Shop Girl: Ashley from Urban Gypsy

Why did you start Urban Gypsy?
I’ve been in the business for years and you reach a point where you build your confidence and you say, “I can do this!” You kind of want to project your sense of style and where you’ve been, and help others build their confidence and find their own style.

What do you love most about your job?
There’s no greater feeling than walking down the street and seeing someone rock an outfit that you have put on them. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have each one of my girls on the staff. You can’t get anywhere in life solo. I come up with some really crazy ideas whether its windows, events, volunteering, and they just kind of go with it.

How did you decide on Grandin Village for Urban Gypsy’s location?It was just this quaint neighborhood that I wanted to be part of, and I saw the potential of growth. It’s given me a sense of community. I love the people. It’s nice to just walk down the street, know practically everyone, and know they are rooting for you.

What is your favorite quote as a business owner?
“This too shall pass.” Whether it’s a trend that I cringe over or just a really bad day. My grandfather is my biggest inspiration, and maybe that’s where I get that from. He perseveres through every type of obstacle, and he has taught me strength.

What else inspires you?
I’m inspired by random acts of kindness. I take them as a sign that there is still humanity out there.

What are you excited about for fall?
Bright colors, sweater weather, and our redesigned website! This will be like a second store. There will be website exclusives that you can only get online, so be sure to check it out: www.urbangypsyva.com

Home Equity Basics from Member One

Your home improvement to-do list is a mile long, but you’re lacking the funds to get anything done. Sound familiar? Since the likelihood of stumbling upon a pot of gold is none, consider tapping into your home equity—the difference between what your property is worth and what you still owe on your mortgage. Read on to learn more about how to leverage your home’s hidden value.

Do the math. Home equity is calculated by looking at the value of your home and subtracting the amount you owe on any mortgages. Let’s say your home is valued at $200,000, and you owe $150,000 on your mortgage. That means you have $50,000 in equity you could potentially use to fund a renovation.

Know the difference. With a home equity loan, you receive the money you’re borrowing in a lump sum payment. It usually has a fixed rate and is often best for large, one-time expenses like a new roof. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) operates more like a credit card in that you can draw money as needed from an available maximum amount. This is best for ongoing expenses that require spending flexibility.

Shop around. You have to apply for a home equity loan or line of credit through a financial institution that offers it. As with any loan, shop around for the rate and features that fit your financial situation. It’s important to understand that committing to a home equity loan or line of credit means you’re using your home as collateral—if you don’t repay the loan, it could go into default, and you could risk losing your home. Make sure you understand the terms and only borrow the amount you can afford.

Budget accordingly. One of the most common ways to use a loan or line of credit is for renovations because they add even more value to your home. You can also use it for things you might not expect like college tuition, debt consolidation, or unexpected medical costs. Whatever you decide to fund, make sure it fits your budget. If your income is unstable and you can’t keep up with the payments, it’s probably not a good idea to incur more debt. If you don’t need to borrow much money or you’re just going to use this for basic day-to-day expenses, it might be wise to consider different options—such as a credit card—or reevaluate your spending habits.

A Good Cry by Nikki Giovanni

Poet, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni’s fiery, humorous, and reflective voice has long inspired artists, educated readers, and informed our national consciousness. Her newest poetry collection, A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter (October 24), is deeply personal and has been described as her most intimate collection. With selections like Surveillance, she recalls the violence that permeated her early years. She pays tribute to her grandparents in Baby West, and examines the history of the objects we treasure in Heritage. A Good Cry observes and celebrates the depth of emotions that accompany the trials and triumphs we face in life.

Giovanni believes that it is important that we learn to cry and laugh. In a time when there are so many things to distract us from feeling anything right at our fingertips, we often lose the opportunity to learn from what we feel and move forward together.

“Americans don’t cry,” she explains. “Your mother will die and someone will say, ‘It will be all right.’ But it won’t be. Man or woman, black or white, you are sad and your heart got broken. You should be able to cry. We have to allow ourselves to face that pain and embrace it. Embrace the people whom we love and the people with whom we feel we can share. You get tired of people saying, ‘I’m really strong, so it doesn’t matter.’ All of our emotions matter.”

Writing about circumstances involving other people can be a tricky situation. In Surveillance, Giovanni’s mother expresses her wish for what goes on in their house to stay in their house. Finding the courage to write about that part of her life in such an open and honest way was not easy.

“I could not have written that line fifty years ago. Mommy was more interested in how she and our family were viewed. I frankly don’t care. I know I should do better, but I don’t care what people are thinking about me,” she says.

