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Reno, NV 89509
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We started on Maui, the Valley Isle, bringing the aloha spirit of harmony between people and nature into our women's clothing made for beach, town, and travels near and far. Feel the difference of heritage textiles, natural materials, and exotic touch of far-off destinations.

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Legal options for us "preexisting conditions"?

Amy DeCew

From our designer, whose days may be numbered:

I would like to examine several possibilities for suing and/or prosecuting either the individual members who voted for this legislation, and, if this passes the Senate, the Federal government. I'm seeking help and advice from everyone I know.

My thinking is as follows: if we have state and Federal anti-discrimination protections in place for groups of people who historically were and still currently are often denied the same rights as other citizens, eg minorities, LGBTQ, on things like real estate transactions, why should we allow active and purposeful discrimination against certain populations of people in our healthcare system?

I realize the state levels of discrimination protection vary, and at a Federal level we are facing the very real possibility of treating different groups of people in a different way, often based on how they were born. We claim as a nation we don't believe in denying people their rights for the color of their skin, but we are now on the verge of enacting legislation that denies people their rights if they were born with certain types of birth defects, for example. So the color of my skin is okay, but my heart defects place me in the category of being a second-class citizen. That's the United States my grandfathers served in WWII for?

Beyond the discrimination angle, what this, and several other pieces of recent legislation cause me to question is the possibility of viewing some of this from the angle of being hate crimes. Intentionally causing peoples' deaths on the basis of their societal grouping sounds like a hate crime to me.

This isn't just about paying more. It's about making care so expensive that targeted groups of people in our population cannot have care any longer because it will destroy their and their families' lives for them to get care. After several worthless decades of futile effort in this hypocritical and destructive country, I accept that I am the walking dead to 99.9% of people who don't know me. Since I am facing the possibility that I will not be able to protect my life if I am excluded from healthcare resources, and that middle-aged women with health issues are never at the top of anyone's hiring list, my choice is to protect my money, which I can pass on to other people who have more of a chance than I do. That could now be the choice for many, many more millions of people than myself.

I don't know the legal ins and outs well enough to know whether there is a case to be had from either of these perspectives, but I'm interested in contacting legal experts to find out.

You idiot politicians, you giant corporations, you callous conservatives have pissed someone off who has survived every single way you've tried to destroy her. From the Agent Orange you dumped on my father in Vietnam prior to my conception to the myriad of healthcare exclusions and costs you've tortured me and my entire family with for decades on end to the ways you always find to exclude people with health issues from gainful employment, know this: I'm still here. You can't kill all of us, no matter how hard you try. Enough of us will survive to come after you in every legal and financial way possible, so that your lives, your jobs, and your families are put at risk in the same exact way you are trying to force onto millions of people who did nothing more than commit the apparent crime of being born in this country, during this era. Because you cannot put yourself in someone else's shoes, we must now make you wear ours.

Healthcare rights are human rights.

Beyond the Retail Apocalypse

Amy DeCew

Much has been made of the current "retail apocalypse". But how does a system still based on 19th-century manufacturing and delivery methods survive the 21st century anyway? While we see a society overwhelmed with "stuff" and financially stressed from decades of flatline wages, I think the explanation goes beyond changing cultural mores and economic woe.

Whether at home or abroad, the apparel industry is still largely using cut-and-sew manufacturing methods to make your clothing. The industry hasn't invented much else for mass production yet. Sure, they've sped up fabric printing processes, invented faster sewing machines, expanded the range of materials available, created digital patternmaking software. Fashion has techified the clothing production process, but not reinvented it.

Ditto on the delivery. Boats, trucks, planes; the goods still have to get to you, and often they travel quite a long way. Delivery methods are faster than they used to be, but no one's beaming your next suit a la Star Trek into your home.

So, the industry has sped up. It's expanded your options. But beyond tweaking the speed, efficiency, and amount of stuff we make, we're still producing and delivering stuff in much the same overall system. Can that system sustain the stresses of the 21st century, and can we re-invent, or at least re-imagine, something so seemingly basic that it might appear impossible to re-invent and immune to fundamental change?

Beyond the retail apocalypse, there's room to fundamentally alter not only how we relate to "stuff" psychologically, environmentally, and economically, but also the opportunity for a radical re-do on how we make it and how you get it. If the current pressures lead to new horizons that step beyond what has essentially been a constant upgrade on the Model T, that's when we've truly started being creative.

 

Sustainable Business Snapshot

Amy DeCew

Small business issues are global issues

Small business issues are global issues

Words and images from The Economist, 1843, National Geographic, The New York Times Style Magazine, I Love Reno, Chronicle Books products, Island Heritage products, and Lucky Magazine inserts.

Boycott My Brand! Here's Why:

Amy DeCew

As a business owner, I want in on this boycott action. Starbucks, LL Bean, Nordstrom, Budweiser—why should we save all the hate for the big players? I may be small, but I’m so incredibly hateable. You should boycott my brand!

Whether you’re conservative or liberal, I’ve got a long list of why boycotting my brand should be central to your social media feed and occupy a huge amount of space in both your day and your mind. There’s no time to waste like the present, and we’ll include reasons for everyone, no matter your political persuasion, realizing of course that one more reason to boycott this brand is its unfathomable hippie-dippy insistence on listening to multiple viewpoints.

I'll provide a list of incredibly relevant topics for use in this boycott, and you should feel free to add your own once you've exhausted my ideas.

For those wishing to cover medical topics with credibility:

For starters, I’m actually physically very small, with serious medical issues. Not only am I physically different in a way that’s incredibly easy and accessible to ridicule, for which a lifetime of unaffordable therapy will not be enough, I am the American garbage heap created by our insurance system, pre- and post-Affordable Care Act. Whether you’re looking to make fun of someone with physical disabilities or looking for evidence of why Obamacare was bad, or why Obamacare was fine because it only damaged a few million Americans’ bank accounts and life dreams, I’ve got you covered! Much unlike our past and current healthcare system, I deliver beyond all expectations and don’t require a seventeen-hour questionnaire written in what was apparently translated from ancient Sanskrit. And unlike our current gaggle of rabble on Capitol Hill, I cut right across party lines. Do you notice the “ands” in this sentence? All haters welcome!

