Social Encore: Moving with femininity
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Back in 2008, First Lady the Movement founder Donna Rizando was in a place she didn’t quite understand. Instead of focusing on the negatives while moping, however, she turned her situation around into something positive.
Following her experience, Rizando decided to create a community that would help empower women to achieve their dreams. Along with co-founder Rachael Ranchez-Bosque, the two launched the “First Lady Movement Expo” in 2010.
Since then, the ladies have turned it into an annual event. Now in its fourth year, female musicians, entrepreneurs and artists come together to celebrate their femininity, and most of all, each other.
“What motivates me to do it each year is our current and growing following,” said Rizando. “They have supported us and want to be a part of the movement, some since 2008.”
Rizando said she is inspired by the influence her annual event has on the women who participate.
“I’m inspired from seeing other women start their own businesses and want to succeed in doing what they love,” she said.
Mixe Medium jewelry designer Ericka Nicole Bueno is one of those who made it. Bueno first released her jewelry collection at last year’s expo and has enjoyed success since. Bueno will premiere a fashion show at this year’s expo, featuring businesses like Bamboo Sky, Iratik Jewelry, Mango Luxe, Basique Threads and iKandy to runway music mixed by DJ Tittahbyte.
Local urban boutique entrepreneur Christina Patino knows how difficult it is to start a business from the ground up while relying solely on the Hawaii community for support.
The 27-year-old mother of two started iKandy in 2003 from sketches she drew. Using her paycheck from a full-time job, she introduced her first set of shirts via MySpace. Word got out through social media, and she started selling at craft fairs, expos and even the trunk of her car.
Patino then worked her way up to a kiosk at Pearlridge and recently opened her first storefront last month at Harbor Center. Patino said events like the “First Lady Expo” have a mission to help unify women in business and empower them to go after their dreams.
“I’ve always been ecstatic to support an event that gives us women an opportunity to shine together,” she said.
Rizando said she hopes people will come to the event in order to get a better understanding of what their movement is all about. She hopes to give people an opportunity to network with empowering women from across the island.
“We want every woman to succeed, intellectually as women and overall continue to grow as strong businesswomen,” she said.
Platino said events like these are important for the public to support because they help put a face to the many local small businesses out there.
“Supporting us means supporting our local economy, providing for our families, and making our dreams reality,” she said.
The “First Lady Movement Expo” will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at YWCA Laniakea, 1040 Richards St. Visit the First Lady Facebook page for more information.
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.