This post was written by Ana, long time member of the YLF forum.
I sat in the dimly lit restaurant listening to the chatter of the ladies around me. Absent mindedly, I chewed my lip. The beautifully wrapped gift sat at the other end of the long table. In a few minutes I was going to present it to Angie, and I still had no idea what to say. What words would adequately express the gratitude and fondness I, and many other women from the YouLookFab forum, had for her? How could I thank her for creating an online community that is supportive and friendly and goes beyond merely deciding what to put on in the morning? Through YouLookFab I had met so many wonderful women and started relationships off the forum that enrich my life on a daily basis.
It was during one of these “offline” conversations that a few of us hit on the idea of trying to do something for Angie in return. Laura (laura65) sent an e-mail to me and other members Tanya, Inge, and Sandy (san) in October and we began brainstorming a list of forum members who might like to participate. We knew we could only contact a small fraction of the overall community, but we felt that the gesture would reflect the sentiment of many others. After we had a master list together, we divided it up and sent members a private message on the forum, detailing our idea and inviting them to contribute.
The response was overwhelming!
Almost all of the women we contacted were eager to help and many said they had wanted to do something similar but didn’t know how to go about it. We set a deadline for December 1. Our goal was lofty—everyone agreed that the Valentino petal satchel (that Angie had listed as her dream bag) must somehow be hers.
Laura kept us updated on the running total as the deadline approached and the contributions poured in. By December 1 we were getting there, but still short of the price of the bag. YLF member Patience suggested we call Nordstrom and see if they could do anything for us. Sandy took it upon herself to do this, working her way up the management chain through a series of phone calls and finally speaking with the manager of the handbag department, who offered to sell it to us for a price within the amount of money we had collected! Sandy picked it up and had it wrapped just days before we planned on presenting the gift. Included with the bag was a gorgeous booklet that long time YLF member Maya had designed and hand-made containing sentiments from the women who had donated.
The next order of business was deciding how to present the gift. I knew I just had to be there when Angie received her bag. I was planning a cross-country road trip to Idaho from Texas for the Christmas holiday, and Seattle is just one day’s drive beyond that. I e-mailed forum member and Angie’s friend, Antje, who had organized a previous Seattle YouLookFab gathering. She jumped at the chance to put something together. To avoid arousing suspicion, we used my visit as an excuse for a dinner. With Greg’s input, Antje booked a private room at a restaurant in downtown Seattle, and invited Angie and local forum members who had contributed to the gift.
As the ladies arrived lots of hugging and laughter took place. I felt like I had met them all before, even though it was the first time I had even seen some of their faces. We settled down into our seats and I stood and thanked everyone for coming and explained how incredibly excited I was to be there and meet them all. I thanked Angie for creating such a welcoming and special community on YouLookFab, and that even though we couldn’t ever begin to repay her for all the work she and Greg put in, we wanted to try and do something for her to show our appreciation.
We all sat with anticipation as Angie slowly opened her gift. She loved the wrapping and pointed out that it was apple green and pink—YLF colors. She got the wrapping off and noticed the box was from Nordstrom. “Oh, it’s from a good store,” she joked. She took the lid off the box and said, “Oh, tissue paper, thank you!” and we all laughed. She looked down at the red dust bag and paused. She reached down and touched it, then gasped and covered her mouth with both hands. “You DIDN’T!” She opened the dust bag and peeked inside. “I’m finished,” she said and began tearing up. “I’m gobsmacked… I don’t even know what to say.”
After Angie had wiped away her joyful tears, read the booklet and regained her composure, she wanted to know all the details that went into her surprise. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and filling everyone in on the story.
I still can’t believe we pulled the whole thing off. It was really a group effort, and the response from the women we messaged was amazing! YouLookFab is truly a fabulous place full of wonderful, kind and selfless women. Thank you Angie and Greg for putting in the time and effort you do. Angie—enjoy your bag, and when you carry it, we hope you’ll think of us.
Well, I’m no longer speechless, but words still won’t completely express my gratitude for your thoughtfulness and generosity. I was emotionally overwhelmed for days upon the receipt of this gift and it still feels surreal. I would never, ever have treated myself to a Valentino handbag, so you are the only reason I am sporting it right now. To me this is so much more than a material possession. It represents the love and kindness of the entire YLF community. I shall cherish my exquisite Valentino handbag for the rest of my life, and proudly carry it with your affectionate sentiments engraved deeply into my heart. —Angie