Friday, December 26, 2014

Something New for the New Year...

In this, my latest creative fictional work, a delicate pink blouse is a symbol of womanly beauty and fate. The story (below) will be part of the 2015 anthology published by Visible Ink,  Memorial Sloan Kettering's writing program.  Thrilled another piece of my work has been selected, I invite you to also check out the first, Sisters of Circumstance, and other stories in the collection.

Care Instructions for Love: Dry Clean Only

           “Aurora, you saved the day!” said Lily.
Lily wanted to wallpaper the foyer of the dry cleaning business.  Paul, her husband and business partner, wanted to paint it brick red.  It was Aurora’s suggestion to do both, a compromise that pleased her clients and got the project moving again. It was also when the Korean couple’s relationship with Aurora, their interior decorator, became a friendship. Aurora had even been part of the baby shower planning for the couple’s first child.
“You and Paul make me believe there’s someone out there for me,” Aurora said. “You have such a beautiful family.”
They were in Lily’s kitchen, having their odd, but usual lunch of Jamaican beef patties and kimchi. Aurora had brought with her a vintage, blush chiffon blouse that she wanted to wear to an upcoming charity event. Simple and elegant, the long-sleeve, collared top was whisper-sheer. 
“Oh, that’s beautiful,” Lily said, approving Aurora’s choice. “It shows a little cleavage, too. Very sexy.”
 “Sexy?” said Aurora. “I’d planned on wearing it buttoned to the neck with a pearl broach. It’s for a breast cancer survivor fundraiser. I wanted you to add pearl buttons.”
“A broach! That’s how you’ll die a spinster,” Lily said. “Come on, show some skin. You are a survivor! You and Michael are a very handsome couple.”
“Maybe,” Aurora elaborated, “but he’s not ‘the’ one. There’s just something missing with us.”
On her way home, Aurora couldn’t help but think of Lily’s idyllic life, and the sadness that her own had been so difficult.
Stage II breast cancer had taken her left breast. Chemo and radiation had crippled her spirit and broken her confidence. A single woman who had dedicated herself to her work since her illness, Aurora’s relationships had been stymied, sabotaged by her inability to open herself to others. Guarded and defensive of her transformed body image and self-conscious of her reconstructed breast, Aurora had only recently and with great trepidation, started to date again.
When her suitors got serious however, Aurora would immediately become un-available. This was the case with the man before Michael—Andrew.
Andrew and she had hit it off magnificently until Aurora got scared. She stopped retuning Andrew’s calls, texts and e-mails.
She took up with Michael who was also emotionally unavailable, still dealing with issues from his divorce. Michael was a safe choice.  But she knew she had to end it.
So it was a surprise when Andrew tapped her on her shoulder one day outside the dry cleaners where she had picked up the pink blouse from alterations.   
“Excuse me, but I think you dropped this.” Andrew said handing her the dry cleaning receipt that had fallen. “You,” he continued, suddenly recognizing Aurora.
“Hi!” Aurora gushed, her heartbeat nearly stopping.
These were feelings absent in her interactions with Michael.  She knew she made the right choice ending it with him.  Andrew was whom she needed.
“How’ve you been?” she asked.
“I never thought I’d see you again,” he replied. “You just disappeared.  I thought we hit it off.”
“Oh no,” Aurora chirped back, mustering up courage. “I thought so too...”
Andrew furrowed his brow slightly and smiled perplexed.  Aurora took a deep breath and made her move.
“Would you like to come to a dinner thing with me next Friday? It’s for a breast cancer organization.”
“Really?” Andrew replied, his smile growing wider. “Sure, I’d love to.”
The evening was enchanting.  They laughed, danced and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. With Andrew by her side, Aurora felt loved, beautiful and confident, again. She decided to open up to him about her fears.
He in turn confided that his mother had also had a mastectomy, a double, and that he had learned much about the challenges women faced in such circumstances.  It was this experience that prompted him to study medicine, in fact. Suddenly, Aurora felt everything fall into place. And after a few months, Aurora and Andrew had become serious.   
~~~ 
           One day at the dry cleaning shop, Lily noticed a familiar pink blouse in the bin marked for donation to their church. Lily knew instantly that it was Aurora’s. She pulled the blouse from the bin and gave her friend a long overdue call.
“You have reached Aurora and Andrew,” the voicemail said. “We’re not here at the moment – we eloped! Please leave a message. Beep.”
Lily let out a cheer that brought Paul running to the front of the shop.
“What’s going on?” Paul said worried at Lily's shouts.
“Aurora and Andrew got married!”


