My favorite example of Cause Marketing is something that I get to work on year after year, something that’s very near and dear to my heart. The Ultra Chic Boutique is an incredible event that our local dry-cleaning client, Max I. Walker, has been putting on for the past nine years. Lisa Walker Sekundiak, Vice President/Owner of Max I. Walker, wanted a new way of giving back to the community, something that aligned with the design of their business. Focus groups with high school students helped Lisa nail down specifics about her idea (focus, name, time of year, cost, beneficiary), and The Ultra Chic Boutique was born.
Dependent on the giving spirit of the Omaha community, Max I. Walker collects new and used formal dresses (prom, wedding, gowns, little black dresses, vintage, etc.) from the public, cleans and mends them and puts them up for a one-day sale. The amount of donated dresses that are new with tags is astounding. Wedding dresses worth thousands, BCBG dresses with $300 tags, you name it. Each dress is sold for just $30 each at the event, regardless of original cost.
The best part? All proceeds go to the Open Door Mission’s Lydia House to support women and children in need.
“My family doesn’t know I’m at the Lydia House and I want to keep it that way. I needed a nice dress for my son’s wedding, and I was able to find that, thanks to you.”
“Coming from a sexually abusive relationship, I was forced into pornography. I became dependent on drugs to cope with the reality of my life. Thanks to the Lydia House, I’m getting my life back on track.”
These are the words that are engrained into my brain. Words of heartbreak, of struggle, of newfound hope, of thanks. The words that the ladies of the Open Door Mission’s Lydia House are brave enough to share with us during setup on the night before the event.
2016 was my third year helping out with Max I. Walker’s Ultra Chic Boutique, and my first year partnering with Lisa and handling all of the ins and outs of the event itself. So much behind-the-scenes work goes into ensuring a successful event. Max I. Walker employees work year-round, cleaning and organizing these dresses. I, with the help of my intern Marlee, managed scouting vendors, models, designers, volunteers, sponsors, raffle items, as well as coming up with promotional ideas to include our social media audience.
Months of preparation and planning and hours of setup go into making sure those six hours count. And this year was our most successful yet, pulling in $28,000 in a mere six hours for The Lydia House. Being there for that final count makes all the months of hard work worth it. To be a part of something bigger than myself. Something that occupies my mind beyond my 8 to 5. Something that gives back to the community in such a selfless way.
The $28,000 raised at this year’s Ultra Chic Boutique will go towards providing addiction and behavioral counseling for women in the New Life Recovery program, which focuses on prevention plans and coping strategies to avoid relapse.
I can’t wait to see what we do next year.
“It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa