Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Collective-E and 85 Broads Giving Back Event

Yesterday evening I attended Collective-E and 85 Broad's Social Ventures and Celebrating Businesses that Give Back to the World event. It was yet another evening filled with intellect and inspiration! There was a panel with Beth Schoendfeldt of Collective-E as moderator, and the panelists included: Karen Chien, founder of Cheeky Living, Sharon Gaffney, who will soon be launching a new website, Michele Kotler, founding director of Community-Word Project and Susan McPherson, a board member of Bpeace.

Karen shared her story of how her business, Cheeky Living is positively affecting the lives of 160 people in Peru who help to work on her products of hand knit baby alpaca gloves, hats, scarves and throws through the skilled work of the weavers. It was touching to think of that many people having jobs there, who are less fortunate than we are, because of one US business! She could choose to manufacture her products anywhere, but yet, she feels content to know that good is coming out of the fact that Cheeky Living products are manufactured in Peru. Karen also helped to build an orphanage there with a donation from Cheeky Living sales!

Sharon is in the midst of launching a new website that offers consumers the ability to give back to their favorite causes quick and easy online... Stay tuned!

Michele shared how Community-Word Project, which is an organization that helps youth in the Arts in under served communities at NYC public schools, has helped over 10,000 youth to date! Every year they train 40-50 artists, each of who are given $1500.

Susan spoke of Bpeace, which is an organization dedicated to giving pro bono consulting to women entrepreneurs in regions of post conflict. Susan also helps with the marketing for Charity Water, an organization that builds water resources in countries that don't have access. Currently working at PR Newswire, she made a good point, to keep your message clear and concise with whatever organization you are going to give back to and/or start. This will help the cause all together, as people are extremely busy in their day to day lives. The more simple and clear the message is; the better the results you will get.

It was nice to hear of each of these stories, as they were all different, but shed light on all the different ways you and/or your business can give back. No matter whether you choose to give back to a small or large non for profit, the intention and energy you are sending will end with a positive result regardless. Some of the topics covered were about why people give back to the organizations they do and it almost always comes down to giving from a personal experience or something you are passionate about. I liked the quote Susan referred t0: "people protect what they love." This is so true and is how I feel exactly. I would like to give back with Di Manno Designs and will definitely do so, but I don't want to just give back to a cause that doesn't have much meaning to me. So this panel opened my mind up to how and what could be the cause and the way I could give back. And I liked the fact a "give back day" was brought up, which I think is a great way small companies can give back in an easy way, by writing a check to an organization with a percentage of sales from a particular day or time period. We also discussed the cynics out there, customers who question "where is the money going or how can I see my return on investment?" Unfortunately, in life there will always be cynics. What we can do is not let them hinder us from giving back, be honest about our story of why we are giving back, explain where the money is going and feel good that we are doing something good in this world!

Thank you to all the panelists who candidly shared their experiences and stories and thank you for all of your hard work that makes this world a better place!:) And thank you to Collective-E who keeps me on a good path!:)

In the picture above: Me, Sabina Ptacin of Collective-E and Red Branch PR, Katie Danziger of Nomie Baby and Beth Schoendfeldt of Collective-E. (I am wearing a Di Manno Designs Black Croc Wrist Cuff)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Get Healed with Dar Gardol at Chelsea Healing