For those big corporation skeptics and/or wealthy liberals:

I have small brand. So, that’s great fodder as well, because you could either blame Wall Street, or big banks, or our current taxation system for a business environment that is decidedly set against small business owners, or you could look down your nose at me for not attending an elite business school, with an accompanying lecture about networking. Or, like some of my design school professors and financial advisors, you could tell me to marry well because that’s the only smart way to have successful fashion line. If you really wanted to cut to the chase while being incredibly erudite, you could just hand me a Jane Austen book while giving me a very dirty look, and then go to Twitter with #notmarriedwhatswrongwithher. Again, all roads are acceptable to express your displeasure with a) the larger economic climate b) my total lack of business sense or c) making sure people think I’m a freak because I’m single. Extra credit is absolutely given for doing all of the above, and if you’re really going to go above and beyond you’ll ask, small brand, what else could be small? Nudge, nudge, wink wink!

For those who love America First:

I think you’ll find the previous suggestions not half as interesting or fun as publicly condemning the fact that I don’t manufacture my clothing line in the United States because I can’t afford to, therefore I am not creating American jobs and deserve to be threatened by the President. Even if you blame past international trade agreements for the loss of manufacturing jobs, that’s no excuse for not getting upset that I’m not making shirts right here at home that would cost $650 to deliver to your doorstep, so you’d never buy them anyway. You still have a duty to hate me here, people; may I remind you to behave like true patriots?

You’ll find it’s that much easier to spread the boycott because I manufacture fair trade, supporting living wages and medical plans for people in foreign countries, creating in their communities what used to be the American dream. According to current reckoning, not only are these fair trade people, spread around the world in so many different countries, clearly thieves and probably terrorists, but it’s clear I should be both mined for digital information by Silicon Valley and hauled in by the Department of Homeland Security for having email conversations about fabric. What kind of fabric?

Funny you should pick up on that top-secret code word, because it’s organic fabric. Believing chemicals found in rat poison probably don’t belong in or on our bodies, I use materials without pesticides. I then take it one more elitist step further and use nontoxic dyes that are responsibly disposed of, so I’d likely be one of those EPA-loving wackjobs who don’t want to drink Red #5. Keeping our soil and drinking water safe for generations to come, in an international context where much of our food travels a long way to get to us, is inexcusable when we could make a quick buck now and deal with the birth defects and unusual cancers later. None of this kind of thing ever affects us here in the United States, anyway, so there’s no reason to worry about it. Just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan; they’ll tell you that chemical concerns and safety regulations are totally bogus.

Further evidence of the subversive nature of this brand is demonstrated in its celebration of the longstanding art forms and exquisite craft of other cultures. That is clearly un-American, and therefore unacceptable. Boycott, boycott, boycott!!! That kind of multicultural respect and admiration can’t lead anywhere good.

For the birther movement:

Not only does this brand display a dangerous acceptance of positive cross-cultural interactions, its founder is descended from immigrants! Yes, that’s right, not only French Huguenot refugees fleeing religious-based slaughter, not just English small farmers who remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution, but the traitorous rash of recent Canadianism runs strong here, with a grandparent born in Montreal. There is actually a DeCewsville, Canada, indicating the brand designer should be immediately required to display her birth certificate, and/or just be deported. We don’t need any of Justin Trudeau’s touchy-feely welcome mat for such dangerous people here.  Additional reasons for this deportation include the fact that the designer studied anthropology, which clearly makes her a Communist. The fact that said designer would basically love to be deported anywhere with universal health care just bolsters this reasoning. This one is so easy you don’t even need to use alternative facts!

For the fashionistas:

Let’s open up the opportunities for objection and rage up a little more, because a lot of you fashionistas are very liberal people who wouldn’t dare boycott us on the previous reasons provided. In fact, you might take the ill-advised route of actually empathizing with the situation, and you need to be reminded that we’re here to appall and offend you as well, because there is always something more you can object to, and that’s crucial to the slaughter we’re seeking on social media platforms. You’ve always hated our photos, objecting to them because they were done in a studio, objecting to them because they were not done in a studio, objecting to them because they basically existed at all, which is exactly the kind of thinking we want for the boycott. Keep it up! You also hate our models because they have all, to the last body type, failed to be eight feet tall and weigh three ounces, and we do not want you to lose the idea that women have no right to be anything other than genetic rarities brutalized into a life of existing as vacant and easily-replaceable display items. We are to be shamed on all fronts, endlessly, for our promotion of healthy, height-weight proportionate women of varying ethnicities who are all of legal age to make their own career decisions.

If that doesn’t scream boycott to you, then just let our products do the talking! The distinct lack of revealing, skin-tight clothing indicates we have a very bad attitude about women’s bodies, does it not? This brand’s attempt to clothe women in colorful, high-quality, upscale casual items that skim but don’t cling and pair with universally-despised items such as jeans mean we are 1) clearly ashamed of women’s bodies and 2) not taking enough risks with our aesthetic. This offers multiple points of artistic critique with which to lambast Lily of Valley Isle.

And what about that name? Who names anything like that? It’s too long, it’s too awkward, and it’s too much like a flower married an archipelago. Dumb, just dumb from a branding point of view. But it’s you who brand us, with the hot iron of your hashtags, in this fabulous boycott. We’re relying on you to hate our clothes, even if you can’t hate our values.

