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Glitz, Glamour and Furs…Oh my!

Glitz, Glamour and Furs…Oh my! 4.50/5 4 votes

Oscar Experience Night 2014-Phoenix_oh My_300The residents of the valley rocked the red carpet this weekend at the 2014 Oscar Experience black tie event hosted at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix.  Dressed in sequined gowns and arriving in limos as they entered the event looking like Hollywood movie stars. Glitz, Glamour and Furs…Oh my!

The Oscar Experience evening was elegant and fun filled.  Rolf’s Salon style lounge was there to ensure that everyone was ready for their close-ups.  The event was attended by Phoenix’s A-listers. ABC15 was the television partner for the evening and ABC news anchor Connie Colla was the hostess of the evening.  Connie rocked the podium in a hot pink evening gown and Hollywood vintage inspired hair.

More exclusive photos on Facebook  facebook

There were some fun things for the attendee’s of this year’s Oscar Experience such as Rolf’s styling salon where the women could get their hair and makeup touched up.  Oscar Experience Night 2014-Phoenix_Connie Colla_300Once camera ready they could try on gorgeous vintage style furs so that they could have their picture taken at the SmartFem Social Media lounge which was sponsored by Evans Fine Furs and Leathers. Among the generous donations were Michelle Parkhurst of Evans Furs and Coye Pointer of Fiat of Scottsdale.

Attendees were able to watch the live Oscar show on big screens and during intermission we were entertained by young dancers featuring dance numbers from some of Hollywood’s best musicals. Although the glamour and lure of tinsel town is always abundant on this evening it was the gallant speech of young Logan Boles, 2014 Juvenile honoree who touched us with his story.

The evening was that of a fairy tale as the women in their beautiful ball gowns gathered together to support the Arthritis Foundation as well as view the nominated films. Oscar night generates so much excitement worldwide, but it is refreshing to see Phoenicians come together to enjoy each other and come together as a community to support the amazing philanthropic work right here in Phoenix.

The Arthritis Foundation was the charity tied to the Black tie Oscar Experience event.  Arthritis strikes about 50 million adults and 300,000 children and is the leading cause for disability in this nation.

Suns Charities “Ignite the Future” with Jump Ball Gala

February 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Charities, Dining & Entertainment

Suns Charities “Ignite the Future” with Jump Ball Gala 5.00/5 2 votes

The Phoenix Suns are more than just Arizona’s basketball team… The Phoenix Suns Charities‘ slogan is “Winning on and off the court.” Amply named since every year they are involved in countless acts of kindness throughout the valley. The Jump Ball, the most recent venture of the charity organization, will occur on March 1. Talking Stick Resort  in Scottsdale will fill up with around one thousand elite philanthropists of Arizona and Suns players for a one of a kind fundraising gala event. With sponsors from National Bank of Arizona to Porsche, the night will surely be one to remember.

This year’s theme of  ”Ignite the Future,” aims to “Ignite the Future for Arizona Kids.” In addition to lighting the charitable fire, guests will also be able to fire up their dancing shoes as the entertainment for the night is a Michael Jackson tribute band. After that, award winning DJ Roonie G will spin records the rest of the night to keep the smiles going.

Jump Ball 2013art

Suns Charities executive director, Robin Milne, answered SmartFem’s questions on the highlights and history of Jump Ball and what to look forward to at this year’s event.

How long has Jump Ball existed?

Phoenix Suns Charities has held a gala every year since 1988. The name has changed throughout the years. It started off as the Courtside Classic, then in 2007 became Suns and Stars, and last year, 2013, was the first year the gala has been called “THE JUMP BALL” to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Phoenix Suns Charities.

Why is this event important to the Valley, the Suns, and Arizona as a whole?

Phoenix Suns Charities was formed with the mission to enhance the lives of Arizona’s children and their families by actively creating and supporting programs in the areas of education, health, human services, the arts, rehabilitation and sports and recreation. The proceeds from the fundraising we do at The Jump Ball allow Suns Charities to invest in the future of Arizona children. It also allows us to connect our Suns players to the Suns community, both of whom have a heart for serving kids in need.

What do the players do at the event?

The players are actively involved in various parts of the gala. Their specific role changes each year, and is always a surprise treat for our guests.

What charities are benefiting from Jump Ball?

75-100 nonprofits will be funded across the state. Boys and Girls clubs, Food Banks and Education programs are some examples.

