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Wednesday, July 31, 2013


We had a fabulous four days in New York!!!

Brooklyn, NY
Allyson, Kitty, Amy, Anika
Now, anyone who has been to Manhattan knows how INSANELY crowded the city can be! Going into the tour, I was unsure of where we would hold our shopping appointments. Thankfully, my aunt lives in Brooklyn, so I enlisted her help. After some thought, she had the idea to park the Threads for Teens mobile boutique in front of the tattoo shop she manages, East River Tattoo, in Greenpoint. This was most definitely easier said than done, because of all of the permitting that we had to go through to secure street parking! However, my Auntie Kitty is an absolute saint and was able to get all the applications together from both the NYCDOT and Mayor's Office. Thank you to Auntie Kitty! But besides arranging our location, Auntie Kitty also organized a fundraiser at the tattoo shop. Several of the artists--Rob Banks, Rachel Haur, Raf Delalande, Guy LeTattooer-- donated their time and skill to participate in a flash sale to raise money for Threads for Teens. This went awesome, and the artists raised over $1,000 to donate to Threads for Teens! Thank you so much to East River Tattoo, especially Kitty Joe Sainte-Marie, who arranged everything, and Duke Riley, who owns the shop.

Onto the girls! The girls who came to our shopping event in Brooklyn were absolutely incredible. Many were referred through a program called the Lower Eastside Girls Club. All of the girls who came were super sweet and grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, many had felt and are still feeling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Our visit made all the difference for the girls who had lost many belongings and were not in a position to be able to get new clothing anytime soon. One mother said that Threads for Teens was an answer to her prayers. The girls from the Girls Club were also tremendous in the fact that almost all of them were willing to be interviewed by the Today Show, who came to film for a segment that will air sometime in the future. I promise to keep all of you posted about this super exciting development! Also, another group from Good Shepherd Services also visited the boutique. Those girls were all extreme fashionistas and were impressed with the great selection of items on the truck.

Taylor, Allyson, Maryann
Once again, Claire's sent out employees to volunteer. It is always nice having extra hands around to help organize and set-up the boutique, and most importantly to be personal stylists to all of the girls when we have large groups. Now at this stop, Maryann Porter, Vice President Northeast U.S. & Canada East at Claire's Accessories, who arranged for us to have Claire's volunteers at each stop of the third leg of our tour, came out to visit. I was extremely excited to meet her, as Maryann has been instrumental in obtaining locations, hotels, and volunteers on this third leg. A big shoutout and thank you to Maryann!!!

After all of the appointments were over, we were able to have some downtime in the city on Saturday and Sunday, before resuming work appointments on Monday and Tuesday. Taylor had to leave the tour on Sunday, which was a bummer as she is always a great help and go-getter. The Threads for Teens Windsor location is extremely lucky to have her, and she will undoubtably bring a fresh new insight to the boutique.

While in New York, we were able to see Matilda on Broadway, which I highly recommend. We actually didn't have tickets, so we waited for the lottery. I didn't have high hopes, as they only give away twenty tickets and most people put down that they want a pair. At the lottery for the matinee show on Sunday, there were probably 200 people! To my astonishment, they drew my name second! I won two tickets for great seats that were only $27 each! Then, so my mom could see it she bought herself a full priced ticket. My mom, sister, and I absolutely loved the show, especially given that we are all huge Roald Dahl fans and fans of the movie.

On Tuesday, we met with donors from ANN Inc. which was awesome! I personally know several of the women who work there, so it was great to see all of them and meet new people! The offices are so fun and everyone who works there is so stylish and fabulous.
Now, I am almost caught up to our most recent adventures in Bridgeport and Woonsocket! Keep checking back!

Newark, NJ

Sorry for the delay in posts, but we have had a couple of crazy exciting days on the tour!

Newark, NJ
To start off, last Friday, the 26th, we kicked off our day in Elizabeth, NJ at the The Jersey Garden Mall. The mall management was kind enough to let us park the mobile boutique in their MASSIVE parking lot. We stayed the night before at the Courtyard by Marriott, just down the street. Thank you so much to Claire's employees and the hotel for donating our stay! The hotel was wonderful and in a great location. Immediately, when all of us arrived at the mobile boutique in the morning, we were greeted by seven eager volunteers from local Claire's stores. They always arrange all the accessories so perfectly!

