On Saturday, April 16, six empowering women came together to bring uptown New York to downtown Bay City, Michigan for a night of fashion, beauty and celebration – all for a great cause!

The first ever High Hopes in Heels fashion show took place at the Old City Hall restaurant in downtown Bay City, MI. This event raised more than $2,200 to go to the Great Lakes Bay Region YWCA’s Getting Ahead program.

I represented Self Love Beauty at the event and partnered with other women from several local businesses including  W 4 DivasFerne Boutique, Tosha Cole Photography, LC Make-Up Artistry, and A Spencer Gellise Salon to sponsor the event and create a fun event in our community to showcase the beauty of women of all ages!

Tickets for the event sold out within 30 hours and the fashion show featured women ages 18-60 to showcase the many forms of beauty. As a sponsor of this event, I came to appreciate even more the journey each woman takes through their lives and I learned many things.

My Team 

We are mothers, wives, employers, friends, relatives and sometimes our worst enemies. We forget to treat ourselves. We forget that sometimes our own beauty can come first.IMG_0028

I had the opportunity to be part of this group and bring this wonderful idea to life. Myself and 5 other women worked since the fall of 2015 to come up with the theme, the process and the promotion. I did not know any of tIMG_0015hem at first and, as many of you know, sometimes it can be hard to bring yourself into a new group. However, overtime you learn everyone can be so welcoming.

I teamed up with some of the most amazing women around. Throughout the planning process, they taught me to follow my dreams, never give up, to match my passion with my work and to treat others with the utmost respect. They continue to be my role models and it is so uplifting to see how much our collaboration helped us achieve our ultimate goal of empowering other women, making them feel beautiful and raising money for the YWCA.

The Event

Beginning Saturday morning, our team started setting up and getting the models ready. I watched as our models came in and got their hair and make up done13054638_10100483913207922_88624050_o for the event.

I watched as everyone got to know each other and continue to smile throughout the day as they were done up by our teams. I watched as the sun shown all day and each of us continued to laugh at the events that didn’t go right and then watch the moments where as a team we worked together to make the correct changes.

Then I had the opportunity to watch as the models get their new ou13054520_10100483913222892_1864522144_otfits on and saw women of all ages start to come to the venue to watch the show- all dressed up, smiling with their friends. As the event started, our DJ Emily Cross rocked the stage with amazing upbeat music as myself and Deb MC’ed this event. The fashion show started, and our models walked down the runway, each with their own individual pose in outfits they picked out to s howcase their own beauty. The audience enjoyed the show and were in full support of our cause to help the YWCA.

After two rounds of models, we took a short break to listen to representatives from the YWCA speak about their Getting Ahead program and their mission, as well as the opportunity for the sponsors to present the check.  Getting Ahead is an economic empowerment program for women and young famili13054723_10100483913192952_1736862851_oes and offers long-term solutions for economic self-sufficiency. As the interim director of the YWCA spoke, there may not have been a dry eye in the room. We learned what women are facing on a daily basis in our local community, how these women are just like us and just want a better life for themselves and their families, and how the YWCA is an avenue for many women to better themselves. As she finished, my heart filled with joy, as I realized just how much of an impact we were making that night

As the night ended, we had one more last round of models showcase cute evening wear options before we brought all the models back on stage together. The party didn’t stop there. Everyone continued to have a good time and meet new people throughout the empowering evening. For many of us that stuck around, it became a huge dance party of throwback music from our teen years.

How We Created Change

Society is always trying to define beauty for us and puts women against other women to show the hierarchy of the today’s beauty standards. We all have our moments of self-doubt, try put up with bully’s that bring us down or face a lack of confidence. But just knowing that you are 13016685_10100483913148042_287817608_onot the only one to go through these tough times can be uplifting.

It was truly inspiring to kick that all out of the window at the fashion show, define our own beauty and come together to support each other. It is through events like this that we can truly make a difference.

Our team created change. Our models created change. The media that wrote about the show created change. All the women and men that came out to the fashion show created change. We came together for one purpose to help the YWCA but it became more than that. It was about building lasting relationships and friendships, getting out of the house for an evening of laughter with friends, celebrating beauty and empowering each other. No one knew the struggles of the person sitting next to them. No one cared who had more money than the next person or who did what. All what mattered was that we were all there to support one another and support a great cause.

The Aftermath

I don’t think after an event anything is ever done. Our feedback has been so amazing and the sponsors and I couldn’t be mIMG_3715ore excited to have another one. From one event, I have learned how many women want to get involved, more about our similar struggles and the same self-doubt we have sometimes. I have learned that one event can change a life, one smile can change a day and one moment of encouraging another woman can help them succeed at their dreams.

We may not have been able to change society in a day, but we did indeed start a change in Bay City, Michigan.

To see more about the event look up the hashtag #HighHopesInHeels on our social media sites, check out Mlive.com or MyBayCity.com.