Posted originally on Giving in Style's blog. Tyler Butler's Giving in Style showcases the convergence of fashion and philanthropy.
Tess Loo is the infectious creative force behind the My Sister's Closet (MSC) brand. Her sunny disposition and focus on positivity are evident in her work and in the way in which she herself dresses. At her core she is an artist and she expresses herself through many different mediums. Tess has taken the MSC brand and elevated its cool quotient through her visual window displays, imaginative fashion shows and her undeniable eye for exceptional finds at unheard of prices. She sets trends rather than following them. And her influence extends well beyond the MSC stores and advances the visibility and sophistication of many important causes. Tess's personal brand is based on the concept of love and sharing and she is often compared to being a ray of sunshine in what can be an otherwise cloudy world. Plus, MSC is the official fashion partner for Giving In Style - keeping fresh, current, designer looks popping up at every special occasion thanks to their many boutique locations. Learn more about Tess Loo...
How do you describe what you do:
I describe myself and what I do in several different ways, first as a designer. The definition I like for designer describes what I do on a daily basis. If I am given a problem the needs to be solved, I design a solution. I am also a designer in a different way. I design, create and execute store visuals 7-8 times per year for our stores in Arizona and California. My visuals are creative, bright and fashion forward capturing the latest trends, colors and styles. My designs feature styles and fashion I create such as my Have a Very Gucci Holiday displays, where I crafted Gucci-esque fashions for our 43 mannequins.
Multi-media artist. At our stores we consign fashion for women and men and home. There are times I have the opportunity to work with local TV stations to talk about these topics. I will do segments on what to wear to an event. I just did a segment on what to wear to Barrett Jackson. We also completely change The Closet and Well Suited inventory, twice a year and I do segments discussing our amazing deals and steals and what to look to wear for the upcoming season. I have spent time talking about home décor and offering creative ideas for gift-wrap and DIY projects. My former home in PV has been featured on Cool Homes and the AZ Republic. Decorating my living space is something I have always enjoyed doing. In my early 30's when I lived in Colorado I was featured in Better Homes and Gardens living in zany loft I painted from floor to ceiling. As a multi-media artist I also used to write a column for So Scottsdale called "What the Frock". Today I write a newsletter for MSC. Personally I write a blog where I express life.
Fashion Stylist?. Naturally I talk, breathe and live fashion. I was born with a handbag on my tiny arm and fashion is something that I naturally love. How we dress is a way of expression. It is a sign of self-respect to put our best foot forward always. At our stores I help clients select the best looks for their lifestyle, I have dressed local TV and radio personalities and I will assist anyone that asks for advice on what or what not to wear. We have done social media contests where the winner gets to send an afternoon with me selecting new looks. This is my favorite thing to do. Helping a person find their inner-beauty and express externally it with their clothing.
What is the mission for your giving:
Giving back to my community through my creativity and fashion is something I have always done and believed in. In my past in Colorado I owned a high-end women's boutique called LuLu and I gave back to various organizations in my hometown. On many occasions I was producing fashion events that always involved a non-profit. I supported The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center and my ex-husband and I created a fundraiser for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo that is still profitable today.
How do you give back to society through your business:
At My Sister's closet we give back to society in so many ways. First of all we are recycling quality products to extend their life. In our society of instant gratification and mass-produced low quality clothing, it's key to buy and recycle quality wearables with hopes of less waste heaping up our massive waste landfills. A beautiful designer handbag has decades of life being passed from one fashionista to another.
In 2017 we started a campaign to end the use of single use plastic. We installed water vessel refilling stations in our stores and eliminated our use of plastic shopping bags. We are amping up this campaign and doing our best to stop the use of single use plastic before the plastic waste takes over the oceans and landfills.
My sisters donates hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to a handful of charitable causes. Ann and I have co-chaired several large galas in the valley that have raised close to a million dollars each. We have chaired the Fresh Start Women's Organization Gala, The Phoenix Art Museum party, (WARHOL) and now Compassion with Fashion 2018. We have also produced the fashion show for AHS for 4 years and I have headed up the décor committee for Compassion with Fashion in 2012. As an extreme creative I always go into these projects with a mission to do my absolute best to make each event unique. For Fresh Start, I used the working name The Best Gala Ever and changed the energy of the event. For the PAM we had the party in the parking lot and created a warehouse environment complete with go-go dancers and a graffiti'd storage container entrance.
Charity or Charities of choice:
My charities of choice are The Arizona Humane Society, of course and The Fresh Start Women's Organization. Both have a very special place in my heart. I believe in helping those without a voice.
Why have you supported these causes:
I support the AHS because I was raised with Ann as my sister. She taught me the beauty in helping a homeless animal in need. Ann and I have traveled many places together and where ever we have been in the world she is always rescuing an animal. How could I not help her and them? Our pets give us so much love. The least we can do is keep them safe and healthy.
Fresh Start Women's Organization holds a very special place in my heart. When Ann and I chaired their gala I photographed over 100 women walking through the doors at FS. I met them, hugged them, listened to their stories and cried with them. I understand because I too have been them. I know what abuse feels like. I am a survivor. We need a big voice against emotional, verbal and physical abuse. I am a big cheerleader for women that have the courage to ask for help and are brave to start fresh through all adversities.
Favorite business based on their giving efforts and why:
I like fashionable companies that give back. I am a big fan of H and M, Madewell, Lorna Jane and others that recycle the clothes you bring back to them. There's so much waste in the world. I believe in recycling as a form of giving back to Mother Earth. H and M also gave school supplies to refugees this holiday season. Pura Vida gives artisans full time jobs and gives back to over 190 charities.
Who influenced your spirit of giving and how:
My spirit of giving has been influenced by several people in my life. Growing up and as a young woman, I was associated with families of philanthropy and I learned why and how to give back. I am an empath so I naturally can feel compassion for others and always want to help. To me giving back is natural. As I mentioned above Ann has influenced my love for animals and nature. These days as a single woman with a daughter at University, I cannot write a large check but I can be there with my creativity to give what I can. We all can give back and help others.....
How do you believe fashion can aid philanthropy:
Fashion is a way of communicating and carrying a message. At this year's Golden Globes all the actress's wore black and both men and women had lapel pins with the Times Up message. A popular trend for the past few years that is gaining momentum is "sloganeering", the trend of wearing your message on a tee, handbag, belt straps, etc. Dior, Gucci and other popular fashion houses have been doing this for years. It's really just a sophisticated version of the message tee of the past. We can dress our bodies to communicate a stand we are taking for or against a cause. H and M, Madewell and other companies have their recycling programs where you bring in old clothes and they recycle them to new denims, blouses and more. And of course there is the fashion show that always brings in a crowd and can raise money for philanthropy.
What is your biggest philanthropic accomplishment:
True philanthropy requires creativity, a positive mindset and is no longer about writing a $10,000 check. There was a time in my life my ex-husband could write a very large check, I could have made a decision to sit back and do nothing but let him give money. I never did that. I always said I would give back just as much if not more by using my creativity. I designed logos, invitations, ballrooms, table décor and any element that needed to be created. I knew that if an event had a strong visual appeal it would bring in more guests and more money. I give back to our community and to the world any way I'm able. To me the meaning of life and love is giving and receiving and it is through the helping of others we heal ourselves. My biggest philanthropic accomplishment is yet to be achieved. I hope to help women that have lost their voice by sharing my voice and story?stay tuned. I do think this is the year of the woman.
Favorite philanthropic quote:
"To move forward one must give back." - Oprah Winfrey