Damian Brantley as Michael JacksonWhy a Michael Jackson tribute this year?

Michael Jackson’s music is both legendary and timeless, and is something that can be enjoyed by all generations. We came across Damian Brantley and this tribute band and knew they’d be perfect to “ignite” the entertainment and dance portion of our gala this year.

What will be auctioned off during the event?

We always have exciting silent and live auction items available for guests that include trips, jewelry, art and one-of-a-kind Phoenix Suns experiences.

What is the hardest part of coordinating the Jump Ball?

Worrying about not missing any detail. We want our guests to know we thought about them individually.

What is your favorite part of being the Executive Director for this event?

Watching and appreciating the culmination of a year of leveraging the resources of the Phoenix Suns and all of the effort from Suns employees who put their best effort out to show everyone a good time and support the work of the charity. It is a night of immense gratitude for me and respect for Robert Sarver and his commitment to the children of Arizona.

Check out the Jump Ball site for more information!


Phoenix Youth Symphony Presents Teen Prodigy Ethan Bortnick

Phoenix Youth Symphony Presents Teen Prodigy Ethan Bortnick 4.67/5 3 votes

At just age thirteen, Ethan Bortnick has moved audiences nationally and internationally as a pianist, composer, singer, entertainer, and a driven humanitarian, dedicated to combining his musical pursuits with his charity work.

ethan200The young international piano prodigy will be joined by the Phoenix Youth Symphony for an exclusive performance on Sunday, April 6th, at 3:00 p.m. at the Chandler Center for the Arts, with special guest The Phoenix Boys Choir.

Ethan has toured the world, connecting with diverse audiences in countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Canada and Australia and has helped raise over $30,000,000 for nonprofits around the world.  Ethan has shared the stage with such legends as Elton John, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Beyonce, Reba McEntire, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber, and Tony Bennett.  His deep musical knowledge, broad tastes, and staggering talents make his performances a treat for the whole family.

Tickets for this performance range from $20 to $125 and are available at, online at, or by calling the Chandler Center for the Arts Box Office at 480-782-2680.


About Phoenix Youth Symphony

Established in 1952, the Phoenix Youth Symphony provides opportunities to young people in pursuit of excellence and connect the unconnected through educational, experiential and creative music performance.

Many of the talented young musicians who have been part of the Phoenix Youth Symphony have continued their study of music, becoming professional musicians, music educators, private music teachers, orchestra members, conductors, and soloists.

Phoenix Business Journal Honors Dynamic Women in Business

Phoenix Business Journal Honors Dynamic Women in Business 4.56/5 9 votes

The 13th annual Phoenix Business Journal Dynamic Women in Business 2014 was a night to remember for hundreds of people in the valley.

The dinner was hosted Thursday evening at the Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale. 25 extraordinary women were honored for their achievements as leaders in the community. The honorees were chosen based on recommendations from fellow leaders and peers.

pbjstanton200Don Henninger, publisher of Phoenix Business Journal gave the opening remarks and emceed the event.

Nicole Stanton, the First Lady of Phoenix was the keynote speaker. Nicole was proud to be part of an event honoring such hardworking women in the community. Nicole emphasized the importance of mentorship and how much of a difference it makes in women’s lives.

Don Henninger introduced the honorees as they walked up the stage and answered a question picked out of a bowl. The women did an outstanding job at coming up with answers on the spot.

One of the honorees Mary Ellen Dalton, president of Health Services Advisory Group talked about the importance of goals and goal setting. “If you don’t have goals, you don’t have a map of where you want to go,” she said.

pbj200The Phoenix Business Journal also honored owner of Barrio Café and Barrio Queen, Silvana Salcido Esparza. When asked about how to reach success, she replied, “the success comes because I do what I love.”

Among the honorees was SmartFem’s very own Lea Haben. Lea was nominated for her hard work and involvement in the community. She was nominated by her dear friend Debbie Gaby. “I nominated Lea because she is a pillar in our community,” said Debbie.

Overall the night was full of laughter and happiness. These women know that success only comes with hard work and dedication. Their involvement in the community is what makes Phoenix such a great place to live.

Check out a copy Phoenix Business Journal to read more about the honorees.

