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Sisters On The Runway UMASS: Interview With Alissar Taremi


In 2005, Montclair High School (in Montclair, NJ) sophomores Liz Eddy, Gabriela Graham, and Juliana Colangelo put on the Sisters on the Runway fashion show, an event that raises money for a local domestic shelter. Fast forward to 2011 and two more Sisters on the Runway divisions have been created at the New School and UMASS Amherst. I was lucky enough to get the inside scoop on this brand new chapter from President and fellow classmate Alissar Taremi:

Sophie: How did you come up with the idea to start Sisters on the Runway UMASS?

Alissar: My Co-President, Kaelyn Siversky and I both attended Montclair High School where we participated and attended the annual event. I had always loved the idea of Sisters on the Runway and was passionate about bringing it to the UMass campus. 

Sophie: What do you want people to know about Sisters on the Runway UMASS?

Alissar: Sisters on the Runway aims to raise awareness about domestic violence and money for our local shelters. We are working with Safe Passage in Northampton, MA. We will donate all the proceeds from the fashion show to Safe Passage. Our event will take place on the UMass Amherst campus this upcoming April and will be open to the public. We will be displaying local boutique and student designs, as well as various top designer brands that are willing to support the event and cause.

One in four women are affected by domestic violence in every community, age, gender and race. This problem does not get enough support or recognition. The organization has raised over $50,000 for local domestic violence shelters in New Jersey and New York in the last 5 years. The event has begun to expand to the collegiate level including the New School, and its newest branch at the UMass!

We have gotten over 200 emails with extremely motivated and dedicated students interested in being involved and helping in any way that they can. We have also gotten over 550 Facebook likes in just over two months! Check out our Facebook page: Sister’s on the Runway-UMass Division for more information and to see pictures from past events.

Sophie: What are you most excited about with starting this club? What are your ultimate goals?

Alissar: I am most excited about putting together this fantastic event that will provide a fun, ‘fashion-night-out’ to college students and the Amherst community while fund-raising and supporting woman and children in need. My ultimate goal is help improve local domestic violence shelters, while involving the community and making the issue of domestic violence more publically known. 

We want to ingrain ourselves as a club into the community rather than just being an on campus organization. I also want to one day see the event hosted at the Mullins Center at UMass, where thousands of people will attend. We would also like to make the event large enough to host an apparel and accessory trade show prior to the event where vendors can set up, and people can shop before the fashion show.

Sophie: How hard was it to make Sisters on the Runway an established chapter at UMASS?

Alissar: People think becoming an RSO (Registered Student Organization) is a much bigger process than it actually is. I have found that the UMass campus provides plenty of support to help make student clubs and organizations established. There were several online and classroom training courses that Kaelyn, our treasurer, press officer, secretary and myself had to attend to learn how to manage an RSO, learn how to write grants, and specific trainings for Marketing. Overall, the process takes time, planning and organization but it wasn’t a difficult process. There are many benefits to being an RSO. Sisters on the Runway is officially recognized by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Sophie: Why do you think that Mount Holyoke and other 5 College Students should join Sisters on the Runway UMASS?

Alissar: Mount Holyoke and other 5 College Students should definitely join Sisters on the Runway-UMass Division to make a difference in the pioneer valley. It’s also a great way to make friends, meet new people and participate in the planning and attendance of a student run fashion show. 

Get dressed up, bring your friends and make a night out of this event. Sisters on the Runway will commence in April will be a fabulous fashion show you won’t want to miss! If you want to get involved check out the Sisters on the Runway UMASS Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sisters-On-the-Runway-UMass-Divison/147543855289861

Sophie Jasinski is a sophomore English major and Arts and Society minor at Mount Holyoke College. Originally from North Jersey, she spends most of her time in New York City. When Sophie isn’t studying in the library she loves to dance ballet, drink chai lattes, dig through vintage clothes, hang out with friends, and play tennis. Sophie is also a staff writer for the Mount Holyoke News. Last summer, Sophie interned with Donna Karan and hopes to intern for a fashion magazine in New York this summer. Sophie aspires to be the next Anna Wintour. Watch out world!!
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