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Monday, September 22, 2014

Tour Donor: rue21

A happy girl with an adorable new top from rue21
rue21 contacted me after seeing a segment about Threads for Teens on the TODAY show. They were really excited about Threads for Teens, and actively looking for a way to get involved. Well, I am so glad that they reached out because everything they send is always taken so quickly. At the store even before the tour, the girls loved all of the items.

For the tour, everything we had of theirs was taken! I reached out to Deanna, one of my contacts there to ask her some questions about rue21 and how they see their mission fitting with Threads for Teens' mission.

1) Why did rue21 decide to become involved with Threads for Teens on Tour? 
We love the mission of Threads for Teens and want all teens to have access to fashion that’s modern, trendy and affordable. It’s all about boosting confidence and a positive feeling in themselves and others, and that’s what we’re about, too!

2) What is rue21's mission, and how do you see that aligning with Threads for Teens?
We offer the latest trends while staying affordable, so our customers don’t have to sacrifice style for savings. Our brand is set to give teens the best trends out there for less, and that includes those who are less fortunate. We want everyone to feel good about themselves, and style says a lot when you’re a teen. We want everyone to have the opportunity to express themselves!

3) How do you see clothing affecting confidence?
It doesn’t have to take a whole outfit to look good – simply adding a statement necklace or new pair of shoes can make you feel good and improve your mood, boosting your confidence. To us, “21” embodies an age that’s fun and everyone wants to be. It’s a feeling and spirit of one of the best times in our lives. We want teens to put on our clothes and have that good feeling.

4) Is there anything else you would like to mention?
To us, confidence is your best accessory!

XOXO
Allyson

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tour Donor: Claire's

Claire's Volunteers in Chicago, IL
This summer, we had the extreme privilege of working with Claire's Accessories. They not only donated tons of amazing product, but at over half of our stops, they sent out managers and district managers to volunteer. The volunteers were always so amazing and helpful. They have an eye for how to arrange the clothes and most especially the accessories. Furthermore, they also know how to style the girls. At our stop in Chicago we also had the pleasure of being able to hold our event in the Claire's HQ parking lot.

Taylor Foster, Allyson Ahlstrom, Maryann Porter




I would like to thank Maryann Porter who contacted me last year to set this up! She has been a true rockstar in getting volunteers to our events, along with product donations. Read below for our interview with Maryann on why she was so passionate about working with Threads for Teens.

1) Why did Claire's decide to become involved with Threads for Teens on Tour?
I was deeply affected by the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary.  I live near it but it also affected so many of the beautiful kids that we serve.  I wanted to do something and came up with the idea of doing a day dedicated to them.  I asked my Connecticut team to volunteer.  After hearing about what we were doing,
I had employees from all over my territory volunteering.  Team members from up to five hours away drove in on a Sunday morning to volunteer for the event.  We had more volunteers than we had girls at the event!  I knew then what I always believed that in order to engage your customer, you must engage your employee.  And more importantly, Claire's employees rock!  So, I googled "volunteering teen charities" and your organization came up.  I did research and loved it.  I felt it encompassed everything I was looking for in terms of who we serve as well as our people could really enjoy making a difference.

2) What is Claire's mission, and how do you see that aligning with Threads for Teens?
Claire's mission is to make all girls and women smile, helping them express their individuality by offering innovative and fashionable, fun and affordable jewelry, beauty and accessories.  The word smile is important in our mission.  For a small price, we put a smile on a girl or woman's face. We can change their day.  We can change how they feel about themselves.  I always tell the people that work for me don't take that lightly.

3) How do you see fashion affecting confidence?
I think this is huge.  I know from my own experience, it changes your attitude when you walk out the door in a great outfit.  I do believe we become what we wear.  At Claire's, we talk a lot about "Dress to Impress".  I think this is so important.

4) Is there anything else you would like to mention?
I really appreciate being able to be a part of Threads for Teens.  It has been a great experience for my teams.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tour 2014 Wrap-Up

The tour this past summer was truly such an amazing success. Without the help of many however, it would not have been possible! I would like to take this moment to share some final tour statistics.

9,300 Miles Driven
27 States Visited
13 Clothing Events
1000 Girls Given Free, Brand-New Clothing
42 Service Agencies Worked With

37 Claire’s Volunteers

Thank you so much to everyone who participated and followed our journey this year!

XOXO
Allyson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School Event

Ashton Smith organizing all the backpacks donated from Marmot.
In the beginning of August, Threads for Teens began the month long journey of collecting and donating backpacks and school supplies to our previous shoppers at our storefront location in Santa Rosa, California.

