In 2007, just one year after Marlborough students established what is now known as the Violets’ Giving Circle (VGC), the members of the Circle put on the group’s first fashion show to raise money to grant to Los Angeles-based organizations. The event has expanded considerably since then, Violets’ Giving Circle advisor Nadia Hopper said.
The preparation for the fashion show begins ten months before the event–often toward the end of the previous school year. Because of the intense planning required, the members of VGC decided in 2011 to host the fashion show every other year, giving them more time to focus on the granting of the money.
In the year following the fashion show, the members of VGC meet to discuss granting and which organizations they feel represent the Circle’s mission statement that the members are, “committed to providing energy and resources to improve the lives of underprivileged women and girls in the Los Angeles area by furthering their educational opportunities.”
Hopper mentioned that while the mission statement is pretty restrictive, the girls don’t have trouble finding organizations which improve the lives of women and girls; they have granted over $165,000 to small organizations dedicated to supporting underserved women in Los Angeles, all of which they have raised via fundraising. The girls visit the organizations and then request a proposal from them, which includes financial statements and a description of the program they would put the money towards. Last year, the Circle decided to grant money to MOSTE, Girls & Gangs, CAST LA, and WriteGirl, even though the group wished they could choose more organizations to grant to.
“Granting years are hard because there were a lot of worthy organizations, so it was difficult to narrow it down to just four, since they were all so deserving,” VGC Co-Chair Izzy Ahn ’15 said.
There are three primary ways the Circle raises money at the fashion show: ticket sales, silent and live auctions. Most of the money comes in via ticket sales, as each ticket costs anywhere from $40-$115 and usually around 400 people attend each year. However, members of the Circle work extremely hard to collect as many donations as possible to include in auctionable baskets or to be auctioned off on their own. Since the Circle wants to raise as much money as possible while minimizing overall cost, members of VGC work diligently to connect with local business who are willing to donate centerpieces, flowers, or sound equipment. They also reach out to managers to see if celebrities are willing to judge the fashion show pro-bono.
“It’s quite amazing what they do. You get that confidence to go knock on doors asking for donations, asking for money, calling publicists. So I think [VGC members] get a lot of confidence and leadership from this process,” Hopper said.
Unfortunately, The Ebell, the event space that has welcomed the fashion show for many years, doesn’t allow outside food to be brought in, so a lot of the ticket sale funds are spent on Ebell’s in-house catering, along with renting the venue and the runway, Hopper said.
The fashion show is always a huge hit among members of the school community, since it welcomes designs from students of all ages and encourages girls to step out of their comfort zones and onto the runway.
Maya Klapper ’16 who has modeled in two past shows said at first she was nervous about walking down the runway because of the tall heels, but she had a lot of support from the other models backstage.
“It was super fun. I felt really cool and in charge,” Klapper said.
The Circle is excited for the Parisian-themed spring/summer fashion show this year which will take place on Sunday, Mar. 1 from 4:00 to 7:00 at The Ebell with celebrity guests Adrienne Bailon, Ethan Peck, and Lawrence Zarian and musical guest Josiah Hawley.