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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Threads for Teens, Pastry, and Coco Jones!

Coco Jones and Threads for Teens Founder Allyson Ahlstrom
I am excited to announce that this year Threads for Teens and Pastry are teaming up for their 1-U campaign to raise girls' confidence. This partnership was announced this past weekend at the SLS Beverly Hills at singer/actress Coco Jones' Sweet 16! To start off the campaign, Coco asked all of her guests to bring a clothing donation for Threads for Teens rather than gifts for her. This extremely generous requested garnered a ton of awesome clothing for Threads for Teens. Make sure to keep checking out what is going on this year for the campaign, as we have a lot in store! Also, Threads for Teens will be going on tour this summer, so make sure to stay tuned for more details!

XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dove Self-Esteem Weekend/TODAY Show

Hey Everyone! Long time no update! Threads for Teens has been going absolutely amazing. A couple of weeks ago, a three minute segment on Threads for Teens aired. I was really excited to finally see this air, because we started filming it in July in New York. Then, in the middle of August, several producers came to finish filming the segment in California at the boutique. I would like to give a big thank you to Paige, who was kind of enough to tell her story and how Threads for Teens personally affected her. Thanks Paige! Here is clip in case you missed it.



Then last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the kick-off event of the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, where Jess Weiner, Dove Global Self-Esteem Ambassador, led a workshop on confidence to preteen and teenaged girls. I was fortunate enough to be able to have a conversation on stage with Jess about self-esteem and the connection to Threads for Teens. I actually first met Jess several years ago at a young women's conference where she led a similar workshop, so it was really incredible to see her once again after several years to update her on how Threads for Teens has grown. Make sure to check out her WEBSITE, as there are many great tools for building self-esteem. Also, I had the fortunate pleasure of meeting Kid Chef Eliana, who curated the menu. The food was amazing and I really wish I had her cooking skills!

Lots of exciting events in the work!
Stay tuned!
XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Boston, MA ---> The end of the tour!

I truly never thought that this day would come, the last day. This is because I started planning the tour an entire year in advance and from July 2012 I was doing something almost every single day in preparation. Once again, I was truly stunned by the amount of people who came together to make this tour possible. Never in my wildest daydreams did the tour go as successfully as it did. Now, for a little information on our last stop, where we learned to be BOSTON STRONG!
Boston, MA
Allyson & Claire's Employees
I was rather excited for our Boston stop for a couple of reasons. First of all, the two stops the day before had gone awesome and I was definitely coming off of an energy high. Secondly, Boston is one of my most favorite cities. It is so full of history, and has so much beautiful architecture. Lastly, this would be our last stop of the tour and I wanted to go out with a bang! There to great us, not as early as our past two days, were four awesome Claire's volunteers, ready to go. They even brought us Boston Creme cupcakes from Crumbs Bakery and Boston Baked Beans! Yummy! The girls who came to the program were all so sweet and excited to receive their new clothing.

The girl who did the Catwalk strut around the boutique!
We set everything up, and waited for the girls to come. There was one girl specifically who had an amazing time, and even did several catwalk struts up and down the mobile boutique to show off her new clothes. When she left, she was beaming with gratitude and excitement from her shopping experience. After, it was a bit surreal to pack up the boutique for the last time. Almost immediately, I was feeling withdrawals. We definitely have enough clothes, so I am hoping to do a stop in Santa Rosa with the mobile boutique, and then possibly even San Francisco. Stay tuned!

XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Portland, ME + Manchester, NH

Portland, ME
A girl shopping in Portland, ME
On Thursday, August 1st, once again we woke up bright and early to hold our second day of doing double appointments. Our first set of appointments occurred in Portland, ME at the Maine Mall! We went over to the truck around 7:45 to start setting up, and were pleasantly surprised by the temperature. It was breezy and cool, a stark contrast to what we had been getting used to over the past two months. Once again, we were greeted by five awesome Claire's employees. They immediately began to take over hanging and arranging accessories. I always love seeing how each group adds their own personal touch to setting up the jewelry! They also brought two super cute gift baskets, each themed with a state: Maine and New Hampshire. Over twenty girls came to shop at the mobile boutique, including one girl who was driven from over 155 miles away! This stop was in fact our easternmost stop of the trip, which was definitely cool. On this day, we held appointments from 8am-10am, so before we knew it, it was time to pack up and make the 2 hour drive to Manchester, NH.

Claire's Volunteers in Portland, ME with Allyson
Cute gifts from Claire's employees, representative of Maine & New Hampshire
Manchester, NH
Happy girls with their new clothes!
Allyson + Claire's Volunteers
In Manchester, I was super excited because my friend, Lauren Sundstrom, who I met this past May at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards came out to volunteer with her friend, Becca, and mom, Lisa. All three of them were super helpful. Lisa was our resident photographer for the day, which was awesome since we generally don't have that much time to take pictures, and also manned the fitting rooms to make sure girls were getting clipped in and out. Lauren and Becca acted as personal stylists to the girls, along with all of the Claire's employees. Because of this, I (Allyson) was able to climb up into our inventory and bring down a bunch of new stuff for the girls to choose from. At our stop in Manchester, ten lucky ladies came out to shop and had an absolute blast! Everyone was so helpful in getting the boutique set up and taken down. A special shoutout to all of the ladies who came to volunteer from Claire's! The girls especially were so grateful for the experience. In the guestbook for our Manchester stop, here are some direct quotes, "Thank you so much for all you have done. This is great," and "Thank you so much, what you're doing is incredible!"

