You Night was founded in May of 2013, when Louisiana-based business entrepreneur Lisa McKenzie of Ooh La Bra visualized a concept where everyday women could participate in a runway training experience so they could gain self-esteem, learn to step outside of their comfort zones and have fun at the same time. A team of dedicated and talented women from the St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana (
see team profiles
) began discussions of how they could bring a life-changing, empowering event to the community. Little did the team know back in 2013 that three years later, hundreds of women would have been celebrated on stage in front of thousands of adoring family members, friends and health care providers. The impact was far-reaching -- so much so that You Night was featured in this national Capital One social media campaign that would garner nearly 1.9 million views (as of the date of this writing).
Many things happened after our first event: New participants were signing up to be on wait lists. Sponsors were coming forward and asking how they could be involved. "Alum" models were coming on board to be volunteers with the next group, wanting to be part of an incredible sisterhood. Health care providers started referring women who were feeling down and were needing this type of event in their lives. Our participants, once scared to step on such a public platform, were slowly transforming to empowered ambassadors of hope for other cancer patients. They have been guests on live news programs, they have participated as models at other fundraisers and have shared their stories with thousands of people around the world through our social media platforms.
A once non-existent website quickly had over 30,000 views, and Facebook posts had as many as 40,000 views per day. Strangers from around the world were commenting on the models' stories. Doctors were telling us that their patients were standing taller and truly living a different, positive life. We have said from the beginning that God's hand has been on the entire process, and it continues to unfold in a way that has been a blessing that words can't describe. Our team keeps growing with the most amazing group of advisers, volunteers and coaches in every field (runway training, photography, posture, wellness), and with partner support that will help us continue to grow this program. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of something really special.
Outreach: Participants are gifted with thousands of dollars worth of products, and services, plus the training and runway experience that our team provides. The You Night program is made possible through sponsor donations to the "We Lift You Up Fund" -- a 501(c)3 program managed by the Northshore Community Foundation. Please contact us if you have program ideas or would like to have the You Night program and sisterhood in your community.
Because of the positive nature of our events, our participants get to transfer their thoughts from the negative aspects of cancer, to victory over cancer. The act of visualizing how they want to look and feel on the runway stage is a source of healing.
"When you empower ONE, you impact MANY!"