~~~
Weeks later, Aurora returned Lily’s call. She shared that they had moved to West Africa, where Andrew had decided to commit all his time doing relief work, and where they had adopted a child.  Aurora gave Lily permission to donate the pink blouse.

 “That blouse brought me back to Andrew,” Aurora said.  “Maybe it will bring the next owner similar joy. Besides, I only wear blouses with d├ęcolletage these days.”


This work also appears in Sloan Kettering's 2015 Visible Ink Anthology, (http://ow.ly/MqDXp). 

(c) 2014 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All Rights reserved. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Sweet Story Just Got Sweeter -- for the Holidays!

For a limited time, get Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain gifts featuring gourmet treats from a premier, Westchester-based chocolatier, while supplies last. This new product is the result of a collaboration between Valorena Online, L.L.C. and Chocolations, of Mamaroneck, New York.
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Chocolations
Westchester, New York's Premiere Chocolate Factory
607 E. Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck,  NY, 10543 

A Kathie Lee and Hoda’s “Favorite Thing” of October 13, 2014, Chocolations chocolates are world-class creations made from premium ingredients. The featured baseball glove is a 1/4 lbs. of milk chocolate with a white chocolate ball with red stitching. All items are produced locally at the Mamaroneck-based sweets shop that is home to a chocolate factory where truffles, barks and bonbons are also crafted. Visit Chocolations' website at  www.chocolations.com .


Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain


Isaiah's birthday goes terribly wrong when he receives the one thing he loathes — chocolate! Disappointed and angry, Isaiah storms out of the house and into adventure.  In the end, Isaiah learns how resourceful he can be, and how much his Auntie loves him. A whimsical tale of challenges met and happy endings the 26-page book was written by Valerie Williams-Sanchez, and is published by Lulu Publishing. It features richly colored, hand-drawn images that are bursting with joy, emanating light and love. SHOP THE BOOK at www.bit.ly/ShopICM

For pricing and availability call or e-mail Valerie 
at (714) 654-6453 or Valerie@ValorenaOnline.com 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Valorena Online Announces the Publication of Its Long-Awaited Children’s Book, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain

(Palisades, N.Y.) November 14, 2014 – Valorena Online, L.L.C. is pleased to announce the publication of the children’s book, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain.

Funded via a Valorena Online, L.L.C.-sponsored crowd-fundingcampaign launched July 24th and concluded August 14th, the story features Isaiah, a precocious little boy whose birthday goes terribly wrong when he receives the one thing he loathes — chocolate!

Disappointed and angry, Isaiah storms out of the house and into adventure. In the end, Isaiah learns just how resourceful he can be, and how much his Auntie loves him. It is a whimsical tale of challenges met and happy endings.

A labor of love, the story is one created while the author, Valerie Williams-Sanchez was babysitting her nephew, the title character's namesake.

“It’s been quite an adventure to get this project through the finish-line.” Williams-Sanchez said. “I am thrilled to have completed the journey.”

Written to be read aloud at home, school, daycare or other environments where kids meet, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain eschews didactic messaging. 


“It’s a simple story, sweet and easy,” Williams-Sanchez said. “But it features a mixed race child, which few kids books do, and that’s important.”

The book features colorful, hand-drawn images that are bursting with joy, emanating light and hope in a story that is told over 26-pages. 

Illustrated by New York-based artist, Brooklyn Russell, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain is currently offered through Lulu Publishing as an 8 X 10.75 inch hardcover book, with an e-book anticipated for 2015.

For pricing and availability CLICK: Lulu Publishing or contact the author at Valerie@ValorenaOnline.com .

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crowdfunded Children’s Book, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain, Climbs Closer to Publication

(Palisades, N.Y.) Aug. 14, 2014 – Time expired Thursday, at the stroke of midnight, for the hundreds of prospective funders contacted to give to Valorena Online, L.L.C.’s Indiegogo, crowdfunding campaign. Funds raised go to publish the children’s book, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain.

In the end, “we didn’t make our [financial] mark,” said author and Valorena Online, L.L.C. entrepreneur, Valerie Williams-Sanchez. “But we did take a big step closer. We are very grateful for the outpouring of support and interest in the book. The feedback received has been overwhelming.”
(C) 2014 Valorena Online, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved

The campaign which allowed donors to contribute over a two week period raised $1,145.00, just over 11% of the project’s goal of $10,000, funds needed to publish, produce and promote the story aimed at multicultural families and children.

