The crisis in Ukraine has been weighing heavily on many of us. Our news programs continue to show heart shattering images of neighborhoods crumbling to the ground, families being ripped apart and millions of people displaced and unsure of their future. As a team and as a community we felt moved to act to do what we can to support the humanitarian efforts to aid the strong and brave people of Ukraine. This Saturday our incredible store manager Shelby taught a grounding yoga class that we were able to share with members of our community both in person and over social media. Our friends, family and neighbors showed up and gave donations and together we have raised $625 that we plan to spread equally across five different organizations. There are so many fundraising efforts in action right now and in doing our research these five spoke to our core values including helping women and partnering with our local community and their support efforts. Below is a brief description of each organization as well as a couple of resources if you are interested in doing more research on your own and donating privately. A huge thank you again to our community for helping us to spread love and support to the people of Ukraine as together we hope for a quick and peaceful resolution and opportunity to safely rebuild.
Razom emergency response is an SOS call to action in this time of need. They are currently focused on sending medical aid, tactical medical supplies and medical supplies and equipment to Ukrainian hospitals.
This organization is focused on helping the most vulnerable Ukrainians in need, including children. All donations will support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled. This assistance includes providing shelter, food, clean water, health and and psychosocial support, access to education and economic assistance, and more.
Fight for Right promotes and protects the human rights of people living with disabilities. In response to the crisis they are coordinating with accessible shelters, evacuations and emergency services ensuring those living with disabilities aren’t left out of humanitarian efforts.
The Urgent Action Fund is helping support women, transgender, and nonbinary activists on the ground in and around Ukraine, by providing flexible funding, access to communication channels and medical support.
The capital region is home to thousands of Ukrainian-Americans and the community has come together to raise funds for humanitarian needs of refugees in Ukraine. The donation will go to the Capital District Branch of the UCCA (Ukrainian Congress Committee of America) a charitable organization that has been working to aid the people of Ukraine since 1940.
Local Ukrainian Churches Collecting Goods:
The following churches in partnership with the Capital District Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America are collecting drop off items including medical supplies, first aid kits, sleeping supplies, personal hygiene products, clothing (unworn) baby supplies, tools and dried food.
St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Watervliet
St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Troy
St. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Cohoes
Read the times union article for times, locations and list of supplies requested.
Other Donation Guides & Resources:
It's easy in life to catch yourself always looking ahead. What am I going to have for lunch? Whats the next vacation I want to plan? When can I retire again?! But occasionally, and I suppose especially on anniversaries, it's nice to pause and look backward and remember how you got to where you are right now. This picture is from the day I signed the lease to our first location in the Saratoga Marketplace. I'd spent my whole mature life daydreaming, visualizing and working towards owning my own store, and here I was actually holding the keys. It was a small, empty, dusty, desperately in need of a paint job, tucked away corner unit, but all I could see was potential. I used blue tape to map out the fixtures I would buy and bribed my parents with burgers and beer to help me paint it top to bottom. Slowly furniture and product started to arrive and give color to what I had dreamed up in my head. The first year of owning a business is challenging and tests you in ways you anticipated and many more ways that you hadn't. Anyone will tell you this. The second year of business is filled with cautious optimism: you finally have something to compare against and get excited if you are doing a bit better than the year before. The third year in my story was navigating a global pandemic. Enough said. Now wrapping up year four I can say that it has felt perhaps the most rewarding of them all. As the world started to open up more and more, due in large part to the distribution of vaccines, we were excited to see familiar faces with more frequency and welcome new friends into the fold. As a management team we sought to be more creative. We were finally able to go to markets again, allowing us to adopt new brands and product lines, and we invested in fresh photography to capture our excitement for our new arrivals with the backdrop of the town we proudly call home. Everything we do is with our customers in mind, seeking to create an environment that makes you feel as comfortable shopping with us as you will feel in our cozy clothes. Looking forward once again, as we have the privilege to do because of customers like you, we are energized and inspired and ready for the next year ahead! Cheers!
