As we near the first anniversary of the Alloro Collection on March 20, we joyfully recall some moments in our brief history that were pure magic.
One of those moments occurred when I bought my husband an anniversary present to celebrate our 32nd year together and wandered into Neiman Marcus to see what they were promoting for spring.
I eventually ran into Jay, a Neiman Marcus saleswoman I had known over my 30 years in Washington. I told her we were about to launch a beautiful fashion collection for women who are undergoing breast cancer treatments.
She was so excited about the idea she marched me up to the general manager’s office, pulling my arm to make sure I didn’t escape.
The general manager turned out to be Martha Slagle, and she was in the middle of an intense meeting in a crowded room of maybe 15 women. She was clearly not happy to see us awkwardly standing there. She recognized Jay –but not me –as we lurked outside the door.
She walked out, and said, “Who are you??” I paused. Then I gave her a 40 second pitch about my breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery, only to discover there were no beautiful clothes designed for women who were recovering from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. I told her were about to launch our collection and that NM seemed like an organization that might showcase our collection.
She paused – and then said it was an intriguing idea and to come back with samples of the collection.
That moment was a complete turning point for our fledgling Alloro Collection. Our co-founder Christine Irvin and I returned with our bag of clothes—and Martha loved them. She offered to host a beautiful luncheon in the store for 25 doctors, oncologists, nurse navigators and women from embassies who were part of a cancer support group.
We hung our collection on Neiman Marcus racks – on beautiful hangers – in a gorgeous luncheon in the middle of the designer section of the store. Every seat was taken and we presented the concept and showed them the beautiful pieces that address the challenges women face during treatment – such as limited arm movement and chafing and necklines that cover scars – while still elegant and flattering.
From that moment on, a successful launch was assured. The medical community represented in the room was extremely positive and supportive of the collection. They loved the softness of the fabrics and the jewel-toned color of the pieces. And they were impressed that we addressed in the designs the real challenges that women face as they recover.
All were delighted to hear that we are donating 25% of profits to programs for underserved women.
We were taken seriously as a new business from that moment on. When we told friends, family, and the press that Neiman Marcus had given the Alloro Collection an introductory luncheon that was highly successful, we were immediately shown respect and taken seriously.
Thanks to these wonderful women who gave us a chance to launch in style—and we did! We haven’t paused since.