For the average person totally confused, outraged, and dismayed by what’s happening in our world today:

You can still boycott our brand. Do not give up! If we know anything about the world today, it’s that polarization and sheer idiocy are available for everyone to partake in! It may be a steep learning curve to generate this much hate out of seemingly thin air after a lifetime of trying to build better lives and communities, but we’ll give you a sampling of objections to choose from so that you don’t feel left out and you can get your feet wet with this reactionary, hatred-promoting non-conversation that is probably completely unfamiliar to you. We’d love to help you fit in and find your place in the mindless chaos.

For example, if you’re wondering why the brand’s clothes are expensive, you could condemn said brand (#LilyofValleyIsle) for charging high prices without understanding the context of organic, fair trade methods, exclusive prints from a textile studio that promotes opportunities for women, and handmade details. You must ignore the deeper context, or any concepts of quality, to truly be a part of the boycott. The idea is just to react to pricing alone. You could always say something like, “I only shop at Walmart”, and go into the financial problems you’re having because the economic non-recovery has left former middle class people wondering if Ramen noodles are going to be the eternal dinner option, and this is completely valid. The danger here is that you open up relevant, fact-based conversations about legitimate issues, and I’m not sure we’ll get far with the boycott that way. But it’s still a good try, and you’ll soon learn how much people will ignore thoughtful insights and well-considered information and get back on that screaming road to nowhere with additional material such as…

The fact that this brand does not offer plus sizes. Not only do we not cater to the runway crowd, we’re not catering to one of the most important customer segments in the industry today. Because nobody does, and following the crowd with gusto is fundamental not just to fashion, but to all brand boycotts. Can someone spell Budwiser? With this new topic, you have plenty of ammunition to call us stupid, to label us as body shamers, and to call us out as one more brand who is callous, non-inclusive, and hates women. You’ve got to ignore the part where we were planning to do this but needed to raise the money for it because we were hoping to get financially positioned to respond to customer requests by extending our sizing, and just jump to conclusions as quickly as possible without asking any questions or seeking any information. See? It was that easy to turn what could have been a real conversation into part of the stellar campaign for more noise! I’m hoping this example was illustrative of the type of non-thinking needed here.

I’m sure you can find many, many more reasons to boycott this brand. One might be the sheer volume of sarcasm in this blog post. You could come up with the old saw of “sarcasm is the tool of the weak”. Another objection might be “businesses shouldn’t do things like this, it’s highly unprofessional”. I think you know by now that conducting ourselves in a professional manner is no way to sell or market anything anymore, honestly! Since I don’t see a future for my career any more than you do, the word of the day is “Banzai”. Not the tree. Another objection, and really the most valid one based strictly on the level of talent is “you’re no Tina Fey”. But I know you can muster the strength, the skill, the tirade of insanity needed to boycott this brand. If all you want to do is boycott the boycotts, well, you’re not very much in the spirit of these fiery and inspiring times. Please rush to judgment without any further thought, and get those thumbs busy on your ironically-named smartphones.

Suggested Hashtags by category, and do come up with some of your own:

For everyone:

#boycottLilyofValleyIsle #IhateLilyofValleyIsle #boycottmybrand #thisb****iscrazy  

For friends and family:

#Idontknowherallthatwellwerenotclose #shesadopted #weveaskedhertoseektreatmentbefore

For current customers:

#Imsendingmyclothesbackrightnow#Ineverworeitanyway #whatisyourreturnspolicy

For fashionistas:

#yourclothesarentbigenough #yourclothesarentsmallenough #youdontbelonginthisindustry #neveremploythispersonohwaitweneverdidanyway

For conservatives:

#liberalscienceconspiracy#nastywoman #notmadeintheusa #jobthief #bleedingheartliberal #pullyourselfupbyyourownbootstraps

For the birthers:

#takeyourmapleleafand… #deportDeCew #showmeyourbirthcertificate

For the wealthy liberal elite:

#thisaddsnothingtotheconversation #nosheisnotanalumnus #thisistotallyunprofessional

For broke people:

#Walmartisomuchbetter #wishIhadajob #livingwagessoundnice

For sanity, truth, and all that we hope could still matter in the world:

#wellbehavedwomenseldommakehistory #sickofbeingpolite #longliveMargaretMead

Product liability and warranty disclaimer:

Proper use of this product may cause critical thinking and/or interest in compiling fact-based research. Not suitable for all users, and direct contact should be avoided with members of the human species. Handle with care, or don’t, it doesn’t really much matter anymore.

The Story of Susan G. Komen

Amy DeCew

Through November 15th, ten percent of every purchase from Lily of Valley Isle supports Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada in their efforts to increase support and treatment options for women with breast cancer.

Many people have heard of the Susan G. Komen Foundation but don't know Susan's story so we wanted to share it with you. 

"The Story that Started a Movement", written by Susan G. Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker.

Growing up, Suzy and I were just about as close as two sisters can get. Suzy was the perfect older sister. She was beautiful and kind and loving, not only to me but to everyone. She was the star of our hometown of Peoria, Illinois—the high school homecoming queen, the college beauty queen. I, on the other hand, was bigger, heavier and taller than most of my friends and her friends. I developed my own way of getting attention. I was a tomboy and a mischief-maker and delighted in nothing more than spending hours galloping around on horseback. Suzy tried desperately to teach me about the pretty things in life: how to fix my hair, apply makeup and coordinate my wardrobe. None of it seemed to work. I was still a big, sort of clumsy girl with two left feet. The boys didn't know I was alive, except that I was Susan Goodman's younger sister.

Suzy came back to Peoria when she graduated from college and got a job modeling locally. Eventually, she married her college sweetheart, Stan Komen. College, for me, was the first time I felt I belonged anywhere. I was active in many school projects and finally began to have confidence in myself. I felt independent and responsible and ready to take on the world.