Whiskey’s Quicker and Keltic Cowboys to Rock The Rugby Bowl: Spikes & Spokes

Whiskey’s Quicker and Keltic Cowboys to Rock The Rugby Bowl: Spikes & Spokes 5.00/5 3 votes

Nothing sets the stage for some serious rugby action and a day of fun, food and drink than a classic rock cover band named Whiskey’s Quicker.  And no band can bring a raucous close to a rollicking day of rough-and-tumble rugby than the Keltic Cowboys, Arizona’s premiere Irish rock band.

Any day of live rock and live rugby with the best food truck fare in the Valley and a World of Beer on tap in Arizona spring sunshine is a good day.  And Saturday, April 12th is that day, when the Fiat of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl: Spikes & Spokes makes its Valley debut at 1:10 p.m. at WestWorld of Scottsdale as one of the world’s most popular sports meets the rolling thunder of motorcycles.  As hundreds of the hottest bikes in Arizona growl along the field, the nationally-ranked team from Arizona State University will take on the #1-ranked team and defending college champions from Brigham Young University.

First up on the stage will be Whiskey’s Quicker, an Arizona-based cover band formed by AZ Sports 620 AM and the Arizona Republic’s own Dan Bickley.  They have been rocking local events and festivals since 2011 with a range of songs from artists such as Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Journey, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Godsmack.

Then it’s time for a showdown between the #1-ranked rugby team in the country, powerhouse Brigham Young University and nationally-ranked Arizona State University.

Wrapping up the event will be the Keltic Cowboys, Arizona’s premier Irish Rock Band, which has been entertaining the beer drinking, live music-loving masses for over a decade.  They will pommel the rugby post-game crowd with their signature rocking mix of guitars, highland pipes, banjo, mandolin and accordion.

General Admission tickets are just $12 in advance, get tickets here or $15 at the door.

Expect top-notch entertainment and hospitality.  Gates open at 11:30 a.m.  Fans can choose from a general admission ticket, the World of Beer Garden, field-side tailgating or relaxing in one of several other tents including a shaded mid-field VIP tent, a reserved Arizona State University tent or non-alcoholic reserved Brigham Young University tent.  A VIP Sky Box option is also available for large parties and groups.  Those interested in corporate sponsorships should email us here.

Additionally on that day, motorcycles will roar into The Fiat of Scottsdale Rugby Bowl like rolling thunder.  The best college rugby will be on display and the twin-barreled music of the Keltic Cowboys and Whiskey’s Quicker will pommel partygoers at WestWorld.  But amid the fun and the bone-bruising action there will be a serious issue being addressed by way of simply riding a motorcycle: breast cancer.

The Rugby Bowl is teaming up with Bikers for Boobies, a non-profit 501(c)3 that provides cancer awareness, education and financial resources for cancers, including breast cancer, will be the primary charity partner for the new event.  Each person riding a motorcycle to display within the event grounds will be able to attend the event for free upon making a $5 donation to Bikers for Boobies.

Tickets are now on sale, the sport that inspired American football and is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world.  In Rugby the players don’t use helmets, shoulder pads, or any padding and occasionally stomp on one another.  This has led to terms such as maul, ruck, and scrum.  The non-stop down-and-dirty action is also the newest Olympic sport and will make its debut at the Summer Games in 2016.

The Rugby Bowl, like the Scottsdale Ferrari-Maserati Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower, comes to the Valley as a new and relatively unknown sport that has the potential to be a perfect fit for a sports-and-action hungry fan base.  Heineken Light is serving as the event’s Presenting Sponsor.

This past June 22nd, the same ownership and production team also launched “The Hottest Race on Earth.”  Organized by the co-founder of Pat’s Run, Scottsdale’s Beat The Heat was called the best racing field in Arizona in two decades and was won by a two-time Ethiopian Olympian.  The group’s Scottsdale Ferrari-Maserati Polo Championships: Horses & Horsepower is now the most attended polo event in the United States or Europe after more than 12,000 gathered at WestWorld a few months ago.

Information and tickets are now available at

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks at or by phone at480.495.3806.

Women’s Enterprise Foundation- Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

Women’s Enterprise Foundation- Supporting Women Entrepreneurs 5.00/5 2 votes

The Women’s Enterprise Foundation is an organization that provides women business owners with resources to help them grow as women in the business world. WEF has been around since 1991, making a difference in women’s lives and businesses.

wefwomen200Julie Heiland, President of WEF has worked her way up the ladder. She was a scholarship winner three years ago, and has come a long way since then. She is excited to spread the work about WEF because she knows how much it can help women business owners. “I wanted to give back, so I became president elect last year,” said Julie. “It has made me a stronger business person,” she added.