The Argument to Self-Publish
All proceeds will go towards getting the sweet tale into the hands – and hearts – of readers of all ages. Moreover, the story looks to affect the number of children’s book options that exist for kids of color.

“I shopped this book with traditional publishers,” Williams-Sanchez said, “but had no luck.”
Williams-Sanchez isn’t alone. As campaign materials noted, despite the fact that roughly 37% of the U.S. population are people of color, less than 10% of children's books published over the past 18 years feature multicultural content, according to data published by Lee & Lowe Books. 

With such abysmal statistics, self-publishing is ostensibly the strongest, most viable option for authors of diversity stories looking to see their books in print. With multicultural and multigenerational characters, Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain is a fun, accessible reading experience for children of every age and every hue of the spectrum. 

“The images,” Williams-Sanchez continued, “really bring the story to life and go together to make this book is a fun read — particularly for anyone who's ever received a birthday gift they didn't like!” 
An Integrated Digital and Social Media Campaign
To get the word out, Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Online, L.L.C. initiated an integrated online marketing communications effort to promote and publicize the fundraising effort. Buttressing the Indiegogo campaign,  digital and social media marketing elements on Facebook, Twitter and the authors own blog, “Valerie’s Vignettes” at www.ValorenaOnline.com were deployed to spread the word and prod patrons, friends and family of the project, to give.

Indiegogo Campaign Donors
Listed alphabetically in order of greatest contribution:
Mike & Diane Owens
Frances M. Williams
Linda Batwin
     Annika Johansson-Ford
Chrissy Sherbanee
Jamie Kitman
Mary Crescenso
Dwight W. Ford
Dora Gomez
Karen McMullen
Anastasios “Tassos” Panas
Steve Winoker

The orchestrated and strategic barrage of daily Facebook posts, tweets and direct e-mail invitations to participate ended late in the evening of August 14th following a final flurry of reminder tweets announcing the last chance to participate. Yet and still, calls from interested givers continue to come in well after the campaign close, Williams-Sanchez said, from those asking: “is it too late to donate?”  

A follow-up drive is in the planning stages for the Fall 2014. In the meantime, inquiries should be directed to Valorena Online, L.L.C., P.O. Box 180, Palisades, N.Y. 10964, or via e-mail at Valerie@ValorenaOnline.com. Donation perks listed online will be honored and offered for donations up to $500, through 2014.

The Narrative
In the story Isaiah and the Chocolate Mountain, Isaiah’s birthday goes terribly wrong when he receives the one thing he loathes — chocolate! Disappointed and angry, Isaiah storms out of the house and into an adventure. In the end, Isaiah learns just how resourceful he can be, and how much his Auntie loves him. 

A whimsical tale of challenges met, and happy endings, the story was created while the author was babysitting her nephew, the title character's namesake.

"[It was] written to be read aloud, as it was initially told,” said Williams-Sanchez. “Brooklyn’s illustrations are wonderful -- richly colored and inviting. They’re like folk art to me, my favorite."

About the Author and the Illustrator
Written by Rockland County-based freelance writer and author Valerie Williams-Sanchez and illustrated by Brooklyn Russell, the 12x12 full-color and hard-cover book is the first such effort for Williams-Sanchez, a journo turned marketeer, turned children’s book author. Williams-Sanchez is mother to an 18-year-old-daughter. She is a teacher who has worked with children of all ages, including special-needs teenaged boys and girls.

An Arkansas native living in Brooklyn with her husband, Brooklyn Russell is a relative newcomer to children's book illustrating who is quickly gaining fans and looking to make her mark. With no formal training and a growing list of titles, Russell characterizes her artistic style as classic, colorful and playful. She names Gustav Klimt as her favorite artist, and said she is inspired by many children's illustrators including Rebecca Green, Sophia Blackall and Scott Campbell. Married 16 years, Russell is mom to 10-year-old daughter, Ruby and Auntie to a niece and nephew, both of whom are over 18.

Learn more on Facebook about the book: www.facebook.com/IsaiahandtheChocolateMountain , the author Valerie Williams-Sanchez: https://www.facebook.com/valerie.williamssanchez , or 
the illustrator Brooklyn Russell: https://www.facebook.com/brooklynrussellart .

