by Kalen Ruiz | Feature Contributor
This week at the store, we held a Trunk Show for an organization called WORN. WORN is a business of Catholic Charities of Fort Worth whose mission is to provide refugee women living in the US a supplemental source of income. They sell scarves and other accessories that are hand-knit by these refugee women and then sold online and in boutiques across the country.
Deciding on which philanthropic causes you want to support, as opposed to feel obligated to support, can be challenging. If you are like me, you get phone calls or solicitation letters weekly asking for donations of products or gift certificates for everything from schools to arts organizations to social causes. NEWSFLASH!!! I CANNOT GIVE TO ALL OF YOU! Whew, there, I said it. I know hustling donations is a tough job; I would not want to do it. And trust me, I hate to say “no”. So, I have learned to be intentional about the causes I give to and have given myself some rules to go by so I feel better about saying “no”.
- It has to be personal. My kids, my spouse and their activities get my support, as well as philanthropies that I feel strongly about their mission.
- Pay it forward. If I solicited a donation for an auction from someone, I will return the favor.
- Only one donation a month. Even with personal causes and pay it forward donations, they can still add up to way too many requests to fill. I’ve found that by explaining my policy to friends who make requests they understand that I just can’t give to everyone who asks.
- What will the PR get me? I know, how dare I think of how donations will benefit my business? But in all seriousness, you have to. Think about the audience that will see your donation on the auction table and if those are the people in your target market, then probably makes sense to be generous.
Of course, whether or not you choose to donate or give is completely up to you. Donations of this type are just one way to show philanthropic support for causes. I’ve been a judge for a crazy hat contest, emceed a charity fashion show, decorated a table centerpiece for an awards luncheon, loaned out garments for fashion shows; none of which cost me anything but my time. If you are just getting started with your business, don’t rush in to things and feel like you have to participate or donate right away. It’s ok to say “no” until you have a better idea of what causes you want to support. And if you’ve been doing this for a while, maybe now is the time to reevaluate your strategy and decide where you want to give your support going forward.
Kalen Ruiz – Vintage Treasure Hunter, Bess & Evie’s Vintage – Fort Worth, Texas
Kalen Ruiz is a native Texan who discovered the exciting world of vintage clothing during her days as a Fashion Merchandising Major at Texas Christian University. Flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, and the antique/junk/vintage shop across the street from campus became part of her regular rotation of destinations on the never-ending hunt for vintage treasures. Her trips back home to El Paso would inevitably consist of digging through closets at her parents’ and grandparents’ homes to see what might be found there. Cowboy boots of every color and skin from her dad’s days at the Tony Lama Boot Factory were sadly not in her size, but the array of western belts were quickly snatched up and taken back to Fort Worth. Her grandma Evie’s closets produced a sea of tulle and taffeta that were her aunt’s prom dresses from the 1960s and a collection of coats that sadly Grandma was not ready to part with yet. Grandma Bess, being Scottish had countless handkerchiefs and wool tartans made in to dresses and skirts to add to the treasury. After a career in buying, merchandising, E-commerce and operations with a national home furnishings retailer, Kalen pursued her dream and opened Bess & Evie’s Vintage, a vintage clothing boutique in Fort Worth, Texas in May 2010. Her favorite part of the job is still the thrill of the hunt, but also loves helping people find their own treasures in her boutique.