On August 7th, Disney star, Coco Jones, joined at us at the Threads for Teens boutique for a day event of meet and greets to collect school supplies for our girls! About 35 families came out to the boutique to meet Coco with arms full of supplies and backpacks. All the donors who supported us this day had an amazing experience, meeting Coco Jones and receiving a free Chipotle lunch! All genders and ages came to the event, which was a change for Threads for Teens, since our work is usually focused specifically in teen girls. By the end of the day we had collected a few backpacks and TONS of supplies. Luckily, Marmot donated 50 brand new backpacks, along with supplies, to Threads for Teens in addition the items collected on August 7th. After both collections, I filled the store with all of the backpacks, and our front desk with various school supplies from paper, to highlighters, to water bottles.
Each backpack (above) represents the options the shoppers could choose from. Each backpack was filled with supplies, a lunchbox, and additional supplies from the table (above) were chosen personally by the girls. 
After receiving all of the supply donations, I contacted all of the programs around and in Sonoma County in order to set up the day where our previous shoppers got to pick out their backpack and supplies. That day around 40 girls came into the boutique and chose one backpacks filled with supplies, and a few extra supplies additionally. Each one of the girls were so appreciative and excited to start the school year on the right foot with their new supplies. My favorite part of this day was connecting the girls again. The bonds made while shopping with them are never lost, so seeing each one of them again was heartwarming and fun. 

xoxo Ashton Smith

Sunday, August 10, 2014

8/2: Boston STRONG

Claire's Volunteers
In 2013 we wrapped our tour in Boston, and this year we did the same as well. The Revere Hotel was kind enough to host our event for a second year in row! Thank you to Brian and everyone else who made this possible. Getting to Boston was slightly a challenge because Parkways in Long Island do not allow trucks with trailer to drive on them. Our GPS kept wanting us to take parkways so we spent at least an hour trying to figure out how to get off the island. Finally we did, however this put us back on time a bit. Thankfully, we made it in around 7pm and I was able to meet my two best friends from college for dinner. Our rooms at the Revere were extremely nice. We were in suites that had two bathrooms each! The view was also incredible. I cannot express my gratitude enough to the Revere.

We woke up the next morning and were excited to find that we could park our trailer in this indoor area. My mom was especially happy because she hates the heat more than anything. Because we had good conditions again, I was able to pull more items to replenish the clothes since 89 girls came to our previous stop in Long Island. The girls lined up and were all so anxious to get in. Three homeless girls came at the very end and were extremely grateful because their clothes were to dirty and threadbare. They all wore their new items as they left.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of my fabulous Claire’s volunteers from the day. Two of the girls from last year came out. We didn’t have nearly as many girls at our stop last year, so they were excited for the change of pace and having 50 girls to help. The stop was nonstop! When it was over, I felt extremely weird, as did my mom. It felt like only yesterday we were in LA and kicking it all off. However, both of us were proud of what everyone across the United States had helped us to accomplish. After we packed up, my mom and I headed down to Newbury Street to do some shopping. However, the only shopping we accomplished was buying cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes. I got vanilla and my mom got coconut! YUM!

Please stay tuned for a final wrap-up post that will include commentary from myself (Allyson), my mom (Amy), and Grandpa Gus.


XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom






Wednesday, August 6, 2014

8/1: Long Island


After Philadelphia, we had a nice day off, which was nice because we hadn’t had one off for a week. We ended up sleeping in Philadelphia one more night, then drove into Long Island the next day. We dropped the trailer off in Long Island, then stayed the night in Manhattan at the London Hotel. The London Hotel is so fabulous because it is right in Midtown and so luxurious. Management greeted us with some really nice chocolates!

The next day, we woke up bright and early to take the train out of the city and into Long Island. We parked at a community center, which was a convenient location for the girls. Once again, our fabulous volunteers from Claire’s came to help out. We realized that we had a ton of extra accessories left over, and with just one stop to go we wanted to try and give them out! So we set up an extra table of accessories. We were also running low on some sizes of clothes. In Philly, as mentioned in the previous blog post, it was raining so I was unable to go through boxes. Thankfully, the weather was decent so I was able to replenish the stock, while the volunteers took over styling the girls.

This stop was by far our most busy stop! We beat our record from Arizona, giving 89 girls a brand-new outfit! Which is absolutely insane and awesome. More importantly, all of the girls were really appreciative and happy with the items they took. Several commented that it really did feel like an actual shopping experience. That’s exactly what we go for, because it’s not just about clothes, but it’s also about the opportunity to be treated with dignity.

XOXO

Allyson

Sunday, August 3, 2014

7/29: Philadelphia


Philadelphia, PA, my home! I go to University of Pennsylvania, so I was definitely looking forward to coming to Philly. I also plan on opening a boutique there in the fall, so putting out a sneak peak was beneficial. We arrived late Friday night and actually stayed at my apartment overnight. I never moved out from my first summer session, which was a bit relaxing and comforting to sleep in my own bed. We woke up the next morning and headed over to our location for the event, at 34th and Chestnut. That is right on my campus, so I invited a ton of Philly/Penn friends to come and see what I always tell them about, in person.

As we walked the six blocks from my apartment to the parking lot, rain began to drizzle. This turned into a full on downpour as we set up the boutique. Thankfully, as always several volunteers from Claire’s were on board to help us figure out the situation. We quickly transported all the boxes into the truck and also filled up one fitting room. My friend Amanda from my sorority, ZTA, also came out to volunteer for the day. After we finished setting up, thankfully, the rain began to subside. Girls began trickling in. We were concerned that girls would not come because of the rain, however we had a pretty good turnout.

Several of my friends (David, Natalie, and Tiff), came out to check it out. I was really excited to show them around because I constantly talk about it at school. My friend David even commented that it was so awesome to see it in person and see it as being something real and tangible! The girls that day really had a great time. An organization called the Evoluer House sent many girls, and I even got an email later that day from one girl who wants to help me open a boutique in Philly!

All in all, it was a great day and I can’t wait to officially bring TFT to Philadelphia.

Next Up: Long Island!


XOXO

Allyson Ahlstrom