After graduating, I packed up my bags and moved to Dallas, Texas, home of my father's older sister. Although we were separated by distance, Suzy and I spoke every day by phone in the late afternoon.

As if it were yesterday, I can remember the phone call I received from Suzy one Tuesday afternoon. Her doctor had found a lump in her breast that was not a cyst. He recommended a biopsy. A biopsy is the surgical removal and microscopic examination of tissue to see if cancer cells are present. I decided to fly home to Peoria. When I got off the plane, my father was waiting there alone with an expression on his face I will never forget. He didn't have to say a word. At the age of 33, Suzy had breast cancer.

What happened from this point on is still difficult for me to talk about because I am so much more knowledgeable on the subject today. If I had only known then what I know now. The truth of the matter is that growing up in the small town of Peoria, our family had been treated our whole lives by one doctor. Suzy trusted him with her cancer the same way she did with her measles. Mistake number one. None of us knew enough to inquire about seeking information from a major cancer center or from a group of physicians associated with one in Peoria. He was our doctor. Period. The most difficult concept to grasp about cancer, I think, is the fact that when it is first detected the patient usually feels just fine. There is rarely any pain associated with breast cancer in its early stages. So when you are told you've got a life-threatening disease, and the treatment sounds more heinous than the thought of a little lump in the breast, it is understandable that a woman uneducated about cancer might opt for no treatment at all. Such was the case with Suzy. My sister was terrified, naturally, but adamant against having a mastectomy.

Our family doctor called in a surgeon to review Suzy's case. It is important, if you are to learn from our mistakes, that I tell you a little bit about this surgeon. He was very handsome, very suave and seemed very self-confident. According to Suzy, this surgeon told Suzy he could cure her. Even the most respected cancer experts in the country (which he was certainly not) do not talk about recovery in terms of surviving cancer or remission. They refrain from using the word cure because cancer can recur. But that, of course, is exactly what Suzy wanted to hear, and who could blame her? Like many women, and for that matter men, too, Suzy was of the frame of mind that the doctor was always right. This surgeon suggested performing a subcutaneous mastectomy, a procedure in which the outside of the breast is left intact, but an incision is made and the breast tissue is removed. He would then do an implant ten days later. Suzy would be left with a small scar but no more cancer. She felt it was her best option. After Suzy's surgery, my parents, Stan and I were all at the hospital anxiously awaiting the results. The surgeon walked confidently in the room and said, "You can relax, we got it all. I believe she's cured." My heart sank because I knew enough to know that cure is a very difficult word to use in reference to cancer. If it is used at all, it is more likely to be spoken after a five-year period has passed without a recurrence.

For the next five months or so, Suzy felt pretty good. She was convinced she was cured. When I suggested she secure a second opinion just to be sure, she became very sensitive. After all, her doctor had told her she was fine. But before six months had gone by, our worst nightmare became a reality. Suzy found another lump. This time it was under her arm. Despite everyone's optimism her cancer had spread. Suzy went next to the Mayo Clinic, where we learned that her cancer had metastasized (spread) to her lung and under her arm. There was a tumor the size of a quarter in the upper part of her right lung and suspicious shadows elsewhere. Their recommendation was 30 days of radiation and then to "watch it."

Well, I, for one, was tired of "watching." I wanted to see some results. Terror, rage, sadness and above all, a feeling of complete and utter helplessness invaded me. Why was this happening to Suzy, of all people? What had she ever done to deserve to be so sick and so frightened? Although no one said anything aloud, we all knew my sister was now fighting for her life. And it all happened so quickly. She tried to keep up a brave front and would often talk of plans for the future.

A major turning point in Suzy's struggle for survival came from a surprising source, Mrs. Betty Ford. The year was 1978, and while serving as First Lady, Mrs. Ford had finished a successful bout with breast cancer. The whole country was shocked and saddened with the news of her breast cancer and mastectomy. Her bravery touched a place inside of Suzy that none of us could possibly understand because we hadn't gone through it ourselves. In Betty Ford, my sister found new strength. "Nan," she said, "if Mrs. Ford can admit she has breast cancer and tell the whole world she intends to fight it, well then so can I." The doctors at Mayo suggested Suzy have radiation therapy, which is a treatment using highenergy rays to damage (burn) cancer cells and stop them from growing. She did have the radiation but it was not successful in slowing her disease. The cancer was out of control, and there wasn't a thing we could do about it. But we had to try.

Suzy decided to seek treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. When she arrived, she was a Stage IV cancer patient. This means that the disease had spread to other organs in her body and was still growing. It was a very critical situation. But, for the first time, Suzy was part of a team: Her new doctor and his associates made Suzy a partner in every decision. They were completely and totally honest with her and all of us about her condition. Suzy was not only allowed to ask questions, she was encouraged to do so. Suzy's doctor's approach to the disease was an aggressive one. Thus began the saga of intense chemotherapy. The problem with chemotherapy is that it doesn't know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, so a lot of important healthy cells are killed in the process, including the cells of the stomach lining and hair roots. Chemotherapy is often accompanied by nausea, mouth sores, hair thinning, and sometimes total hair loss, depending on the type used. Suzy experienced all of that and more. Everyone given chemotherapy is warned that a side effect is hair loss, but nothing can prepare a woman for the shock and embarrassment of baldness. She bore up under the strain with all the dignity and grace she could manage, although I know she was devastated. Little did I know that even then, my sister was teaching me.

The stress and tension put on a family involved in a serious illness is unimaginable. You know you must stick together on the crucial matters, so often the tension released is by arguing about the little things. My father had a terrible time. He could not bear the sight of his precious daughter being so ill. As a result, it was our dear mother who bore the brunt of much of the burden. It was especially difficult for her because during this time lumps kept appearing in my breasts. I had my left breast biopsied three different times during Suzy's ordeal. Once, she had to leave Suzy's side in Houston in order to be with me in Dallas. All three of my tumors were benign (noncancerous). I hated to worry my mother, but the truth is, I was scared. Every time I felt the slightest little abnormality, my heart began to race. I had learned that women whose mothers or sisters have had breast cancer have as much as three times the usual risk of developing the disease.