After we got the boutique all set-up, we were ready to go with the shopping appointments. There were several girls waiting so they were super excited to come in and choose their three items. After that, we had a bit of a break until the end when a couple vans full of girls came. We always love when we have big crowds of girls coming to the boutique because it definitely adds to the energy of the shopping appointments. We would like to extend a special thank you to all of the Claire's employees who came to help work the boutique and inspire girls at our stop in New Jersey. Also, I (Allyson) would personally like to thank Natalie Ramirez for being such an amazing volunteer. She was with us for most of the first leg, and then for the first week and a half of the third. Natalie is always so eager to work with girls, making sure that they receive the individual attention that they deserve during each and every shopping appointment! She has most definitely been missed, also because she was our resident blogger!

Stay tuned as I get this blog updated!
Next up, New York!!!!
Allyson Ahlstrom

Dover, DE and Philadelphia, PA

Dover, Delaware
Wednesday, July 24th

Delaware! Had a relaxing stay at Main Stay Suites, Dover thanks to Main Stay Suites and Claire's Accessories. When we arrived at the truck the next morning we were greeted by cheerful volunteers from Claire's and Icing. The volunteers happily helped us prepare the boutique for shoppers and eagerly jumped in and ran appointments. The Claire's and Icing volunteers loved interacting with the girls and providing fashion advice. Our shoppers once again received 1 on 1 VIP attention during their appointments. Towards the end of the day, NPR visited the boutique and interviewed Allyson. All in all a pleasant stop in Dover.

Link to NPR Interview

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
Thursday, July 25th

What an exciting stop in Philadelphia! The truck and trailer was parked in the Xfinity Live parking lot, in the center of all of the major league Phillies sports' complexes. Truly an awesome location! Much thanks to Xfinity Live for an amazing location. Once again, Claire's and Icing sent out volunteers that were more than excited to be helping. The Claire's and Icing volunteers once again ran appointments and provided knowledgeable fashion insight. We had numerous girls visit the boutique from organizations like, Youth Service Inc. The girls and staff members were very impressed by the variety and quality of clothing and the helpful volunteers. Among the most popular items today, our newly unpacked Steve Madden sandals and Claire's and Icing accessories. Following the shopping appointments, Xfinity Live provided our shoppers and volunteers with packaged lunches! Towards the end of our day, we had Urban Outfitters executives visit the mobile boutique. Urban Outfitters' headquarters is in Philadelphia, so we were more than excited that they took the time out of their busy schedules to visit the boutique! The Urban Outfitters executives were thrilled with the mobile boutique, looked forward to continuing their relationship with Threads for Teens and offered more product donations. Truly wonderful! A great stop in Philly!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, Maryland
Tuesday, July 23rd 

Wow! We had the most amazing, relaxing night at the beautiful Hotel Monaco, Baltimore. This morning we were greeted by another group of volunteers from Icing and Claire's. They were eager to help, which was greatly appreciated. Once again we had numerous girls visiting the boutique, most of which arrived prompt and ready to shop. The girls were referred from The Children's Home and Social Services. We had so many shoppers and volunteers that our shoppers had to wait their turn outside of the boutique, but the girls were so sweet and patient that they didn't even mind! They waited patiently, chatted with Natalie, and enjoyed provided snacks. Once inside, shoppers were again given 1 on 1 VIP attention. They had numerous ladies eager to provide fashion advice, reassuring compliments, help with finding sizes and styles, and fitting room assistance. Once again, among the popular items for the day- the Claire's accessories. All in all a great day! A special thank you to our wonderful volunteers from Icing and Claire's and the Hotel Monaco, Baltimore. 
Allyson with Joe, Hotel Monaco's General Manager. 

Icing and Claire's volunteers' gift to Allyson.

Allyson and Joe, General Manger of Hotel Monaco.

Nadine (shopper), Mafran (Nadine's grandma), Trish, Jennifer, and Audrey (Icing and Claire's volunteers). 

Stay tuned for more updates about tomorrow's stop in Delaware!

