By Patty Fantasia
On the afternoon of Saturday, December 15th, Shop Her Closet held their year end VIPs: An Exchange between Shopping Addicts & Aficionadas event in the clubhouse of Broadstone Indigo located at 575 E. Azure Avenue in North Las Vegas.
Described as a boutique-like shopping experience for value minded fashionistas and their friends, A Shop Her Closet event doesn’t require looking at price tags or worrying about your budget because it’s an exchange making it purely guilt-free fun that benefits people of all incomes. A non-profit organization, Shop Her Closet provides fundraising opportunities for other organizations while offering attendees ways to update their wardrobes simply by paying the cost of admission. Typically, events include music, hors d’oeuvres and fashion shows featuring the collections of the favorite designers, stylists and collections of Founder and Executive Director Jada Marie Willis. After the events, all un-exchanged clothing and shoes are donated to a local charity of organization. Willis got the idea for her brainchild in 2008 after the nation was affected by the tough economy and many working people had to change their spending habits due to the loss of discretionary income. As a result, it is Jada’s vision to make these events highly anticipated by both its participants and the community. She wants attendees to have a guiltless shopping experience and be able to meet new people while learning more about enhancing their own personal styles.
Shop Her Closet Founder and Executive Director Jada Marie Willis
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia
During her adolescent years Jada was a tomboy. Although she wore dresses and skirts for church she preferred jeans, sweats, t-shirts and sneakers and played soccer, basketball and ran track so she didn’t concentrate on her make-up and nails until becoming a debutante late in her junior year of high school. However, it was while attending Florida’s A&M University where both girls and guys alike dressed-to-impress daily that she became fully aware of what fashion and style were all about. Affectionately referred to as “Fashion and Modeling University,” Jada began to shift her style from casual to chic and even learned how to “rip the runway” during a short modeling stint while a student there.
She worked in clothing retail and continued learning more about the fashion world and how to decipher trends and enjoyed styling ladies and helping them find looks to fit their shapes and personalities. In 2005 Willis moved to Los Angeles on an internship. She related, “Living there was like being in one big, ongoing fashion show for me: my roommate was a model and clotheshorse; the women at my job oozed of Furla bags, Jimmy Choo shoes and designer label outfits; and there were shopping malls in every nook and cranny of L.A. County. So, I began to study the people of the city as well as my Vogues, Elles and Luckys. At the end of my stay in LA, I decided that a career in fashion is the one thing I am passionate enough about to do for the rest of my life.”
After graduating with an MBA in 2006, Jada moved back to Las Vegas to work as a financial analyst in the hotel/gaming industry. She realized the difficulty the recession was causing on everyone’s spending, especially those like her who enjoyed the luxury of shopping. After reading in a magazine about how one should shop her own closet to create new outfits, she became inspired to have a small clothing exchange party. “The concept is simply to enjoy other fashionable ladies’ forgotten garments – in other words, shop other women’s closets to improve my own. My vision was to have us change our wardrobe without spending a dime,” Jada explained.
Founder and Executive Director Jada Marie Willis
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia
That “small”, but eventful party turned into a 25-30 guest event in a clubhouse-turned-boutique that included music, food and a runway show and set the stage for her Shop Her Closet Community Development Corporation, which has hosted several fabulous exchanges since 2009. The events have helped raise scholarships for Las Vegas high school students and provided quality clothing for a number of local organizations including WestCare Nevada’s women and children’s campus, Dress for Success Southern Nevada, Safe-Nest and The Shade Tree.
Because of her role in the business world, Jada understands the importance of networking and claims that Shop Her Closet does more than expand wardrobes and provide clothes to those less fortunate by offering chances here as well. “It is an opportunity for supporting businesses to network, market and possibly meet new customers. In past events, local designers were able to showcase their collections; a part-time photographer, jewelry artist, and caterer gained new clientele; and an emerging graphic design artist has been able to add to his portfolio.” To date Shop Her Closet Partners include Wesley Vonn Photography, which is headed by DeVonn Porter and specializes in action shots, fashion shoots and wedding celebrations; stylist Emika Porter, who has perfected the act of “thrifting” as the owner of Haute Thrif’ture; and designer, stylist, make-up artist and esthetician Shavonna Finley, coordinator of the featured style show Off the Hanger. The organization has also been lining up its share of super supporters such as Patty’s Closet, which has been with SHC from the beginning and Jada looks upon like a mentor; Jackson’s Bar & Grill, the chief food supplier; full service waxing boutique studio, Sweet Virginia Wax; Ilan Massage Studio; bag sponsor TM & V.V. Inc., Mobile Notary & Fingerprinting Services; smallVEGAS LLC & Dalton Avenue, who supply music at the events; Love Jones, The beautiful stone jewelry line from Ms. Luciana Jones; and the IFM Corp.
In the future Jada plans to reach out to more of the community, particularly disadvantaged women, through special exchanges, services and even classes with the intention of bringing style, self-esteem and beautiful clothing to many Las Vegas area residents.