Helping India Breathe Again
“As Covid-19 rages, India gasps for breath.” – Deccan Herald
Over the past few weeks I have been reading articles on the growing wave of Coronavirus in India and their desperate need for oxygen. Naïve me, I thought oxygen was an abundant resource, certainly not something that a hospital could fully run out of. But that has been the case in India. Over the past several weeks, with active caseloads over 3.5 million and broken medical supply chains, parts of India have become incredibly vulnerable. I have been heartbroken to read about the families desperately seeking concentrated oxygen to help their loved ones live another day, or that people were losing their lives just minutes before a delayed oxygen tanker could replenish a depleted hospital.
Navigating Coronavirus has been difficult for us all, with the uncertainty, stress and anxiety taking its toll on our minds and bodies for well over a year now. For me, Yoga was a major part of my survival strategy. The time I spent safely on my mat moving my body and connecting those movements to my breath created a sense of calm and control. It is just another reason why I have been so moved and called to action to do something to help the people of India. That the people living in the home of modern yoga are struggling to breathe, while the practice of Yoga has helped so many others connect to their breath, is hard to make sense of.
In reading more about India and the fundraising efforts many have put into motion I came across the group “Mission Oxygen.” They are an organization raising funds to donate Oxygen Concentrators to hospitals, nursing homes and medical care facilities. Together as a community, Irene Leigh will be donating a part of every sale made in the month of May to help support this initiative. If you would like to learn more about this organization, please go to the following link. If you can’t make it in the shop, and/or would be interested in making a private donation, every bit helps!
Link to Mission Oxygen donation page:
Learn more about India’s oxygen concentrator supply:
Learn more about the global implications of India’s Covid-19 crisis. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2021/04/india-covid-19-crisis/618691/
To quote Glennon Doyle “we can do hard things”.
This is not something I’d like to admit but my recycling habits needed an update. My mindset was if it looks vaguely recyclable, I might as well toss in in the recycling bin and hope the material can be reused. Turns out I’m not the only person who does this and there is a term for it called “wish-cycling.” It’s the mental pitfall when we don’t know what is or isn’t recyclable, so we feel better about it going to a plant rather than a landfill. In reality, it’s much worse for the recycling plant when we wish-cycle because the truly recyclable materials become contaminated and ultimately puts more stress on the recycling plants to operate smoothly.
When I re-examined my wish-cycling I saw that I needed to up my game to refine my recycling habits. I learned that plastic bags need to recycled separately and can be dropped off at a number or bag recycling sites including Price Chopper, Hannaford, and Wal-Mart. And that paper and cardboard need to be clean and dry to be considered recyclable.
At Irene Leigh our new merchandise can come in various types of plastic and paper packaging so we decided to use update our recycling system and put better practices in place. We began by making a mini recycling station sorting plastic bags, cardboard and paper including boxes and unused vendor tags. Luckily the packaging we receive is not very diverse in composition so that made it a simple jumping off point to practice our new recycling habits.
I was curious to know how much plastic and paper we could recycle. So, as we were ramping up to receive inventory for the busiest quarter of the year, we began measuring how much material we had by weighing the contents before dropping them off. From November-January we recycled 25 pounds of plastic bags, and 19 pounds of paper and cardboard.
I’m still honing my skill and have a lot to learn on the recycling front. At Irene Leigh we will continue to do the little things that might seem tedious if it means changing our minds for the better and learning a new skill to take home.
Click the link below to find plastic bag drop off stations in your zip code! https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/recycling-bags-and-wraps/find-drop-off-location/
If you’re curious about what IS recyclable click the link below to see guidelines for recycling in Saratoga County. https://www.saratoga.com/green/saratoga-recycling-centers/
We hope your find this helpful!
Post By: Shelby Moszkowicz
I was listening to a podcast the other morning and the host, in talking through her 5 biggest moments of 2020, happened to use the phase “Hindsight is 20:20.” Something we’ve all said hundreds of times, but it hits a little different this year for obvious and then even more obvious reasons. 2020 was unlike any year before it, and while we are all excited to shut that door firmly behind us, it’s worth taking whatever time needed to reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed and grown. Looking back, or hindsighting my own 2020, I came up with my list of 5 moments or milestones that stand out from the past year.