Whenever we felt as if we couldn't go on, that the load was just too heavy, it was Suzy's grace and humor that got us through the day. She was able to find something to smile about with every turn of the road, and her infectious, warm concern was felt throughout the hospital. The one thing Suzy never found humor in, however, was the aesthetic conditions of the waiting rooms. The walls were empty, the chairs uncomfortable, and sometimes a patient would have to sit there waiting six or more hours for a scheduled appointment. Suzy was horrified and so was I. She was more concerned with the treatment of the patients while my concern was the treatment of her disease. I was outraged that more hadn't been learned to help my sister. "Nan," she said, "as soon as I get better, let's do something about this. You can find a way to speed up the research. I know you can. And I want to fix up this waiting room and make it pretty for the women who have to be here. This isn't right."

For about fifteen months, the Houston doctors were successful in slowing down Suzy's breast cancer. But then, for reasons known only to God, the disease started to rage inside her once again. Fully aware of her condition, but never willing to give up or talk about it, Suzy began a perilous and painful downhill battle. There was more surgery and more chemotherapy, but by now her body had built up a resistance to the drugs. Her cancer had gotten so out of control that it broke through the skin, resulting in grotesque sores all over her chest. She began to spend more time feeling awful and we spent more time feeling helpless. None of us knew what to do anymore. Up until this point, we had always spoken enthusiastically about our future together. It was becoming more obvious with each new day that this was our future with Suzy.

One day, during the time when Suzy stayed in Houston, we were lying together by the pool at the hotel. She loved to sunbathe as often as possible, because she felt that having color on her face was the only thing that made her look healthy. As I watched her lying there reading, I took note of her thin, frail body and strained breathing. Fortunately, Suzy was into her book and paid no attention to me. Had she looked over, she would have seen my tears and known immediately what I was thinking. Our time together was drawing to a close. In a flood of beautiful memories, I began to look back on the sacred relationship I shared with my sister. Frantically, I wrote my memories down, fearing somehow I might forget one later. I didn't realize then that memories so special are never forgotten. I also didn't realize that what I was writing that sunny afternoon was my sister's eulogy. It was time to begin saying our good-byes.

Our family had always been totally honest with each other, and breaking that trust at this point would hurt Suzy much more than help her. After my sister was released from M.D. Anderson, I tried to come home every other week for a visit. One particular Sunday afternoon on the way back to the airport, Suzy spoke to me again about doing something to help the sick women in the hospital. This practically tore my heart out because here she was, hardly able to manage a whisper, and she was worrying about other people. I couldn't bear it. When my father pulled up to the curb, I quickly kissed them both good-bye and jumped out of the car. I was just about inside when I heard a funny sound that sounded like my name. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. There was Suzy, standing up outside the car on wobbly knees, wig slightly askew. With her arms outstretched, she said gently, "Good-bye, Nanny, I love you." I hugged her so hard I was afraid she might crumble. And then I ran to catch my plane. I never saw my sister alive again.

After nine operations, three courses of chemotherapy and radiation, she had lost her three-year war. By the time I flew back to her side it was too late. She was gone.

The months after Suzy's funeral were the saddest in my life. I wanted to stay near my parents because I knew they needed me (the truth is, we needed each other), but I had a son and a home that had been without any attention for a long time. It was time to get on with it, to pick myself up and start living again. Some things are easier said than done. I spent a lot of time thinking about Suzy.

There is no way to accurately describe the void her absence left in my life. I also spent a great deal of time questioning my faith and wondering why such a good person was taken from a family that needed her so desperately. I often wonder, as many people do when they've lost a loved one, what really happens to a soul when a person dies. Was Suzy watching me? Did she hear me when I called her name out loud? After much thought I came to the conclusion that I would never know until I died myself, but I sure didn't want to die in order to find out. Just in case, I wanted to do something to let her know how special she would always be in my heart. I was haunted by our last conversation and lay awake sometimes all night wondering what I could do to help other women with breast cancer.

Could one person really make a difference? 

1 in 8 women need you!

Amy DeCew

1 in 8 women. That's a sobering statistic for the prevalence of a disease but that is the reality of breast cancer.  Most of us will know someone with this cancer in our circle of friends and family and today the treatment and support options are improving year after year thanks to supporters, sponsors, community advocates and new research. Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada is dedicated to empowering local women and changing the game for individuals, families and our community. 

Through November 15th, ten percent of all Lily of Valley Isle sales will go to support the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Reno!  

Komen Nevada has been raising funds and supporting Nevada communities for 21 years. To date, more than $11.2 million has been allocated to local education, screening and treatment programs for the uninsured and underinsured and more than $3 million has been raised for international breast cancer research focused on reducing breast cancer incidence and/or mortality within the decade.

 

Reno Race for the Cure

Amy DeCew

Did you miss Reno’s Race for the Cure?

Be more than pink! Head over to Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada and you can register now for the Virtual Reno Race for the Cure. You will receive a shirt, bib and course map to run without the wind and rain! 

You can also donate by making a purchase from Lily of Valley Isle anytime through November 15. Ten percent of all online sales will support efforts of Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada to increase breast cancer treatment and support.

 

Breast Cancer Survival with the Susan G. Komen Foundation

Amy DeCew

74 to 99!  Back in 1980, the survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was 74%.  Today it is 99%.  Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada has helped change the survival rate for early diagnosis by expanding education and treatment options.   For EVERY purchase made through November 15th, 10% is donated to the Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada to increase support and treatment options for women with breast cancer. 