“It’s important to me that my grandmother would be proud of me if she came down from heaven,” she adds. “If mommy came down from heaven, she would say, ‘You’re exposing some of us, but it’s all right because I love you.’ It’s not important how people look at us,” she adds.

Ultimately, caring what people think about your work as a writer or artist can limit your impact. Of course, the longer you practice your art, the more chances your work has to show contradictions. For Giovanni, this is an indication of growth.

To her students, she often says, “If you’re going to be a writer or a painter, there is always going to be some contradiction in your work. If you’re always doing the same thing, you haven’t learned anything. You’re going to learn something, and you have to be willing to embrace that fact.”

A lot of meaningful work is done when you give yourself over to the joy of sharing and thinking with other people. Over the span of thirty years, Giovanni’s career has been a living testament to that idea. She wants to do good work in all of her roles, and sees that as her responsibility. The result is a unique collection that pays tribute to those who have held a special place in her life, and the reality of her own experiences—both good and bad.

“If you’re not writing, you don’t know something,” she states. “You need to go study. I’m not a novelist or a playwright. I don’t write every day, but I do read every day. I take notes sometimes. I recently pulled over to the side of the road, put my blinkers on, and wrote a poem because I could see the rhythm of a wonderful jazz piece I was listening to. I don’t put pressure on myself, but I do consider what I have learned and how I will share it.”

A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter will be available for purchase on October 24. For more information on where to purchase Giovanni’s work, visit www.nikki-giovanni.com.

 

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Heart to Heart Conversations in Roanoke

This November the Heart to Heart: Conversations on Loving our LGBTQ Neighbors and Strengthening our Faith will be holding a series of discussions in the Roanoke area. These conversations will feature the internationally known speaker, author, and spiritual director, Susan Cottrell. Susan is a wife and mother to five children, two of whom are members of the LGBTQI community, and author of Mom, I’m Gay! Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith and True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. She has also founded the organization, www.freedhearts.org, a nonprofit that aims to address LGBTQI issues theologically and religiously. Having recently been featured on ABC’S 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, Susan is a firm believer that the foundation of faith is based upon one’s love for God and all others.

The main purpose behind the Heart to Heart conversations is to create and promote serious discussion and support for the LGBTQ community. What once started as a one-day event, has now turned into a week-long series of events to promote discussion, love, and understanding. Among many topics discussed, some of the most prominent include curiosity and difficulty with sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith. The Heart to Heart events will be held November 8-12 with the main event, the Heart to Heart Conference, occurring November 11, 9am-2pm at the Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke. A schedule of these events may be found at www.hearttoheartva.com. Most of these events, unless stated otherwise, are free and open to the public.

Donations can be made to the Heart to Heart foundation online at www.donate.hearttoheartva.com or checks can be made payable to the Roanoke Diversity Center and mailed to 806 Jamison Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24013. All donations will go towards funding for these conversations that deepen our love and support for the LGBTQ community and featuring authors and leaders, such as Susan Cottrell.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

Save Smarter: Avoid Financial Scams

Being a victim of fraud can be devastating. It’s not just the loss of someone’s hard-earned money that makes it so upsetting; it’s also the breach of one’s privacy and personal information. Here are some common scam tactics and ways to protect yourself and your money.

Skimming devices. These typically appear on gas pumps or ATMs and capture information from the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards. One way to protect your information is to check for obvious signs of tampering like an open or broken box, different color material, or graphics that aren’t aligned correctly. Avoid anything that seems questionable. Another tactic is to go inside a building to pay or withdraw money. Criminals need privacy to install skimmers and are less likely to do so if they can be easily seen.

Fake checks. Criminals will attempt to cheat you out of thousands of dollars by writing you a check for more than is due or claiming you’ve won prize money. You’re then asked to deposit the check and return part of the money. The trick? This is a bad check, and you’re now liable for all the money withdrawn from your account. As a rule of thumb, don’t accept checks or money orders as forms of payment from people you don’t know. Stick to cash or payment services like PayPal or Venmo.

Romance scams. In this scam, criminals use a dating service, online ad, or social media to establish a relationship as quickly as possible. After the criminal gains the victim’s trust, they could propose marriage, make plans to meet in person (which rarely happens), and eventually ask for money. To avoid this scam, be wary of who you communicate with online, especially those you haven’t met in person. Never give out your account information to anyone online or over the phone, no matter how legitimate it may seem.

