The Hottest Accessory at This Kids Fashion Show? Self Confidence.

Often the one thing holding our daughters back from achieving their dreams is poor self-esteem.

It’s an issue Rainie Howard and Kristee Ruffin know all too well. As sisters raised in a single-parent household, the two identified with many of the challenges facing today’s young girls, but found opportunities to overcome their barriers. Once the sisters grew into successful businesswomen, they wanted to explore ways to reach out to girls who feel undervalued and unappreciated. To give them the confidence and self-assurance they need to achieve the incredible.

“Building a solid foundation of self-confidence is very important at an early age because it will determine whether or not a child believes in herself, which will ultimately shape, create and mold her future,” explained Howard via email. “Self-confidence is a determining factor in many areas of life, including how one does in education, relationships, careers and so much more.”

In 2008, the sisters launched Sisters of Hope Inc., a nonprofit focused on empowering and supporting girls and women through social, professional and educational development. And on June 26, the organization will celebrate the achievements of those they serve with its Pink and Purple Fashion Show at the Missouri History Museum.

A creative confidence booster

Sisters of Hope doesn’t focus on traditional support groups and workshops, but instead, offers esteem enrichment programs through age-appropriate activities girls love, such as spa retreats, play dates and art classes. Programs are held at YMCA’s, school, churches and community centers throughout the metro area, and women in the community are invited to start a program at their own site location.

Girls ages four through nine, for instance, can take part in a “Pretty Princesses” tea party. According to Howard who serves as the Sisters of Hope CEO, “Girls learn etiquette skills through participation in dining and drinking tea and build self-confidence by joining in speaking and karaoke activities that encourage and motivate them to be more confident. At the end of the workshop, girls can walk the runway and model in a photo shoot.”

Activities vary by age, and by the time the girls are 14 years old, they can participate in Sisters of Hope’s Fashion Club, a program that enables them to express their creativity through fashion and let their inner and outer beauty shine.

Each participant spends several months learning about the importance of self-esteem, etiquette, nutrition and health, public speaking, and image reputation, as well as in the ins and outs of fashion design and modeling. Sisters of Hope partners with shopping malls and department stores each semester to sponsor a fashion show for the participants, culminating in the annual Pink and Purple Fashion Show – its biggest event of the year.

The second annual Pink and Purple Fashion Show will be held on Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum’s Lee Auditorium. For a $10 admission, you can catch Sisters of Hope participants strut the catwalk in their own fashion creations and those of a local designer. In addition, the event features visual art, musical acts and spoken word performances.

A fashion show might not seem like the best esteem booster, considering the fashion industry’s notorious unattainable body images, but Howard insists the positive aspects – style, poise and self-expression - can be beneficial to today’s girls.

“Sisters of Hope Fashion Club programs and fashion shows emphasize confidence and personality,” she remarked. “It doesn’t matter what size you are or how you look on the outside, but rather how confident, bold and positive you are on the inside. We constantly encourage girls to smile, avoid being shy, but be courageous and hold their heads up as they walk the runway. Our models are not just common fashion models – they are ‘role models.’ From ages 4-18, they set the example of a successful young lady.”

To learn more about Sisters of Hope or the Pink and Purple Fashion show, visit or call 314-368-5380.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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