Last week, moms tweeted, linked, and blogged in real time from NOVALive, a networking and charity event held at Fairfax Corner’s upscale consignment boutique, Chic Envy.
The non-profit division of Let Mommy Sleep, Mission Sleep provides free, overnight newborn care to moms whose husbands are deployed or wounded warriors. Let Mommy Sleep owner and Bristow resident Denise Stern felt it was important to offer the support of registered and licensed practical nurses to this special group of new moms.
“I wish we didn’t have to charge [for Let Mommy Sleep] and could provide it to every parent who needs it,” Stern, mother of three children under the age of 4, said. She partners with Walter Reed Medical Center to identify military wives who need a helping hand after their babies are born.
“Having raised [children] myself, I know how difficult the newborn phase is,” Williamson said. “So I thought it was a great cause to support.”
Khoury agreed. “It’s a good organization, it’s local, and it’s new. It just needed some PR to get it off the ground.”
In addition to raising almost $800 for Mission Sleep through event registration fees and raffle tickets, NOVALive gave local mom bloggers the opportunity to interact in person.
Blogger Khoury, of Real Housewives of Northern Virginia, explained, “We wanted to increase the network of women. A lot of us share the same content: events, information, general resources for women in northern Virginia. We’re able to partner and connect, so there’s no competition in the blogger world.” Her blog offers "community happenings, giveaways, and gossip".
“We interact online so much that that we never put a face to a name,” said Williamson of SuperNOVAmommy. “It’s nice to meet in person because online we support each other’s causes and help create each other’s fan bases through social media networking.”
Her site offers a calendar listing local free and cheap children's events. In addition, she posts interviews with mom entrepreneurs, descriptions of fun venues in the Northern Virginia area, and tips from other mom bloggers.
Local businesses donated refreshments and giveaways to the event. Meanwhile, Chic Envy offered a discount on their diverse selection of consigned upscale fashions.
Christina Crawford, co-owner of Chic Envy with her daughter Rhianna Dollar, was more than happy to share her store for NOVALive. She said, “This is another way for us to do something for the community.” A military spouse herself, she loves the idea behind Mission Sleep.
Chic Envy opened 2.5 years ago when Crawford’s daughter graduated from college. The women both loved clothes, shoes, and handbags and thought a consignment shop, where clothing is reused, was a green alternative to the typical store. They were also excited to create jobs in the community. The mom and daughter team looks forward to opening another store in Gainesville by the end of the year.
Williamson and Khoury were grateful to the area businesses who donated products for the giveaways and swag bags, including a $400 gift package from in Fairfax Corner and a bread basket from in Burke. Attendees were encouraged to tweet or blog about the products and services they liked. Lost Creek Winery in Leesburg poured samples of their wines while bloggers nibbled on custom-made cookies from J and J Bakeshop, cupcakes from the Sweetest Soiree, and cake pops from Simply Desserts.
Sales representatives from AT&T, an event sponsor, highlighted the growing demand for data services via handheld devices and gave away prizes such as Bluetooth headphones, battery chargers and a much-coveted iPad.
Of the almost fifty attendees, bloggers ranged from moms with newer sites to more experienced writers with large fan bases. DeLise Bernard’s blog, Our Life Memories, will turn a year old in March. She details daily adventures with her two children, ages 4 and 1, in D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland, and reviews each kid-friendly venue they explore.
“[I wanted] a space that they could look to later for the memories we created when they were children,” Bernard explained. She also compiles “kidtineraries” for families visiting the area or local moms who are too busy to scour the internet for fun activities.
She appreciated NOVALive as an opportunity to learn from the veteran bloggers and to use her blog to support the community.
Herndon mom blogger Liz Jones created Dulles Moms two years ago. Her site helps families in the Dulles area stay informed about events and activities.
“Instead of going to multiple sites to figure out what’s going on, they can come to one site and have a comprehensive list of opportunities,” Jones said. Each month, Jones lists 1,500 events in the Dulles area and nets about 40,000 visitors to her site.
She enjoyed chatting with other bloggers at NOVALive.
“We can really benefit each other in a lot of ways,” she said. “I have a lot of people that come to me for advertisements, or for contests, or for blogging opportunities and I can share that with a neighboring site and really expand the coverage.”
“The event was a huge success,” Williamson reported. “We were thrilled to be able to raise awareness about this great cause [Mission Sleep]. We had a magical night networking with other DC area bloggers.”
Visit the Mission Sleep website to learn more or to donate.