Lily of Valley Isle has a number of garments that are made for women fighting cancer.  Every garment is made from organic cotton free of harsh chemicals and the cuts of the neckline, sleeves and torso conceal enough for comfort with out choking your style.   Items that are favorites among our survivor friends are listed under breast cancer clothing.

 

Fall Season Savings

Amy DeCew

Not only are you shopping for a cause with our Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada fundraising donations, but you're getting a discount, too! Take 15% off your order plus free USPS shipping in the USA when you enter code FALL15 at checkout and save on sustainable style.

Natural or Synthentic? Sometimes It's Both

Amy DeCew

Some fiber and fabric types are the result of a process that takes a natural material and, through the powers of technology, transforms it into a wearable item. These hybrid fiber types can be difficult to understand when you're looking at labels in a store. What's natural, what's synthetic? Sometimes the best way to understand it is "a little bit of both".

Take rayon, for example. Aka "viscose", it was first patented in 1894 as an alternative to silk. It was an innovation spurred by a crisis in the European silk industry, which was threatened in the 1860s by a disease that killed silkworms. Seeking alternatives, the inventors went to work on a fiber that felt just as smooth and could serve as a good substitute, preferably without the risks and costs of silk.

They found their answer in cellulose; in other words, wood pulp. The wood is broken down by physical and chemical means, to generate a soup that can be turned into fiber and fabric; after all, what is paper made of? Unfortunately, the process of making rayon can require a huge amount of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. It's come under fire in the sustainability movement as a fabric requiring too many resources in the wrong way.

But improvements have been made over the years to make the process more efficient and less polluting, and now there are varying degrees of "good" and "bad" rayon and viscose out there. Some companies like Lenzing use fast-growing woods like beech and eucalyptus, and manufacture in a closed-loop system that reduces or eliminates waste, emissions, and pollutants. But you need to look for special names on your clothing tags to get the good stuff-- looked for the trademarked names of Tencel, Modal, and MicroModal.

As is often the case, it's a combination of the original fiber, how it's grown, what it's processed with, and what chemicals it's treated with that makes it either a wonderful or a terrible choice for your skin and your values. Natural or synthetic, or semi-synthetic, the crucial difference is often the companies involved in the supply chain.

Pink With A Purpose

Amy DeCew

susangkomennevadalogo
lilyofvalleyisleorganiccottonwomensclothingsensitiveskinbreastcancer

Come join the Reno Race For The Cure!

This summer we've joined forces with Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada to raise funds for their breast cancer initiatives.

Through November 15th, 2016, 10% of all online purchases from our website will be donated to www.komennevada.org.

Whether you race, shop, or spread the word, you'll help raise funds for educational outreach, treatment, and support for women determined to make a difference in fighting breast cancer.

Clothing for Breast Cancer

Amy DeCew

With two generations of maternal breast cancer in her family, our designer Amy comes with a personal understanding of what it means to have a medical diagnosis affect multiple aspects of a woman’s life, from family dynamics to financial considerations to career goals. Breast cancer patients have specific issues to address in how the treatment impacts their bodies, their sense of self, and their future.

While it’s only one of the many steps involved in a complex equation, finding clothing specifically addressing these needs can be challenging. With the radical body changes that breast cancer can create, it can be like having to dress a whole new body, one that has a different feel, shape, and identity. In the treatment and recovery process, issues like scarring, sensitive skin, lymphedema, and changes in body shape or size can make it tough to find clothing that fits and feels great.

Looking for clothing with specific design features and fabrics can give you a great wardrobe that doesn't come across as specialty or medical clothing.

Fabrics:

As dressing standards have gotten more informal, we wear a lot of t-shirt type fabrics in our daily lives-- stretchy knit jersey. Sometimes this can cling or get a little too sweaty, so you may want to look for woven tops in natural fibers like cotton and linen. Woven fabrics have less stretch, and a little more structure, which can help cut down on the cling and elevate your look without taking you out of your comfort zone.

Necklines:

This is where it's about proportion, rather than a specific neckline type. Whether it's V-neck, scoop neck, or boat neck, for many women, a neckline that hits four to six inches below where your neck meets your torso will reveal enough to highlight your face, without flopping, flapping, and otherwise misbehaving! If you have a flexible measuring tape, measuring a garment that works well for you can help you figure out your own individual sweet spot on that balance of depth and width that allows you to wear specialty bras and camisoles without reaching for a turtleneck every time.

Sleeves:

Most women’s tops, dresses, and jackets are made with set-in sleeves, which sit more closely around the shoulder and armpit. After a surgery or with the swelling of lymphedema, set-in sleeves can become constricting. Look for sleeve shapes with an easier fit that give more room from the shoulder down through the sleeve using raglan and dolman cuts. Alternative shapes give a modern, designer look while providing the functionality you need.

Torso Shape:

A-line silhouettes that skim but don’t cling to the body are a great way to show your shape in a sophisticated yet comfortable style. Slightly boxy tops convey a sense of cool without hiding you in a tent of fabric. Shaping features like darts, curved seams, and walking vents allow for movement and fit ease, so look for the little tailored details that flatter and create structure by incorporating designer touches.

You'll see some of these concepts about the fabrics and silhouettes in pieces from our own clothing line in our Breast Cancer Clothing section. There's more options out there on the market than you might realize, when you know what shapes, features, and fabrics are your best bet for comfort with style.

Why Is My Shirt Driving Me Crazy?

Amy DeCew

If you're one of the women out there with sensitive skin, the fabrics you choose can make a huge difference in the comfort of your clothing. Even the average cotton shirt, which seems like it should be a safe choice for allergic or sensitive skin, can have irritating dyes and coatings that are a part of the manufacturing process. If you’ve been wondering why some of the clothes you wear are driving you crazy, this could be one of the problems.

