Every now and then you come across a person whose personality just grabs your attention. For whatever reason it could be-a unique look, a great smile, a nice disposition, an infectious laugh-the list goes on. When I meet these type of people I am motivated to learn more about what makes them who they are-and what makes them tick.
And since Chicago is a city built on it's great personalities-I discovered Rachel Schwanz to be one of those people-who I had the opportunity to meet while she was hosting a fundraiser for Dress For Success at Salvage One. Finding her to be very entertaining and then discovering her involvement with Young Executives for Success and the Entertaining Company I sought to sit down with her and have a chat.
On location at Moonshine in Bucktown were able to grab a place amongst the crowd to have a talk.
Q. How did you get involved with fashion show fundraiser at Salvage One?
A. There's a group called Young Executives for Success(Y.E.S!) which is the fundraising arm for Dress for Success-which is a national organization. As part of Y.E.S! we put together our event committee and started the fundraising arm. I was elected to be the events chair by the committee given my background in events. I was then put in charge of pulling together a spring fashion show which turned into a summer fashion show.
Q.How did you get your start in events?
A. I've been in events since college over the past 7 years. I have worked on a number of different events...auto shows, weddings, fashion events, fundraisers-more on the social side-events that aren't corporate driven. Given my background and experience in the food and beverage industry with the Entertaining Company they sought fit for me to fill the seat as events chairperson.
Q. And how did you get hooked up with Dress for Success?
A. Well, actually they found me. I have a number of great friends that sit on their committee and they brought me in about two years ago. They needed my help with the organization. I've always been into fashion (and have always wanted a clothing label and a cooking show for that matter). This passion for fashion was parlayed into doing retail and fashion based events. This is something I love doing because I get the best of both worlds.
Dress For Success helps outfit women-providing them the tools they need to get back in the workforce including clothing. That was a way for me to give back-donating clothes of my own and clothes my girlfriends would have to contribute-it gives us another purpose life. The cause kind of hit home because it could happen to anyone-being in need.
Q. You remind me of personalities I met during my time spent living in NYC-a character straight out of Saturday Night Live. Are you from Chicago? What's your story?
A. It's funny that you say that-I'm not from Chicago. Most people think that I'm from New York and that I'm Jewish but I'm neither. I'm at a point where I just go with it because people just assume. I actually grew up in Michigan, went to Michigan State and moved right from college to Chicago. I already had a ton of friends here so it made for a natural transition. It works for me being here and I enjoy it. There's such a bad ass crowd with lots of energy who are out and about...it's fun.
Q. What about Chicago turns you on?
A. The fact that it is a really small big city. It's one of those places where somehow you know everyone-but it doesn't feel like that. You're always running into people you know, no matter where you are. There's always something going on-something to do without it necessarily being out on the town for the night. There are people doing all kinds of things like being at Millenium Park watching a ballet perform-it's things like this that make it a really cool city.
Q. Ok, now for the tough question who is your favorite designer if you had to name one?
Lanvin! Love Lanvin. It's Parisian. Their collections are amazing-always have been. They go back to the likes of Oscar De La Renta and Valentino. Next would be Gucci-because they are very consistent. Everything they do is so well done-they're flawless.
Q. So what's next for you and Y.E.S!?
A. There's a membership committee meeting July 20th-6pm at Hotel Allegro in the Loop. The idea is to get the word out about what we do and bring on more volunteers-now that the fashion show has given us more voice and ability to do more fun events. We also want to bring attention to the Dress For Success store on the South Side where those in need can actually go and shop for these clothes and help them in this aspect. The awareness helps, so we all can assist those in need.
From the look of things Rachel Schwanz is one to watch and we will expect more exciting thing to come from her, Y.E.S! and the Entertaining Company!