Becca, Allyson, Lauren in Manchester, NH
Now back to Lauren, because I have to tell all of you readers about the amazing service work that she does! She started an organization called Clothes for Hope, which raises money through the sale of clothing, to support schoolchildren in Ghana. Here is an excellent explanation of her organization, courtesy of Prudential:
"Lauren, a senior at Newburyport High School, conducted a clothing drive and sale that raised $30,000 to provide uniforms, desks, books, computers and other badly-needed resources for two schools in Ghana, West Africa. Lauren spent two weeks volunteering at the two schools in 2011, and “returned to America with an awareness of poverty that few of my peers had,” she said. “I learned that children in Ghana could only go to school if they were able to purchase a uniform, costing merely $9, which proves to be an unrealistic expense for most village families.” Even those who can afford uniforms sit in “classrooms that often lack desks, books or even educators,” said Lauren.
Then one day, as she was organizing her closet and culling clothes she’d outgrown, Lauren suddenly hit upon an idea: she could collect other people’s surplus clothing in her community and resell it to raise money for students in Ghana. She began sharing her idea with school groups, Girl Scout troops, local businesses and organizations, and over the course of five months, more than 200 volunteers, business owners and community leaders helped Lauren collect more than 7,000 pieces of new and gently used clothing, shoes and accessories. She sold most of them at her “Shop for a Cause” sale that rang up over $23,000 in eight hours. The unsold clothing was donated to local families in need, and additional donations and events after the sale brought Lauren’s total to $30,000. Four months later, she returned to Ghana to deliver her proceeds, which provided more than 180 school uniforms; desks for over 100 students; four new computers; hundreds of books, toys and supplies; and the funds to build a middle school, library and teacher’s conference room."
Now, in just four days, Lauren is going back to Ghana with her mom for nine days to distribute all of the donations to young school children in Ghana! She is absolutely incredible and I was so happy for her to come out to the boutique. In fact, Lauren generously donated several pairs of brand-new jeans, left over from our last clothing sale to Threads for Teens. And even after we packed up in Manchester, Lauren and her family invited us to hang out with them in Newburyport (their hometown), for a couple of hours. We had such a great time, and are now all in love with Newburyport, MA. Everyone make sure to check them out on Facebook, so they will be documenting their entire trip to Africa! We would like to extend a huge thank you to the entire Sundstrom family for being so extremely hospitable to us. THANK YOU!

Up Next: Boston, MA!

XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bridgeport, CT + Woonsocket, RI

Last Wednesday, July 31st, we had quite the busy day planned for us! Two stops in one day. This would be a first for our team, so we woke up early Wednesday morning, unsure of what to expect. Read more to hear about our appointment packed day of shopping in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Bridgeport, CT
Making funny faces with the Claire's employees and Auntie Kitty
We had an early start time for shopping in Connecticut, 8am! Normally we don't start until 10am, so this was quite the change. We were unsure of how many girls might come just because it was such an early start time, however we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of girls who were there right at start time. Also there to greet us were six lovely employees from Claire's who were happy and eager to help set-up and outfit the girls. The also brought us the most adorable basket with items that they thought would be useful for touring, including hand sanitizer, Advil, snacks, and a magazine. We were super grateful for everything, and used almost all of it! For two hours, tons of girls tried on clothes to take their perfect three items and one accessory. As Auntie Kitty noted, it is so interesting to see the individual style that is reflected in each girls choices of clothing and accessory. Personalities are truly able to shine through with the self-expression that the clothes afford the girls. We were a bit sad to leave Bridgeport, as we had such an awesome time, but were excited to move onto our next stop in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

So many girls walked over at once!
Originally, we had thought that we would go to Providence to hold our event in Rhode Island. However, we were put in touch with a fantastic agency in Woonsocket that said they had a lot of girls, but couldn't make the trek to Providence. Hearing this, we made the decision to go to them and what a great decision it was! So many girls were able to come out and shop. We always love when their is an extremely high energy because it really makes for a good shopping experience. It was also nice because before all of the girls came on the truck, I was able to give them a brief history of Threads for Teens, and hopefully inspire them to start their own projects. These shopping experiences went in a what seemed to be a fast time frame, but really because it was so much fun we didn't realize three hours had passed! When it was over we packed up and headed to Maine! One of the furthest points away we would be going...

Keep checking back for more updates!
XOXO
Allyson Ahlstrom

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

THE BIG APPLE AKA NEW YORK CITY!!!

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!

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