1) IL Anniversary Celebration: Valentine’s Day weekend is the date we celebrate the anniversary of Irene Leigh and this past year, to mark our second year in business, we went all out! The celebration included three days of three different kinds of fitness classes (pilates, yoga and barre,) sips and snacks, gift card giveaways, and a specialized coupon book with discounts to some of the best local fitness studios, eateries and more! It was energizing to see the turn out and visit with existing friends and customers and meet some new faces too! It turned out to be the last event we were able to host in our shop, but we look forward to safely sharing our space again in the future.
2) Covid Closure: Like most other local businesses, March 16th was the day we closed our doors following guidance from the state and local government to keep our customers and ourselves safe from Coronavirus. At the time we thought it would just be for two weeks, but that deadline got extended again and again. It was a scary time as we didn’t yet understand much about the virus, and also to be closed without any clarity on when we would be able to reopen or how we would pay bills in the meantime. Luckily our amazing local and country-wide community showed up for us. As we rushed to get all of our inventory on the website and send out emails and social media posts, customers near and far were choosing to shop small and spread the word to their networks. You saved us and I will be forever grateful.
3) Red Backpack Grant & Reopening: By Mid-May we were entering our 8th week of closure and my positivity tank was starting to run out. We’d flexed what retail magic we could, messaging sale and highlighting what new arrivals we were still able to receive. Government funding was still a bit of a question mark and the financial well was drying up. But then all of the sudden there was a glimmer of hope. An email popped into my in-box from the Global Giving Foundation announcing that our application had been chosen in the first round of recipients of the Red Backpack Foundation’s grant! Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, had started the Red Backpack Foundation as the charitable piece of her organization and because of the Covid-19 crisis, she pledged to donate $5,000 to 1,000 female founded businesses across the country. A longtime fan of Sara, I recorded a short video and submitted an application asking for the funding to help support the return of my staff once we were able to reopen.
This recognition, and the timing of it, meant the world to me. It was the wind back in my sails that I desperately needed to keep my dream and my business alive and moving forward. A few short weeks later our doors were able to re-open to the public, and again our community showed up. You respected and supported our safety policies and stopped in to shop or just check and see how we were managing through the pandemic. Seeing people again, masked face to masked face, was soul warming. People need people, that much has never been more clear to me. While it was not a typical summer in Saratoga Springs the sunshine started to melt our fears and give hope to the future.
4) My Brother’s Wedding: My brother met the love of his life and after a few years of dating proposed to her back in April 2019. They spent well over a year planning their perfect wedding day but in July 2020 it was made clear that Covid was not going anywhere and so their 200+ person dream wedding would have to be postponed. Having already had a long engagement, another year was going to be too long to exchange vows. So with a super small gathering of immediate family and closest friends my brother became a husband and I gained a sister-in-law on a sunny, windy September Saturday. I can say with the utmost certainty, I have never seen either of them happier. It was a day of smiles and laughter from the first mimosa to the very last toast. Again, a testament to the power of being around people; everyone in attendance was swept up in the love, pure joy and excitement that the bride and groom had for each other and the next phase of their journey together. I will always remember that strong and powerful wave of love and happiness we all felt on the beach that day.
5) Move to California: In my late twenties I was living in San Francisco and decided that the only good reasons to move again would be for the right job or for the right guy. Note that I was clear that it wasn’t just A job or A guy; I’d done that before and learned from it. Fast forward a few years later including two east coast moves for great career opportunities, and I found myself this fall packing my car to return to California for the right guy. Of course relocating 3,000 miles away from the best job I’ve ever had was a risk, but one I could only have made knowing that I was leaving the shop in the right hands. Enter Shelby, one of the kindest, most trustworthy, thoughtful and capable people I have met. It was good timing for both of us and our seamless partnership and her support all year long has been invaluable. Additional thanks go to my family, especially my Mom who road-tripped across the country with me. It was a once in a lifetime experience we will never forget; safely and respectfully driving through new states and photographing several western national parks. Now begins a new chapter of life living in Southern California and I’m so excited for everything to come!
Have you taken time to reflect on this past year? What are your top 5 2020 hindsight moments? Write it, post it, or simply just talk it out with friends or family, but I recommend doing it!
It’s with a grateful heart that I remember the past year and look forward to the next, wishing you all health and happiness.