One of our favorite things about Philadelphia is meeting so many talented and hard-working people who are artists in their field. It is a double win when that talent is put to good use to help the others in the community. Every year, right around this time, we start getting excited for the City of Hope Philadelphia’s Women’s Cancer Walk. We love meeting the volunteers, team captains and people behind the scenes working hard to fight breast and women’s cancer. This year, we got a special surprise when we were introduced to two special women that went from budding entrepreneurs, to jewelry designers, to champions for a cause. Read about their journey during our first tease for the Women’s Cancer Walk on Saturday, September 13, 2014. Registration is open now (click here).
Every year, we support and help City of Hope spread the word about their major 5K walk (as well as their other line-up of fun activities). As we started to organize our blog stories for this year we met two stylish and dedicated women that had an amazing story to share. Suzie Meller and Susan McCaffery (Alex Jade Jewelry) started a jewelry company in 2010 called Haute Wheels. The two friends personally curated the collection that would be sold at private parties, special events and ultimately online. While their new adventure started to take off, they hit a very personal snag that put a hault on their new enterprise. Suzie’s daughter, Karli (only 14 years old) was diagnosed with cancer. While the business took a break for a short time, the two women’s journey provided hope for themselves and their families as they became champions for a cause. Out of the process “Jewelry for a Journey” was born!
Suzie and Susan told us that Karli wasn’t giving up – she had a positive attitude, energy to keep fighting and she always was looking forward. She wasn’t letting her diagnosis stop her from living life – and energy and attitude was contagious. Her mom and Susan used Karli’s attitude and motto “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and went on to found Jewelry for a Journey. This time, instead of curating the jewelry, the dynamic duo started to design an original collection that would support charities that are near and dear to their hearts.
The inspiration for the new collection came during a rough time when Suzie was looking for a symbol that she could turn to in the hard times. “I wanted to get a tattoo but it didn’t work out and didn’t feel right,” she said. She, along with Susan, then developed their first fashion forward piece that was both stylish and that they could use to keep positive. The new jewelry would help them move past their struggles, and remind them to keep looking forward.
As the two developed their collection they decided that “everyone is affected by something” and that their jewelry would not only serve as a mental reminder to stay strong, but each piece would give back to a charity. The collection developed featuring sterling silver, gold plated – and our favorite, rose gold. Interchangeable colors and slogans are available to help each person personalize their jewelry to help with their own journey. The new pieces found their way back California and into the hands of a representative for City of Hope who was in need of a personal boost of hope. From there, the relationship has blossomed. “My partner Susan and I also felt there was a need to design a line of jewelry to reflect all cancer colors in a fashion forward way. So, in a nutshell that is the story behind our line,” said Suzie.
Today, Karlihas finished her treatments and has been declared “cancer free.” Suzie, Susan and Karli together are advocates for a number of great causes – including City of Hope Philadelphia office. Karli, who is now in remission, works to inspire other young people and helps give them hope in their journeys. Suzie and Susan are busy preparing a number of dazzling new pieces for the fall and they will start to sell pieces in local stores. In advance of these new developments, they have announced that City of Hope will be one of several key charities benefiting from sales. When you visit the website (click here), you can design your own necklaces and bracelets then select “City of Hope” from the drop down. Every purchase gives another child, another daughter, another mom hope through City of Hope’s important work.
For a preview, check out these beautiful designs below – and the next time you are challenged – take inspiration from this special story. Look ahead and don’t sweat the small stuff. Karli, Suzie and Susan certainly aren’t. Thanks to City of Hope for the introduction. Buy a piece today online and look for these lovely ladies at the Women’s Cancer Walk.
Disclosure: Philly Loves Fun is an official paid blog partner for City of Hope Philadelphia.