For orders and pricing information contact Valerie@ValorenaOnline.com.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Valory 5.0" Heads Upstream to FIGMENT, Boston

Last year, the Boston-based show was Valerie's Vignettes' first experience with Figment Arts Festival, the free, metropolitan celebration of participatory art and culture, "where everything is possible." Through sheer serendipity, a weekend day trip to Bean-town intersected with the day of fun, creativity and participatory art. It was a revelation. The event impressed me.

On that day, projects ranged from simple to complex, some with high-brow themes, like one of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Another project encouraged participants to grow "hope gardens" by constructing trees with trunks and branches made from P.V.C. piping and leaves made from plastic installation strips. A New York family, all of whom were dressed in webbed, lizard-like catsuits, performed together, acting out an evolution narrative that began with the age of dinosaurs and moved through time to the emergence of mankindMost all of the varied styles of work engaged and delighted.

I moved through the grounds at the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway which were filled with dozens of exhibits, crafts projects, dance and music performances. I thought: "I could do this." And so, I did.

This year, Valerie's Vignettes and Valorena Online, L.L.C. debuted the latest iteration of "Valory the Koi of Courage," which was affectionately dubbed "Valory 5.0." The result of a collaboration with Texas-based sculptor Michael Washer, the new fish design represents a refined notion and effort to create a fun experience that aspires to unite people and bring families together through story, art and words.
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"Valory, the Koi of Courage" participated in three Figment Festivals: 
Philadelphia 2013, New York 2014, and Boston 2014. 
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The lay of the land at Figment Boston. 
Interactive Art: "Valory the Koi of
 Courage" at Parcel #19
My participation in Figment Festivals continues to be a journey of imagination, an ongoing labor of love, through which I have grown tremendously, and completed my own challenges from each of the category of scales.

I have met and persevered through relationship challenges with loved ones and new people I have met through my participation in the event; education and knowledge challenges which have tested my ability to write and develop the project and proposal to step out into a completely new arena — participatory art; financial challenges which have pushed me to invest in myself and my resourcefulness to bring this vision of mine into being at a level of which I can be proud; and health challenges (the challenge that started it all) which tested my mettle through the processes of being cut, poisoned and burned through surgeries, chemo and radiation, the treatments for breast cancer.

On the verge of completing my "Valory the Koi of Courage, 5.0" journey, I looked to not only manifest and feature the new creation, but also to continue and complete this project which has truly transformed me. The experience has affirmed in me, my spirit of creativity,  imagination, and my sense of "can do" possibilities.

More, my experience has shown me the willingness of others to share stories, strength and power as illustrated in the amazing stories articulated and noted in the dozens of scales that have been created, many of which have been featured in the video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6tQRJEkOm8), and in Twitter notes from ValorenaOnline.

I thank the Figment organization for making room for me in their creative spaces. I have enjoyed every moment of each experience. I also thank those who participated in Valory's journey. I have been truly moved and inspired by the bits of yourselves, stories of courage, and sheer joy you continue to share. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

COCOA & CONVERSATION: What’s in a Name?

In business, conventional wisdom holds that when naming a company, the following guidelines, as reported in a recent article by Entrepreneur magazine, should be followed:
  • Research whether your business name is unique. 
  • Choose a name that is evocative and alludes to what your business does
  • Select a name that doesn’t confuse customers
The title of this blog, Valerie’s Vignettes, is pretty straightforward. But the company behind the blog, Valorena Online, L.L.C. eschews two of these naming conventions. Like the monikers of many other companies, including Apple, Virgin and more, for Valorena Online, L.L.C., the business name adheres to just one of the guidelines: the unique name has a story. If you know it, as described in an archive edition of Valerie's Vignettes, you could win a FREE gift!

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SUBSCRIBE, ENTER & WIN

Can you recall the origins of the Valorena Online, L.L.C. name?  

Subscribe and post your response in the comments section below to enter to 
WIN A FREE STARBUCKS GIFT CERTIFICATE
 to enjoy a hot cocoa, or other beverage of your choice! 

 Must subscribe to the web site www.valorenaonline.com to enter. 

The first 10 subscribers with correct answers will win.
Gift cards valued at $5.00ea. Contest ends July 30, 2014.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tales from Paradise

The BLACKstream blog at BlackPublicMedia.org is home to news and up-to-date information about the projects of the National Black Programming Consortium, and all things of the African Diaspora. 

Recently, for the BLACKstream, I interviewed four filmmakers who represent emerging voices and views of Caribbean filmmakers featured on National Black Public Consortiuum’s AfroPOP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange.