What's missing from a garment is sometimes what makes it feel great. Organic cotton doesn't use industrial pesticides, reducing the number of chemicals in the final fabric. Just as important, the scouring agents, bleaches, and dyes that the fabric gets put through need to be as minimal and as low-impact as possible. Look for clothing from companies that pay attention to processing methods. 

That's why we only work with with suppliers who have eliminated formaldehyde, chlorine bleaches, AZO compounds, heavy metals, PVCs, and platisols from their fabrics. Keeping our natural fiber fabrics free of harsh chemicals makes our line more wearable for those with sensitive skin. Beyond the environmental benefits and healthier environment for those working in the garment industry, there's a win for customers when they can wear their clothing in comfort.

If you're someone with skin reactions, allergies, and specific needs in your clothing, here are some resources to learn more about organics, common clothing chemicals, and new options in fabric. From international organizations to individual blogs on health and well-being, the awareness is spreading on our challenges and options in choosing clothing that caters to skin satisfaction.

The Global Organic Textile Standard

Organic Clothing Blog

Organic Lifestyle Platform

Earth Day Action Tools

Amy DeCew

Earth Day 2016 is on the way, and we're sharing some info and tools to boost your reduce-reuse-recycle knowhow. 

From pantyhose to water filters, there are more household objects that can be recycled these days. Even fishing line makes the list on this resource from Green America about surprising, and rewarding, plastics recycling programs. 

Ever seen your own personal carbon footprint? This carbon calculator from Carbon Credit Capital can be used to look at your own household's resource use, and compare it to similar households. You can also track an event, or a small business, to get an idea of your impact and see how to cut down on consumption-- which can also help you cut those bills!

Get a list of what's on in your neighborhood for Earth Day with the Envirolink Resource Guide. Learn about the day's history or post your own event; the worldwide community celebration is only a click away.

What was once considered a "fringe" event is now a mainstream way to access and grow practical ways of living more consciously, safely, and sustainably on our one and only "big blue marble". Thanks to those who do their part to keep her blue-- and green. 

Downsizing, Tiny Homes, and Clutter-Free Living

Amy DeCew

One of the most consistent desires expressed in the general zeitgeist of lifestyle discussions is the dream to live the life you want. In an economy that is still recovering, with debates over healthcare, taxation, foreign policy, and how much we can come together as a nation, the dreams we had as individuals, dreams that began in a different context and seem battered by recent events, can seem far away at best. "Impossible and crazy to work for because it's never going to happen" is a characterization that gives an appearance of common sense and clear-eyed knowledge. But there are people changing the game, and entire communities spread across the country, united in their push to actively participate in what matters most to them.

What does any of this have to do with fashion? Well, sustainable fashion comes from a less-is-more, do-unto-others approach that brings a holistic focus not only to how things are made, but how they're used, how much they're used, and how they are discarded. It's the reduce-reuse-recycle lifestyle applied to business, looking for maximum value, maximum values, and a relationship with makers and customers that is more personalized. It's this relationship that's put us in touch with the Tiny House movement, the downsizing crowd, the capsule wardrobe wearers: all those folks who want their stuff to serve them, and serve the larger purpose of getting out there and really living, being, and doing, rather than keeping up with the Joneses and accumulating.

What starts with a quest to organize and clear a closet often expands to a lifestyle change of clutter-clearing, minimizing, and deeply examining where someone wants their time, energy, and money to go. So we're sharing some amazing resources for a well-rounded and informed approach.

Tiny Home adventurer and author Jenn Baxter has a great blog and additional class sessions on healthy eating, toxin-free households, and living space organization. You can find her at her F.A.S.T. (fabulous, abundant, simple, tiny) website, sharing tips and her own story of radical and empowering lifestyle change.

Stylist Kathleen Audet is one of our favorite go-to brains in Reno for all things fashion. With clients across the U.S., Kathleen takes a larger look at what it means to represent yourself physically in a society that puts so much meaning into appearance, and how your wardrobe can more accurately reflect who you truly are and what you want to achieve on a personal and professional level. But it doesn't focus on your size, it isn't a cookie-cutter formula, and it starts with what moves your heart!

If you haven't heard of her already, Marie Kondo has become an international sensation on the joy of clearing and de-cluttering. With a system that starts with the internal voice we so often ignore, she's bringing a philosophy that comes from the heart to give your head a rest in the seemingly endless but truly achievable task of owning only what matters for your unique life.

Inspiration comes in many forms, from many people, and at a time when real change can seem like a luxury, learning from those who live it can get you going on the meanings you've been wanting to create. Where is your next destination, inside and out?

Giving Back, Creating Change: Sam Russell's Giving Closet

Amy DeCew

Sharing the work of those give back, meet Sam Russell, a stylist and philanthropist who is supporting the needs and opportunities of women at life-changing stages in their personal and professional development through his nonprofit organization, The Giving Closet.

A fashion writer and celebrity stylist, Sam takes his passion and translates it into a helping hand for women who have experienced major challenges in their health, careers, and personal lives. From single moms to cancer survivors, re-charging their careers by advancing their education while they work at the jobs that help support their families, Sam puts together $10,000 wardrobes with donations from designer clothing and accessory brands. These giveaway events provide a free career wardrobe chosen specifically for each recipient, acknowledging the tenacity, courage, and hard work of women pursuing a better future, no matter the obstacles.

With coverage from The Huffington Post to Fashion Week Online, Sam goes nationwide to support the goals of The Giving Closet participants. Check out Sam's latest giveaway event video coverage in his home town of Austin, Texas, where inspired wardrobes support positive life changes.

The Lost Average

Amy DeCew

Ten years in the fashion industry has left me puzzled with the way we fail to serve the needs of the so-called “average” woman. As a society, we’ve turned “average”, once a useful as a guide to understanding the range most people fall into, into a synonym for “undesirable”, “fat”, and “there is nothing in my closet that fits me”.

