an outfit to life.

Before you begin shopping for new accessories, take an hour (or two) to assess what is already in your closet.  If there is anything that you have not worn within the last year, get rid of it!  There is no point in holding on to clothes and accessories that are not being put to good use.  Organize your unwanted items into three piles – one for the church/Salvation Army/Goodwill; another for friends and family; and a pile of your almost new/designer items that you don’t want to give away.  I’m using the term “designer” loosely.  Clothes don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars to be considered valuable.  That pile will go to a consignment store.  Consigning is a great way to earn extra money for clothes that you no longer wear.  I recommend Roundabout Consignments.

Once you sort through your fall wardrobe to determine what to keep, take note of the color palette, what may be missing, and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.  Now, let the shopping begin!  My top two favorite accessories are scarves and handbags, of course.  Since I am constantly scouring the Internet for great deals, I have compiled a list of fabulous fall handbags that are under $150.00.  I have chosen a few evenings bags, everyday bags, and casual bags that are both stylish, functional and versatile.

Market Sequin Clutch, $44.00 at whitehouseblackmarket.com

Jeweled Crossbody Bag, $98.00 at bananarepublic.com

Deux Lux Sequin Tote, $39.50 at ae.com

R&J Handbags by Romeo & Juliet Couture Luggage Satchel, $63.00 at lastcall.com

Steve Madden Yale Convertible Satchel, $118.00 at zappos.com

Striped Messenger, $32.80 at forever21.com

Ivanka Trump Grace Satchel, $125.00 at dillards.com

R&Em Zippy Bowler, $88.00 at macys.com

If you have any questions about how to accessorize or want to share a new handbag you purchased recently to update your fall wardrobe, email me anytime!