Female empowerment takes the runway

Female empowerment takes the runway
Jo-Ann Lefner, owner of Bella By The Sea, plans to showcase bold colors, beachy accessories and what it’s like to be a female business owner during the Passion for Fashion Show benefiting The Center of Anna Maria Island. - Kristin Swain | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – Come out to The Center of Anna Maria Island on Thursday, April 11 to see the hottest new fashions for women, men and kids, and support a good cause.

The first-ever Passion for Fashion Show will take center stage beginning at 11 a.m. The event will feature an elegant luncheon by culinary master A.J. Loft of The Loft 5, along with champagne and live steel drum music. Models will strut down the runway wearing the latest in spring and summer styles for women, men and children from Pine Avenue boutiques Bella By The Sea and Pink & Navy. There also will be a silent auction and Barbara Zdravecky will give a talk about her passion for women in business and female empowerment. The event also serves as a way to honor local businessmen Ed Chiles and Mike Thrasher for their work to help revitalize Pine Avenue and The Center while also encouraging local businesses to “go green.”

Pink & Navy owner Amy Fleece said the event has taken almost a year to come together. One of the things she’s most excited about, she said, is the opportunity to support The Center while also spotlighting some of the many female Island business owners and encouraging other women to pursue their passion and goals.

“There are so many women business owners on Pine, which is really neat,” she said.

Bella By The Sea owner Jo-Ann Lefner said that it’s very important for her and the other co-chairs of the event, Fleece, Leigh Thrasher and Karen Harllee, to not only showcase the female-led businesses on the Island and Pine Avenue in particular, but also to shed light on the programs available to the community at The Center.

In asking for silent auction items, Lefner said the goal was to create an “adventure” for the winners. Some of the items up for grabs include a party for 20 people at Bella By The Sea and Pink & Navy, a wine and cheese pairing lesson at Olive Oil Outpost, a luncheon hosted at Shiny Fish Emporium and a makeover at Salon Salon.

“We didn’t just want to do gift certificates,” Lefner said. She added that when asked, local business owners jumped on board to help create the experiences for the silent auction items.

Female empowerment takes the runway
Amy Fleece, owner of Pink & Navy Boutique on Pine Avenue, is joining fellow businesswoman Jo-Ann Lefner in hosting the Passion for Fashion Show at The Center. – Kristin Swain | Sun

The models taking the runway for Bella By The Sea will be showing off the latest in bold colors, particularly yellows and mustards, which Lefner said are very popular this season. She said people can also expect to see great beach hats and bags.

“You’re going to be seeing a full range from sportswear right up to dressy items,” she said.

From Pink & Navy, Fleece said people can expect to see spring and summer styles, including beachwear, for women, children and men. Everything from swimsuits to casual wear and more dressy clothes will be on display. Fleece said to expect lots of bold prints, florals and stripes.

“I want everyone to know that there’s fashion out there to feel good about yourself in, no matter what your size, your age or anything,” she said.

Each attendee will receive a swag bag full of goodies at the end of the show. All proceeds go to help fund The Center’s programs.

Tickets are going fast at $40 each and can be purchased at The Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Sponsorships are available. For more information, call 941-778-1908.