Carmella Dodge is very passionate about this organization and what it has to offer. While she has always been the giver, she finally feels like she is the receiver. “I’ve always generated for others, but I never had the business skills to generate for myself,” said Carmella. She believes that WEF can open many doors, and create strong connections between women across the globe. “We are not only building the relationships with the women, we are building friendships,” she said.

WEF offers scholarships and grants that allow women business owners to continue in their path to success. They recognize that women are an important part of the business community, and empower them to reach their fullest potential.

One of the scholarship winners this year is Carrie Severson founder of Severson Sisters, a non- profit organization that helps women increase their self-esteem.

WEF’s next fundraising event will be one you will not want to miss. Joie de Vivire will take place at the National Bank of Arizona Conference Center. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and a fashion show with one of a kind Alexander McQueen inspired botanical dresses. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Welcome to The Year of the Horse – Chinese Style

Welcome to The Year of the Horse – Chinese Style 5.00/5 2 votes

Chinese New Year 2014_the year of the horse“It’s getting dark in Tianjin, China with about six hours to go before the Lunar New Year.  As we approach the Year of the Horse the buildup is gradual but steady as the level of excitement is reflected in the dull roar of continuous fireworks echoing through the city that gradually builds to an indescribable intensity as the night roars on.”  It’s so difficult to describe in mere words the experience of Chinese New Year.

Also referred to as the Lunar New Year, it marks the beginning of Spring Festival, an extraordinary holiday that lasts for about a month and is celebrated across Asia and other parts of the world.  Although the Chinese now use the same Gregorian Calendar as most of the western part of the world, the Lunar New Year and start of Spring Festival is a time to celebrate and be with one’s family.

Nian and the color redAccording to ancient legend, the color red is used to scare away the mythical beast Nian and is hung on doors to protect the family. Nian represents all that is terrible and the tradition is to use fireworks and the color red to scare away the badness the beast brings.

The dramatic highlight of the first night of the Spring Festival is the demonstration of the Chinese passion for fireworks. Fireworks were invented by the Chinese and are used to mark just about any celebration from the birth of a new child to weddings to restaurant openings. It’s common for fireworks to be heard every night in most large Chinese cities but the celebrations during Spring Festival are legendary.

Modern Chinese Spring Festival is a time to be with your family and a time to rid the Nian of the past and celebrate the hope of a brighter future. If you ever have the opportunity to experience the intensity of the Chinese New Year celebrations and Spring Festival, it’s certainly worth going.

Discovering ‘Me the Artist’

Discovering ‘Me the Artist’ 5.00/5 1 vote

Ruby Farias, the owner of Me the Artist invited SmartFem to experience what this place was all about.

If you have never heard of Me the Artist, it is a studio where individuals are provided a relaxing environment and helpful instructions to create a special piece of art that you can be proud of. They provide everything from aprons, paint, brushes, a canvas and most importantly, great instructions.

metheartist200The environment was fun and inviting. The instructors are very helpful in guiding you through the process, and make it very clear that there is no right or wrong way of painting. Adding your own personal touch is part of the experience. One of the most pleasant things about this studio is the fact that they allow you to add your own personal touch of creativity to your paining.

If you think that art is not for you, think again. There is no right or wrong way of creating your painting. Me the Artist is a perfect place to start your collection of art. Trust me, you will be amazed when you take a few steps back and look at the masterpiece you have created, I know I was.

The next big event is on Valentine’s Day.  The “Love is in the Air” session will include light appetizers and desserts. Make sure to reserve your seats, because they are filling up fast.

Me the Artist is also available for private parties. Get your social circle together for a special occasion, or if you prefer to meet new people, make a reservation and meet individuals like you that want to express yourself through a paintbrush and canvas.

I never considered myself an artist, but after experiencing Me the Artist, I realized that by surrounding myself with positive energy I could discover things about me that I did not know.

So if you’re looking for something fun to do, make sure to visit Me the Artist. It’s an experience you’ll enjoy and as long as you keep your painting… never forget.

Dreams and Beauty Don’t Have an Expiration Date!