With projects that touch on themes of immigration, female matriarchy, untraditional black male, and questions of the futures of Caribbean youth, this season the program explored a whole new world, and unearthed unexpected stories from paradise that are funny, thoughtful, harrowing and bittersweet. 

Once you read the story, be sure to check out the film, and join the conversation.
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A Modern Day Middle Passage 
Bodies washed ashore on white sand beaches. Immigrants’ corpses littering the shores of paradise. These are images Bahamian Filmmaker Kareem Mortimer recalls of his youth, (Read the full story here.)

Auntie from Barbados: Women and the Caribbean International Family
Lisa Harewood is a socially motivated artist whose short film, “Auntie,” invites contemplation of Caribbean life, immigration, extended matriarchal families and those left behind. Her debut effort as a writer and director, Harewood’s film is the result of a last- minute decision to enter the Commonwealth Foundation’s development scheme. More than a lark, Harewood said she had a mere 40 hours to teach herself screenwriting after her initial pitch won a coveted spot in the festival, (Read the full story here.)

Vivre: A Young Boy’s Flight of Reality
Six may just be filmmaker Maharaki’s magic number. That’s how many years it has taken the native of Barbados to bring her award-winning screenplay, “Vivre” — which means “to Live” in English — to the silver screen. During the time, Barbados-based, Maharaki continued working, developing freelance projects throughout the Caribbean, including directing music videos, advertisements and short TV formats. Regularly involved assisting overseas productions, Maharaki’s projects have led her to work with music stars such as Rihanna and Shontelle, (Read the full story here.)


A Small Life with Grand Visions
Mariel Brown’s short, Small Man tells the story of John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins, an ordinary man of modest means with a gift for making extraordinary, creative objects. With a skill that went largely unrecognized — outside his immediate family and friends — in his lifetime, Rawlins had the ability to imagine entire worlds, orchestrating scenes which afforded him a universe of freedom that eluded him in his real, day-to-day life, (Read the full story here.)



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bag the Counterfeits. In Designer Bags, Authenticity is the Real Deal.

I made a delicious acquisition yesterday. No, it wasn’t hot cocoa,  exactly. Rather, it was a Badgley Mischka tote. In a hue of Spring 2014’s hot color -- black orchid, my purple tote was a purchase that required two trips to New Jersey and a bit of soul searching. 
Relatively speaking, the bauble was a steal, purchased on final clearance, very deeply discounted from its near $800 original retail value. Brand new, the piece looks every bit the asking price, which was what gave me pause. Better stated, it was the voice of my conscience, strengthened over nearly a decade working with poor and at-risk youth that echoed loudly in my ears, telling me to put the bag back. 

Long ago, when I worked in the non-profit sector and earned a modest paycheck, I had adopted an austere lifestyle. Simply put, such extravagances had proven oxymoronic to my humanitarian work. So, years later, I was convinced I had disabused myself of my penchant for such luxuries. Then, last year, I met Valerie Salembier. 

My namesake is a former Senior Vice President, Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer of Town & Country magazine, among other C-suite appointments at media stalwarts like Esquire magazine, The New York Post, The New York Times and Harper's Bazaar. On this day, she was a panelist along with Suzyn Waldman and Paula Zahn, at the “Powerful Women in Communications,” industry round table discussion.

Impossibly slender, immaculately groomed and impeccably stylish, Valerie was refreshingly approachable. It was not a surprise, she rocked a killer, leather quilted bag -- was it Chanel, maybe Gucci or perhaps Hermes? We spoke briefly following the event, last year, when I learned of our shared passion — hot cocoa. 

One Fashion Warrior 

Sisters-in-hot-cocoa, she waxed how her taste for hot chocolate had led her across the globe, adventuring to exotic, far-away lands to try new blends and brews. Hot cocoa connoisseurs both, our love of the elixir was overshadowed by our interest and commitment to helping abused and exploited children, each in her own way.

My humanitarian efforts had led me to forgo lavish living. Whereas Valerie, in her life and work, embraces luxury, and has adopted a no-phonies sensibility that goes beyond an ordinary aversion to knock-off designer handbags and totes. Many frown on counterfeit bags that dilute the investment of purveyors who pay top dollar for top shelf bags. Valerie takes a harder tact. She espouses a zero-tolerance attitude, and feels selling or buying counterfeit bags should be criminalized. 