Synthetic identity theft. This type of fraud is accomplished by combining real and fake information to create a fictitious identity. Typically, the criminal will use a social security number (SSN) and pair it with a fake name then use this to obtain credit, open deposit accounts, and obtain driver’s licenses and passports. To protect your identity, don’t carry your social security card unless you really need it. Keep any paperwork that contains your SSN in a safe place and shred any unnecessary documents that contain the number.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Meet Erica Snipes of Imagination Station!

When did you decide to start working for Imagination Station?
I needed a fun part-time job, and I have a twelve-year-old so we spent a lot of time in the toy store in Blacksburg. The owner put up a notice and said she was looking for help, so I decided that was a sign! Then, about half a year after I started working for them we decided we were going to move to Roanoke so my daughter could go to school here. The owner asked if I wanted to manage a toy store in Roanoke if they opened one. I thought about it, and a couple months later I said I would do it.

What is one important lesson that you’ve learned along the way as a manager?
Unlike some other retail businesses, you are growing up with the families and the kids. Establishing a relationship is really important. We are more than a place to come and shop. Upstairs we have a room that has toys, games, and books that we call our “chill out” room. You can just hang out; you don’t have to buy something. Go to Cups, grab a coffee, and bring your kids here.

With the technology we have available, why is this type of imaginative play still so important?
We are passionate about helping parents, caregivers, and teachers find ways to keep children engaged. With the advent of technology, it is so easy for all of us as caregivers to just hand over the cell phone or the iPad. There needs to be more tactile person-to-person play. For example, building blocks used to be the core of play. Everybody had building blocks, but people don’t really buy them anymore because they have so many pieces. They say their child doesn’t really know what to do with them. However, they need to be bored and build something because it helps with learning physics, gravity, and trial and error.

Find Imagination Station at www.imaginationstoys.com.

Giving Back: Craftsmen’s Classic

The Craftsmen’s Classic Show at the Berglund Center is the second largest food drive all year for Feeding America Southwest Virginia. The event will take place October 13-15, and offers free admission with a food donation. In years past, the event has brought in thousands of pounds of food for the area. Food banks like Feeding America Southwest Virginia are essential to our community. According to www.faswva.org, “The USDA estimates that 42.2 Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.”

Without that knowledge, it is difficult to imagine that so many of your neighbors could be going hungry. This makes holding donations for admission to events like the Craftsmen’s Classic Show an integral part of helping meet the nutritional needs of families in Southwest Virginia.

In addition to helping out local families, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping and support artisans at a time of year when every penny counts for small businesses. Nine Craftsmen’s Classics are held annually and throughout the year in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Gilmore Enterprises, Inc. takes producing each event seriously. Every show contains a careful balance of traditional and contemporary works. Ultimately, hundreds of artists and craftsmen from over 20 states are featured. They are juried and selected for originality and creative excellence.

Because these qualities are so important, there is something for everyone at this event. Enjoy new exhibitors and familiar favorites as you browse pottery, fine art, glass, jewelry, baskets, weaving, clothing, furniture, sculpture, photography, wood, and more! The event will also include specialty foods. All items are made by the participating artists and craftsmen. You won’t find any of these items in the “big box” retail stores. Many exhibitors even welcome requests for custom work, allowing them to explore their creativity to create a personalized gift for you or your loved one. Between collectibles, home accessories, and personal treasures for all ages, you have an opportunity to find something for everyone on your list!

Visit www.craftshow.com for more information on this event! We look forward to seeing you there!

Support the Arts in October!

We love all of the local talent showcased this month! Check out a couple of our favorite events below, and share your photos at those events with us on Facebook!

The Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School will open at 6:30pm on Friday, October 13. The show will continue through the weekend, allowing those in attendance to enjoy refreshments as they peruse the potters’ latest works and shop for holiday gifts at more than 50 booths. The largest all-pottery show in Virginia will be open Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Demonstrations for adults and kids will be held throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. A favorite feature for both participants and customers is the Gallery. This year’s theme is “The Garden.” The Gallery is open to all Guild members to enter a piece based upon their interpretation of the theme. A wide range of work will be available at this event as more than 70 Blue Ridge Pottery Guild members are expected to participate! Visit www.blueridgepotters.com for more information.

The 42nd season of Opera Roanoke opens with a new production of Tosca on October 27 at 7:30pm and October 29 at 3pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. The show features a cast of Opera Roanoke returning favorites including Dinyar Vania (La Traviata ’16), Thomas Cannon (Madama Butterfly ’11), and Emily Johnson (Falstaff ’08). This Puccini selection is riveting and perfect for Halloween weekend. When romance and politics mix, the result is a thrilling melodrama focused on the haunting aftermath of jealousy, sabotage, and betrayal. To purchase tickets, visit www.operaroanoke.org.

The regional magazine for women