Washington DC

Washington DC
Tuesday, July 22nd

After a restful night's sleep at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, we woke and went downstairs to set up the mobile boutique. We were greeted by two members of Ford's grassroots marketing team. Following their arrival, the local Fox affiliate sent out their reporter, Wisdom and a camera man to film a live segment for the morning show. We were very grateful that Ford's grassroots marketing team was able to put us in connection with the Fox news station.

Wisdom, Allyson, Taylor and Natalie.

Link to clip of Fox News Segment

The segment was successful and so widely watched that we had people visiting the boutique just to get a closer look because they had seen us on TV. Two viewers in particular, Jania and her grandmother, Gwen, saw us and "just had to stop by" to say hi and learn more about what we're doing. Jania was awestruck and inspired by the segment and was truly ecstatic to visit the boutique and meet Allyson, Natalie and Taylor. So sweet! We're always happy to have visitors.

Jania, Allyson, Gwen, and Taylor. 

Following the taping of the morning show segment, Icing and Claire's employees and managers arrived at the boutique ready to volunteer- 6 boxes of donations in hand. The boxes held Claire's accessories including- hats, scarves, jewelry, bags, sunglasses, etc. Not only did their donations replenish our accessories, it provided the boutique with items we previously did not have. We were so excited to receive the donations and we knew the girls would love it all!

Taylor, Natalie and Allyson posing with all of our wonderful Icing and Claire's volunteers.

At around 10 am the girls began arriving for their shopping appointments. Our shoppers were referred by Courtney's House, Family Matters, and CASA. The trailer was booming with the hustle and bustle of numerous shoppers and volunteers. Luckily, we were so heavily staffed that each girl was truly able to receive 1 on 1 VIP attention during her shopping appointment. Our shoppers definitely enjoyed the newly unpacked Claire's accessories. Through the course of the day about 20 girls received clothing and accessories items. All in all it was a great, busy day!! We love doing what we do.
The hustle and bustle of shopping appointments in the boutique.

Following the shopping appointments, we spent the afternoon sightseeing in our spacious, air conditioned C-Max Hybrid. Thanks again Ford!

Capital Building!

Taylor, Natalie, Allyson and Anika at Marine Barracks.

Taylor, Natalie, Allyson, and Anika at Georgetown Cupcakes.

Our delicious Georgetown cupcakes.

9/11 memorial at the Newseum.

The White House!

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

Piece of the Berlin Wall at the Newseum.

Iwo Jima Memorial.

Iwo Jima Memorial.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. 

Off to Baltimore, Maryland!! Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Sunday, July 21st 

A pleasant day in Virginia Beach! We began our day with a morning stroll to the beach. 

Following our morning stroll, we set up the mobile boutique and awaited the arrival of our shoppers. Our shoppers were referred by their organization Seton House. The shoppers were in utter shock when Allyson explained that they could select any three items they wanted. One shopper in particular was gasping when she learned that all of the clothing was brand new and she could select whatever she desired. It was truly heartwarming to see the girls' excitement. The girls eagerly tried on multiple outfits and happily strut their stuff through the mobile boutique. One shopper in particular loved her new dress so much that she chose to wear it out. 

Our shopper who opted to wear her new dress out.
(Another shopper is sitting enjoying our AC unit). 

Now off to WASHINGTON DC!!! Stay tuned to hear about our fun filled stop there. 

Charleston, WV

Charleston, West Virginia
Saturday, July 20th

We had a great day in Charleston, West Virginia! The truck was parked at University of Charleston's football stadium parking lot. Through the course of the day, 17 girls from the Children's Home Society of West Virginia visited the mobile boutique. The girls were accompanied by mothers, staff and Andrea, WE CAN Coordinator. Andrea was just as enthusiastic as the girls were about the shopping experience in the mobile boutique! In fact the girls were so eager that they arrived early and offered to help setup! We were flattered by the offer but politely declined because this was their day to be treated, not work. The girls visited the boutique in groups of four, which was great because the truck was booming with positive, high energy. Our shoppers were pleased by the selection of clothing and accessories, some so much that they opted to wear their new outfits out! It was a pleasant day, even despite the humidity and HEAT! Once again the girls made it a worthwhile day.
Two of our shoppers who opted to wear their new outfits out!

Charleston, the capital of West Virginia. 

Taylor, Allyson, Andrea, and Natalie.