Consider fashion imagery. It’s rarely all about being real, right? How often do you see someone who looks like your friend, neighbor, co-worker, or mom in an ad for a well-known, expensive fashion brand? How often do you even see a woman who looks like she might be over 30, even for a brand that mostly sells to women over 30? The argument in fashion is that we always must be aspirational and artistic, we must always be leading someone toward a grander vision that they want to be. But do we all really relate to the imagery that shows us an eternally 20-year-old, 95-pound, 6-foot-tall multi-millionaire in a swanky hotspot, or do we just groan in agony at this point in our lives, despite all the inspirational self-help seminars we’ve done?

Beyond the advertising of the clothes, how much better would women feel if those clothes actually fit them? If shopping didn’t have to be a brain breaking needle-in-haystack search for something that “sort of works”? Most of us don’t expect the fashion image to change, but if the clothes could just fit, we’d be happy with that. Why don’t most clothes seem to fit the average woman well? While we’ve seen a very welcome increase in the availability of plus sizes, I’m not sure we’ve seen a good systematic increase in the availability of well-made clothes for the “average” woman, and there are factors in the industry that may be contributing to this.

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes secret that could be part of the problem. The average height of women in the US is 5’4”. Most fit models used as brand “bodies” to prototype clothing samples are 5’7” and up. Is it any wonder our pant hems are dragging on the ground? When the average weight for that 5’4” woman is between 120-135 pounds, and that 5’7” fit model weighs 120 pounds, there’s a further mismatch in proportion about where weight is distributed on the body and how to accommodate shape. If you go out there and shop and have a hard time finding your size or clothes that fit, you’re not alone. Designing and scaling items properly between sizes is not just about height and weight, it’s also about where shape happens proportionally on that height and weight.

Another obstacle to great fit is the increased use of computer programs to make clothing patterns. While streamlining the process and making quick digital communications possible, time must be spent on making these very linear shapes into curved shapes, with the darts, vents, and subtleties in cut that make the fit difference. Blocks are easy, curves take effort. Grading between sizes is often done by formula based on body data from years ago, and while that may be quicker, it’s not necessarily more accurate. Adding to that, the pressure to produce quickly and cheaply means the time isn’t always spent on detailed multiple fit issues. There are deadlines to be met with stores expecting stock, overseas communications in multiple languages, and the general rule is that if you have to go beyond three samples, you cut the item from the lineup. A square-ish item is easier for the machines to cut through multiple fabric layers at once with fewer errors, and straighter lines to sew is less expensive to make, because each feature you add and each seam that’s more challenging to sew costs you time and money as a producer. Current production pressures in the industry actually impact the fit of your clothes.

So, whether you’re talking about fashion image or fashion product, it’s not easy to be “average”. The industry is not catering to you, it’s telling you to be a different height, weight, age, and income bracket than you are. It’s giving you product based on business pressures, economics, speed, and sometimes, old data or “aspirational” body types.

Imagine this as an alternative: Size 16 models on every runway. 30 to 65 year-old brand models on every website. Clothes made with a 5’4” 125 pound fit model in the sampling process. Colors chosen to flatter rather than follow trends. Time spent on curves and fit features, with some hand-done old-school patternmaking. Magazines with no ads for diet pills. Updated body statistics in the computer programs. Articles about women in their retirement years starting new businesses in every social media feed you saw. How differently would women feel about themselves?

What we project matters, and what we make matters, because it impacts women’s sense of empowerment. We can’t ever get away from constant digital, print, and auditory bombardment, but what if the onslaught reflected us, rather than excluded us? We’re a consumer society with a seemingly endless supply of what to buy, and even an economic downturn doesn’t change the instant availability of ways to shop. What if the purchases we made were made for us, our real bodies, our “average” selves?

Less is More, Fashionably

Amy DeCew

Kathleen Audet of Your Authentic Image talks fashion, sustainability, and holistic living with Lily of Valley Isle designer Amy.

Kathleen Audet of Your Authentic Image talks fashion, sustainability, and holistic living with Lily of Valley Isle designer Amy.

In a season of what stuff to buy for which person in your life, it can seem overwhelming to think about owning and buying more. For a refreshing less-is-more approach (just in time for those New Year's resolutions) Kathleen Audet offers fashion sanity and a savvy approach to keeping your closet in order and your look true to you.

We sat down with Kathleen to swap stories, evaluate samples, and discuss the sea change of sustainability and minimalism that so many customers and clients are seeking in an overloaded modern life. Quality, flexibility of use, and multitasking pieces that help express your individual personality go to the top of the list when simplifying a wardrobe.

Going beyond fast fashion,  Your Authentic Image delves deeper into a holistic vision of what works for your life and your look. With a method that transcends trends and teaches how to save time and get value for your dollar, Kathleen's free eBook is a must-read for those interested in how less can be more, fashionably.

Happy holidays and wishes for your holistic well-being from Lily of Valley Isle!

Beyond the Brand, the Values

Amy DeCew

sfsfwi runway show Lily of Valley Isle

What goes into a clothing brand beyond the final look? Long before the product gets presented, our creative process starts with what we believe in.

Health and well-being is a primary focus in our own lives. That's why we've chosen organic fabrics and nontoxic dyes, which help reduce the number of pesticides and chemicals used in the garment industry, making for healthier soil and cleaner water sources. But we don't stop there. Women's education and empowerment has been shown to be one of the most successful ways to combat poverty and create opportunity for the next generation. That's why we work with facilities that follow fair trade standards and offer community outreach with additional employment training for at-risk women seeking jobs to support their families.

By making conscious choices in how our items are produced, we increase the focus on health from both an environmental perspective and an individual perspective. We make what we believe in an integral part of how our items are made.

For a fantastic definition of some of the concepts and practices involved behind the scenes, this article on ethical and sustainable fashion from FashionHedge provides a guide, with comments and explanations from industry experts.