These beliefs are fueled by Valerie's awareness that the counterfeit handbag industry is built on exploitative labor practices that funnel cash to drug traffickers and terrorists, according to reports. She recently told the Epoch Times that the counterfeit industry “supports child labor, 7-year-olds chained to sewing machines, eating two meals of rice a day.” 

There are similar cases of abuse among manufacturers who operate legally in countries with less stringent laws; however, it is the illicit swath that goes unregulated and unchallenged upon which Valerie is focused. Valerie has also served as president of the Authentics Foundation, a nonprofit that reportedly advocates internationally against the dangers of counterfeit products. 

The Authentics Foundation is one of few watch dog groups whose efforts have been successful in raising international awareness of counterfeiting activities. But those efforts have not gone unchallenged. Specifically, critics have questioned the authenticity of the group, asking for corroboration of the organization’s 501(c)3 status. Meanwhile, at its helm, Valerie has continued to speak out about the hidden crimes and exploitation that is part and parcel of the underground industry that is devoid of regulation and flush with revenue. 


Fashion Funding Terror

Seven years ago, the International Herald Tribune estimated that fake designer bags generated more than $500 billion in global trade. That same report, sourced from U.S. authorities, supports Valerie's contention and highlights that a significant portion of this revenue goes to terrorists and their activities. 

For these reasons, Valerie has become an adamant, and outspoken anti-counterfeiting activist. She is today a recognized authority in spotting haute couture knock-offs who has hosted for the past 10 years anti-counterfeiting summits, events which have featured keynote speakers including former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. 



Knock-offs generate more than $500 billion, globally, according to reports.


In 2012, Valerie took the helm of the Authentics Foundation, a nonprofit that reportedly advocates internationally against the dangers of counterfeit products. Started by lawyers in foreign cities on behalf of manufacturers of some of the world’s most exclusive brands, the charity has as its mission to protect its clients from the counterfeit industry, according to a report in the Huffington Post.

The organization ran afoul recently, The Huffington Post reported last December, when it was found to be operating illegally. The international charity was registered neither with state, nor with the federal government.  Allegations for which Valerie has gone on the record to defend. However, questions remain. 

The charity’s woes have not stopped Valerie from getting the message out. Holiday season 2013 saw Valerie featured in local New York news and national reports on “superfake” handbag sales. One such example, was ABC’s Good Morning America reports:  'Superfake' Knock-Off Handbags:  






Public sentiment remains split on the issue of whether sellers and buyers of counterfeit goods should be criminalized. Last June, New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin and others, including Valerie, lobbied and heavily supported proposed legislation aimed at expanding punitive consequences from the sellers and purchasers of counterfeits. The bill did not pass. 

Buyer vs. Seller: Who is the Real Criminal?
Arguably, such legislation would stifle the free-market rights of sellers, legal and illegal alike, many of whom include immigrant Africans of the Cocoa Belt. Notably visible are poor newcomers from Senegal and Nigeria, who live in the US and work to eek out an existence. These include many African immigrant street vendors who hustle to sell super fakes to tourists and others looking for big bargains. 

Many others argue that it is the consumer’s prerogative to purchase phony products. Whether this same contingent is aware counterfeit merchandise has ties to international terrorist groups remains unseen, but groups like Valerie's are convinced that if the public were aware, the counterfeit industry and its products would be vilified and funding sources would dwindle. 

What has dwindled is the number of African immigrants selling these items in New York City. Instead, Chinese immigrants in New York City's Chinatown now claim the lion's share of this region's illicit counterfeit handbag sales.

Now with a new mayoral administration residing albeit symbolically at Gracie Mansion, it remains to be seen whether policy will be changed or if legislation will again be proposed to further control this activity. 

Terrorist attacks here on U.S. soil, now, more than ever, call for vigilance. Much work still needs to be done in educating the public. Proof is the recent surge in demand for “Superfakes" that has been stoked by a slumping economy and unfettered tastes for luxury items. Moreover, with such activity and political unrest worldwide, redoubled efforts are needed to mitigate illicit activity. Consumers have increased reason to pause when purchasing bogus bags.

Today, heading out for a hot cocoa meet-up with friends, I catch a glance of myself in the mirror, my boldly colored bag hanging effortlessly from my shoulder. The sight makes me smile. For me, feeling that I got a great deal and knowing my money isn’t going to illegal activity eases my conscience. Feeling au courant lifts my confidence. The option of buying a discounted authentic offers value that goes beyond the price tag. That is more than delicious.


(c) 2014 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All Rights reserved.