Off to Virginia Beach, Virginia stay tuned for updates about tomorrow's stop.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Columbus, OH

Columbus, Ohio
Friday, July 19th

The Third Leg has begun!

We arrived in Columbus, Ohio late last night and had a great night sleep at the Crown Plaza. We woke, excited and ready to begin the Third Leg. Allyson, Natalie, and Taylor were greeted in the lobby by a group of volunteers from Soroptimist International of Columbus and Franklin County: Kristi, Megan (Kristi's daughter), Paula, Vicky, and Helen. The group was a big help in setting up the mobile boutique, prepping for, and running appointments. The women greeted the shoppers, parents, and Kinship staff, with warm smiles and cold water- which was much appreciated!

Megan, Allyson, Kristi, Natalie, Taylor, Paula, Vicky, and Helen. 

A reporter and a photographer from The Columbus Dispatch visited the boutique to interview Allyson, shoppers, parents, and Kinship staff, and to gather information for the story they plan to run tomorrow. Both young men were a pleasure to have and we look forward to reading the article.

Today was Taylor's first day of the tour, but you couldn't tell because she effortlessly adjusted to running appointments. Through the course of the day, 21 girls visited the mobile boutique. The girls were ecstatic and eager to shop! Allyson, Natalie, and Taylor encouraged the girls to try on as much clothing as they wanted, though it was stifling hot in the trailer. One of our shoppers in particular was adamant about not trying on clothing due to the heat, but after some encouragement, she tried on a two blouses and a dresses and loved them so much she wound up taking them all. Another shopper, was tentative about trying on Black Halo dresses, but after Natalie convinced her that they would be perfect for her Senior Homecoming and Prom, she did. Much to her surprise, both dresses fit as though they were made for her! She chose to take both dresses and left with a grin ear to ear. All in all a great day in Columbus, Ohio!

Taylor, Natalie, Diana (shopper), and Allyson. 

Thank you to Soroptimist International of Columbus and Franklin County:

And thank you to The Columbus Dispatch:
(Watch for our story in tomorrow's paper)

Now off to Charleston, West Virginia! But first.. A super shopping spree at Torrid!

Before we left Ohio, we stopped at Torrid to restock our plus size section. The staff at Torrid was superb, one sales associate in particular, Marie, was just as passionate about girl empowerment and self esteem, so she made sure to help us in any way we could. Which we greatly appreciated, considering our receipt was over 20 feet long! But don't worry, we snagged some great deals.

Allyson, Natalie, our helpful sales associate, and Taylor posing with the 20 foot long receipt.

Now off to Charleston, West Virginia. Check back for an update about tomorrow's appointments.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Meet Taylor!

Meet Taylor Foster! She is currently a rising senior at Cardinal Newman High School, and will be 
running the Windsor Threads for Teens boutique this coming fall. Taylor loves fashion and currently co-edits a fashion blog ( She is extremely excited to be working with Threads for Teens and plans to implement several new girl empowerment workshops into the organization. We are excited to have you a part of the Threads for Teens family Taylor!

Check out this interview with to learn more about Taylor.

What are you hobbies?
In my spare time, I enjoy working on my website dedicated to photography and fashion (, spending time with friends, and volunteering at Threads for Teens.

How did you learn about Threads for Teens?
I became involved with Threads for Teens through knowing Allyson and volunteering at the boutique.

Why did you choose to take such an involved role with the organization?
I have chosen to take over Threads for Teens for my CBSL (Community Based Service Learning) Project because I love being able to assist in the building of self-esteem in the young women of Sonoma County. It is such a great feeling to know that I am a part of something that goes beyond simply giving new clothes to teen girls.  

What would you like to bring to the organization?
I am hoping to add a social component to the organization. I am looking forward to possibly hosting activities for girls to meet new friends and share in the empowerment of young women in our society.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Des Moines, IA + Wrap-Up of the Second Leg

Our entire journey so far! We have driven a lot of miles!
This blog post is a couple days past overdue, however, here it is nevertheless! We drove into Des Moines on July 2nd, after our Minneapolis stop. All of us really enjoyed seeing the beauty of the landscape of Iowa. The farm lands coupled with the beautiful lakes and ponds, really made our drive more memorable than most, in regards to scenery. Our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn West Des Moines, was brand-new, and extremely comfortable. Katie, Kelsey, and myself enjoyed the hot tub that night, after a long days work in Minneapolis.