I met Dar, a close friend and the best acupuncturist I have known, when I lived in Chelsea. One day I wasn't feeling well and his office was next door to where I used to live, went in, got a treatment and ever since have been hooked on it and him! I never knew the many ways acupuncture can heal you, mentally and physically. It is truly amazing and I love learning about all the different points and what they do every time I see him. I loved that not only could Dar make me feel better, but I would learn so much during every treatment. He inspires me so much and has healed me so much! I really don't know where I would be without him. When I thought I was moving this June to San Diego, I started sobbing during a treatment saying, "What am I going to do without you?" and Dar said "Don't worry, I will come to San Diego and treat you there." And that is what I love about Dar, always doing what he can to please everybody, he is so generous. His ora is zen and he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. Whenever I feel I am a bit under the weather, I get a treatment and take Yin Chiao for a couple of days, and so many times that has served as a remedy from getting sick! Love it! Dar and I bonded when one day when he was giving me a treatment. I was thinking of my daily routine in my head, at the time, I worked in an office and I pictured myself putting my hair back wearing a nice suit and/or dress and how much I hated wearing just an elastic band to hold my hair in a ponytail. It was then the concept of Di Manno Designs was born. I came up with the idea of making a leather covered ponytail holder with an elastic band attached.
I shared it with Dar and he was so inspired, we started to brainstorm together. We met a few times to go over concepts and ideas for the brand. He came up with Di Manno Designs and I liked it. At the time I was focusing on a name more specifically for ponytail holders, but I liked the fact that I wouldn't be limited to just ponytail holders under the name Di Manno Designs for future lines and I also liked the alliteration. Ever since we have been friends. I love being around his energy, because every time I am around him I feel so inspired and that is such a great feeling. It is so special to be treated by someone who is not only brilliant in his field, but such a kind spirit that is so pleasant to be around. I also go to Dar when I am feeling any physical pain, either in my back or once when I pulled a hamstring by jumping up and landing down in the splits when I was out dancing at night! lol The treatments he gave me sped up the recovery time! When my mom was in town, he treated her a few times, as her back and knees bother her and she swears by him! It was great, she was able to walk around NYC more at ease because the treatments helped her a great deal, so of course we were all happy.:) Since then she has seen an acupuncturist in South Carolina, where my parents live, and said he is nowhere near as good as Dar! Dar said when he is out that way, he will stop by and give her a treatment. She can't wait!
So needless to say, I highly recommend Dar for whatever ailment you may have or just to maintain good health, I'm sure he will make you feel better than you did before you walked in. Thank you Dar for teaching me, inspiring me, supporting me and Di Manno Designs and healing me. Love you!:)
Chelsea Healing is located on 24th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues (212) 645-6447.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tori with Toriola, a Very Dear Friend and Entrepreneur

I am ecstatic to say that one of my best friends, Tori just launched his own line, Toriola (In the picture above, Tori is sewing the skirt I wore in the picture below.) In the other picture are 2 of his pieces he designed and made, on the right, I am wearing a Toriola wrap skirt, which can also be worn as a dress. I paired it with a white button down, but can also wear it with a black halter or tank top, the designer and stylist Tori is in the middle and Vanessa on the left is wearing a Toriola wrap dress.

Born in the USA, but raised in Nigeria, Tori came back to the USA to attend college in Maryland. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in International Business with a minor in Economics. While he was in college, he started working at American Eagle as a sales associate before he was promoted to Visual Specialist. An opportunity presented itself for him to open American Eagle's first urban store in NYC, he took it and has been in NYC ever since. He worked at American Eagle for about 10 years leaving with the title Regional Visual Manager for the New York Metro Area.

After American Eagle, Tori worked as the Senior Visual Merchandising Manager/Visual Director of Victoria Secret, where he was in charge of flagship development and branding. He also hosted all the successful events with the Victoria Secret super models that were televised.

While working, Tori began styling photo shoots on the side for fun and simply because it comes natural to him. For years he has been creatively dressing displays, why not transition to dressing models for photo shoots, especially when they were asking him to do so?! So he did, he does and he enjoys it so much he wanted to brand himself as an entrepreneur who can freelance as a stylist, visual merchant and designer of Toriola fashion, which brings him back to his roots, adding a flare to Nigerian fashion.

He styled the shoot we did for Di Manno Designs fashion accessories. He picked out every one's outfits and accessories for the shoot. The group shot Tori styled is on the contact page of

A man of many talents, he also does beautiful memory books. (pictures above of a book he did for a friend's wedding) I already signed him up to do mine when I get married!:) I went to an event he was hosting at Victoria Secret and saw a concept book he had made for them, which was out on a table for customers to look at. It was so unique and creative with magazine cut outs, fabrics, trinkets and more to show different themes and trends. It was truly one of a kind, I was blown away and then started seeing dollar signs of him selling these books for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays etc! lol My mind was spinning with all these different ideas of him making these special books for people and starting his own business! If you would like your own custom memory book made by Tori, reach out to him at:

On a personal level, I met Tori through our mutual friend Vanessa (in the picture above with Tori and I and also in the picture above in a Toriola top made by Tori). I instantly adored his bubbly, loving, charismatic, fun, genuine character and his edgy sense of style. Getting to know him over the years, I can now say that I also respect what he stands for and his morals, his strength of character, his perspective on life and his zest for life. He has been a true inspiration in my life in every sense of the word, as a person, through his work, spiritually and as my friend. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life.

I am so happy he started his own company! I saw his potential long ago and wished he would branch off on his own with all of his talent and personality. I can't say this about too many people, but with Tori, I knew he could handle the challenge, had the talent and most importantly is a good honest person, who is loved by many, who I know will succeed. So hats off to you Toriola Famuyiwa, it is your time to shine as an entrepreneur, just like you have as my best friend. Love you:)

To see his work, go to: