Early in 2014, Staci Rutherford, the daughter of a TTP patient, reached out the Answering TTP Foundation to share her mother’s story of TTP and her idea of how she could make a difference in the TTP community moving forward.
Below is Staci’s story of how and why she has decided to get involved!
Joanie Totes: Raising TTP Awareness…one bag at a time™
Last spring, almost a week after Mother’s Day, my mother, who I affectionately called “Joanie”, was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune blood disorder, ThromboticThrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP). She spent the entire summer in the hospital, undergoing treatment but, unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse.
The service we had for Joanie was a joyous celebration of her life. Family and friends shared stories of how "fancy and fabulous" Joanie was. She always had extraordinary taste. Everyone laughed while quietly reminiscing on their own memories of Joanie. Joanie traveled and shopped around the world, and made friends everywhere she went. Her beautiful smile and spirit could light up a room. I knew from the moment I was introduced to the Answering TTP Foundation that I wanted get involved to help raise awareness. While grieving the devastating, unexpected loss of my mother, I began brainstorming on what I could do to honor her.It had to be something that truly represented Joanie.
Joanie and I both loved accessories, specifically, statement jewelry, scarves, and handbags. I grew up shopping in her closet, so naturally I had began my own collection of handbags and accessories, which eventually turned into a business. With a modest investment from Joanie, I started HandbagReport.com, an online store, and later, added a blog to report handbag trends and designers. Joanie was always my #1 supporter - we threw purse parties, traveled to trade shows and picked our favorite bags each month from the latest fashion magazines.
One day, I had an “a-ha moment” and decided to create a line of handbags, Joanie Totes, in memory of Joanie, that would also raise awareness about TTP. As my concept for Joanie Totes took shape, I came across the work of an incredibly talented fashion illustrator, Jennifer Lilya. When I discovered her client list included Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Sephora, I felt an instant connection because those were Joanie’s favorite stores. I knew she would be the perfect person to bring my vision for Joanie Totes to life. Once Jennifer and I designed the first Joanie Tote, it was manufactured in Los Angeles’ fashion district.
The ‘Be Fancy & Fabulous’ Joanie Tote was launched on March 25, 2014, six months after Joanie went to paradise. The mission of Joanie Totes is to raise TTP awareness…one bag at a time. On the 25th of every month, I honor Joanie and donate a portion of the sales to the Answering TTP Foundation to benefit patient support, education and research. I am dedicated to helping the TTP community. I also hope to inspire others to get involved and make a difference. There is a huge sense of accomplishment in bringing my Joanie Totes idea to fruition. Not only has it been a form of therapy, it supports a cause that is extremely close to my heart. I am planning to design several new styles each season, with hopes of eventually expanding the line to other accessories.
The ‘Be Fancy & Fabulous’ Joanie Tote is available at www.shop.handbagreport.com