Kelsey, Katie, and Allyson. Thank you Katie and Kelsey
for being amazing volunteers! 
The next day, we were eager to set-up shop in Des Moines, as we were all well-rested and excited to be finishing up our second leg. The weather was nice for the day as well, not too hot in the slightest. That day we were greeted with extremely enthusiastic girls who were all excited to be shopping in the mobile boutique. After appointments, we had some time to kill before our flight that evening. We went into downtown Des Moines and walked around, going in and out of some very cute shops.

Overall, the second leg of the tour was a blast and my mom and I will sure be missing Katie and Kelsey on the road for the third leg. Both put much time and energy into all of the work that needed to be completed. Thank you so much for joining us Katie and Kelsey!

Until next time!
Allyson Ahlstrom

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tuesday, July 2nd

This morning we packed up the trailer for our second to last day of appointments on the second leg.  We were thankful to have a day of moderate weather, and it reminded it much of the weather back home.  While we are all excited to go back home and finally have some home-cooked meals, we are sad that we only have one more day of interacting with the girls.  Allyson and Amy will get a two week break at home, and then head back on out to start the third leg.  But for Kelsey and Katie, their Threads for Teens on Tour experience has almost come to an end.  It was these thoughts that made us even excited to get the most out of the day of shopping with the girls.

Two of the girls came to the trailer with their dad, who was helping them find their items.  We really enjoyed seeing a dad interact with his daughters in this way.  When we were talking to him, he mentioned that he had four other daughters at home, so he was used to shopping with them.  Everyone knows that a dad who can proudly say he shops with his daughters is a great dad, so keep it up!

We were sad to pack up the trailer when all the shopping was done because we knew that we had one day more until the end of the second leg.  We are now excited for what Des Moines, Iowa, brings for us tomorrow!

P.S. We got to visit Mall of America, which was so incredibly huge! We had a great time checking out the different shops, and even got a chance to ride a roller coaster that is in the middle of the mall!

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI
We arrived late last night to Wisconsin and were greeted by the friendly staff of Hampton Inn & Suites who gave us a beautiful gift basket and thoughtful note along with our complimentary room.  The next day was a busy one with girls shopping nonstop. We were happy to see so many different girls able to participate in the program.  Today many of the girls were full of joy and eager to talk with us about their personal style of clothing.

Allyson as she helps pick out a formal dress for one shopper.

Allyson being interview for the news.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chicago, IL

Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, June 30th

Our arrival to the windy city, Chicago, was very fun.  Even though we were stuck in traffic, we were entertained by seeing hundreds of people decked out in Hawaiian and cowboy costumes tailgating before going to the Jimmy Buffet concert.  We eventually got through the traffic and arrived at the Lincoln Hotel.  The hotel was a great location for the threads for teens trailer: downtown near the park, across from the lake.  Due to this great location, we got many visitors asking about Threads For Teens throughout the day.  We also had a gorgeous view of the lake from our room.

The trailer parked in a perfect spot in Chicago!
Right after we finished setting up the trailer, an rush of girls arrived.  We quickly went to work helping the girls find their items. Many of the girls loved the jewelry that Claire's donated at our Detroit stop, and asked us for help matching jewelry to the clothes they already chose.  While Katie was checking a girl out, she commented that the girl had chosen two of Katie's favorite clothing items.  Later, Katie was delighted to read that in the guest book, the girl wrote "You have great clothing and me and one of the girls have the same style :) Thank you! Great Experience." It's great to know that we are also connecting with the girls through similarities, and on a personal level.  We are so thankful to all of the girls who have come through Threads For Teens, and it is amazing to read their comments that say how thankful they are.  One girl wrote, "Great job on helping teens all over the world, you guys are the best. Thanks." 

After our awesome day interacting with the many teen girls, we packed up the trailer for going to Wisconsin!  On our way out, we made sure to stop by the Cloud Gate, a.k.a., the Chicago Bean, in Millennium Park.

Allyson, Katie, and Kelsey posing at The Bean. What an awesome pose!

The Cloud Gate