Dreams and Beauty Don’t Have an Expiration Date! 5.00/5 3 votes

My Interview with Mrs. Arizona 2012 Kirin Christianson

These days, it seems that everyone has opinions about beauty pageants and I am no different.  My opinions of beauty pageants have always been less than favorable, however I decided to find out more about them.  I had met Kirin Christianson, Mrs. Arizona at number of functions and decided to see get the inside scoop on the pageant circuit. I will be the first to admit that I have always felt that pageants focus more on beauty than intelligence and character.  Kirin was refreshingly kind and positive about her experience with pageants and did her best to get me to see things from her perspective.  Despite my personal feelings about pageants, I would be remiss if I did not mention that two of my journalism heroines are both southern pageant girls: Diane Sawyer was America’s Junior Miss and Oprah Winfrey was Miss Black Tennessee.

about-kirin-christiansonAs she welcomed me into her beautiful Scottsdale home, she shared the story of pain and cruelty she experienced growing up, being known as the “Ugly Girl.”  Having two sisters myself, one of which was a homecoming queen, I also grew up being over shadowed by my more attractive siblings. Kirin explained that she decided to challenge herself and  figure out how to change the things that she could and to work hard on her self-esteem and courage. Her story is really unbelievable, she entered 12 beauty pageants before she ever won one. I like to think that I am strong and press on, but I think I would have cut my losses and moved on if it were me!  Her happy smile and can do attitude is what I admire about her and the fact that she proved that dreams and beauty don’t have an expiration date.

Kirin sensed that I wasn’t a fan of the pageant circuit, so she explained that pageants are now platforms for women to find their voice.  Pageants provide scholarships for younger women and the “Mrs.” pageants are a great way for women to highlight the charities that mean something to them.

Kirin is a busy mom but she uses her story to inspire other women to think outside the box.   She encourages women to dream and to get up after falling down.  We all have the ability to change how we feel about ourselves.  Self-esteem is the one thing no one can give you, it is a gift you must give yourself.

Surprisingly her experience with all the pageants put her on the road to self-discovery and helped her with her never give up attitude.  On a final note Kirin signed a modeling contract with Ford at the age of 38 thus proving beauty doesn’t have an expiration date!

It is true that beauty starts from within and radiates outward.



Inside Jenna Raskin’s Home Studio

Inside Jenna Raskin’s Home Studio 5.00/5 5 votes

Jenna Raskin invited SmartFem into her home and allowed us to get a sneak peek at the art that will be displayed at the “Love is in the Air” event that runs from Saturday, February 1st through Sunday, February 9th 2014. The exclusive event will be February 8th from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. It’s an exclusive event that you wouldn’t want to miss, so make sure to RSVP.

jennahearts20010 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, a hospital that holds a special place in Jenna’s heart. While Jenna has no kids of her own, she has two nephews and one niece that she loves and adores. After her nephew came down with Crohn’s disease, she realized how friendly their environment is, and she wanted to give back for what they did for him.

Jenna grew up surrounded by art. Her grandmother was an artist, and she decided to follow in her footsteps. At the young age of 6, Jenna had several of her pieces sold in Downtown Scottsdale. “I was always drawn to art… My motivation was cellular,” Jenna said.

Jenna’s art really took off after her marriage; her supportive husband encourages her to do what she loves, whether it is mosaics, sculpture or paintings. Jenna believes that art is a great way to channel your energy. “I’m having fun one piece at a time,” Jenna said.

jennaJenna’s art is inspired by love, peace and harmony. “A heart is symbolic of so many things,” said Jenna. Some of Jenna’s art recent collectors include President Barack Obama and Alice Cooper.

Lately Jenna has focused on charity and helping raise awareness. Not only did she grow up in the culture of giving back, Jenna believes that helping charities and organizations is a win-win. She gets to do what she loves while lending a hand to others in need.

Make some time to attend the “Love is in the Air” event at DeRubeis Fine Art of Metal Galleries Scottsdale. It’s not only a great way to give exposure to PCH heart center, but to meet people that are positive and want to give back just as much as you do. It will be an evening full of fun, music and amazing art.

Jenna Raskin’s art is also available at Hava Java 32nd street and Camelback thru the end of February 2014. DeRubeis Gallery Scottsdale, Mosaic in terminal 4 at the Phoenix airport, Shorelines Gallery in Coronado, California, and at

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