July 23, 2010

A Cause Very Dear to My Heart-Dress for Success

I have been connected to Dress for Success Boston since July 2001 when the organization first opened its doors in Boston. Dress for Success (DFS) is an international organization that provides interview appropriate clothing to women re-entering the job force after overcoming tremendous obstacles in their lives - drug addiction, physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, poverty- and are on their way to self-sufficiency. We are but one small step in the process.

How can you get a job if you don’t even have anything to wear to an interview?

So the volunteers at DFS fit clients with a suit, shoes, hosiery, a handbag, and accessories, and get them ready for that first step-the interview. All clients have been referred by job training or transitional agencies, and they all have interviews lined up.

DFS Boston has dressed 5000 women since 2001, and this year, through the end of June, has dressed close to 600 women.

Clothing and accessories are donated by people like YOU!

For 6 years I volunteered every Thursday at DFS Boston. Without a doubt, that day was the best and most rewarding one of my week, no matter what else was going on. You may think that I was giving our clients strength and courage, but actually it was the other way around.

Women empowering women is an unbreakable chain.

With so many affiliates of Dress for Success in the country, I’m sure there’s one near you. Please contact them to see what needs they may have - tailored costume jewelry, earrings, handbags - leather or otherwise, shoes, hosiery, a stylish suit. Anything that you can reasonably say is in style, wearable and clean, that you no longer need, can be put to use. It’s a safe bet that it will look really nice on a woman as she walks into that corner office. It’ll make your day.

July 10, 2010

The Beautiful Catalan Language

You all know how much I adore learning and speaking foreign languages. Barcelona turned out to be the perfect place to combine my knowledge of Italian, French and Spanish, in order to understand the Catalan language, and to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s a really beautiful language to listen to.

One of the reasons I started Serena Italian Imports was so I’d be able to speak and write Italian every day, as most of my vendors in Italy don’t speak English too well. When I’m buying designer costume jewelry  from Angela Caputi, or Italian handbags from Gianni Chiarini, it’s all done in Italian.

Catalan, the other official language- besides Spanish- of the region of Catalunya, is called an Iberian Romance language by some, and a Gallo-Romance language by others. It is also spoken in the country of Andorra, and in a few other places in Europe, including the city of Alghero, on Sardegna. Fascinating!

It turned out to be remarkably easy for me to understand the written word in Barcelona, but- sometimes a word in Catalan seemed to have no rhyme or reason to it- very common words, the derivation of which was impossible for me to discern. Take the word for “closed”- as in the sign on a door indicating whether a store is open or not.

So- in Italian we have “chiuso”, in Spanish we have “cerrado”, in French we have “ferme’” and in Catalan? “TANCAT”. What is the derivation of this? Are any of my readers familiar with Catalan?

Here are a few photos of Barcelona: 

 A little lunch after much sightseeing:

Pastries at Farga

Casa Batllo' by Gaudi'

Our hotel Casa Fuster

July 3, 2010

A Wonderful Week in Barcelona

We’ve just returned from a terrific week in Barcelona. What a vibrant European city! Barcelona is sophisticated and fun, culturally stimulating, and there’s something for everyone. The city is on the beach, but it’s very cosmopolitan with a real city feel to it. The food is terrific- I’d say it’s good to be a seafood fan although not a necessity- and a pitcher of Sangria can cool anyone off on a June day. My favorite is Sangria made with Cava, light in taste and in color, and very refreshing.

Our sole (no pun intended) means of transport were our poor and tired feet! We walked everywhere, and explored a different part of the city each day. My favorite for shopping is the Born-Ribera district, where there are lots of interesting boutiques. I also enjoyed shopping in the Eixample area, an upscale and sophisticated part of town where there are larger stores, some designer stores that we see in the States, but also some uniquely Spanish and Italian shops.

Just like in Italy, all women wear their pocketbooks across their bodies. It’s a functional, safe and stylish way to carry a bag, and is so very European. Here are some photos of women walking in the city:

You can find bag of this style on our site: http://www.serenaimports.com/
More blog posts and photos to come about all that Barcelona has to offer and about the beautiful Catalan language!