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Sisterhood Boutique Brings Fashion Week to Cedar-Riverside

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

All of you have heard of Fashion Week, and maybe about April 23-29 Spring Fashion Week MN, but did you know this year the Cedar Riverside neighborhood will have it's own Fashion Week? How did this happen? I had the honor of having a wonderful conversation with Yasameen Sajady, Social Enterprise Manager at Pillsbury United Communities, and came away stunned at what a small group of indomitable women have accomplished.

It had its beginning in a conversation at the Bryan Coyle Center amongst a group of East African teenagers.  These young women were asked a series of questions by a group leader. They were nudged to talk about what they wanted, and on their list was a space for themselves where they could work on something uniquely their own. During that conversation, the idea of a fashion club and a clothing drive were enthusiastically received. This was the birth of the Sisterhood Boutique.

With support from Augsburg College and the African Development Center, the Boutique opened in a small space on the 2nd floor of the Center. The Boutique opened with the goal of providing gently used clothes at a reasonable price to people in the neighborhood. It caught on quickly, and just as quickly outgrew its original space. Within the last few months they have moved to 2220 Riverside Avenue, directly across from Augsburg College.

One of the things that sets Sisterhood Boutique apart from other retail stores is that the profits of this store are used to fund paid internships for juniors and seniors in high school. The staff at the Boutique run 3 cohorts of students every year. During the internship, each young woman learns business and customer service skills and is required to give back to the community. The first group of interns are now juniors in college and are well on their way to developing their own career paths.

Fashion Week is this week and the slate of activities is both fun and impressive. On Monday, March 12, the Boutique will be highlighted at Pints 4 Pillsbury at Surly Brewing Co. They will hold a casual happy hour to support the people and programs making a difference throughout all of the Pillsbury United Communities. There will be prize drawings, activities, tasty appetizers, great local beer & the chance to support this agency’s work in 2018 and beyond.

Tuesday, March 13th will be an event titled Breakfast 4 Dinner. Held at the Hi-Lo Diner on Lake Street, you will be able to enjoy breakfast for dinner. A portion of the proceeds from all pancake orders will go to Sisterhood Boutique. Bring your friends, family and colleagues along for a night out. Pancakes and supporting a local youth social enterprise? It's a win, win. Raffles throughout the evening, and t-shirts will be available for purchase!

How about a Spa Day? On Wednesday, March 14th, the Boutique will offer a $5 Spa Day with services that include: Massage by Bash Beauty, Henna by Mehndi Moments, facials and DIY essential oils. They are asking for a suggested donation of $5 for each service, and will also be running a Big "Bag Sale" where customers can choose a bag to fill for either $20, $25, or $30.

Thursday, March 15th is an event that I have heard about for quite some time. It is the Open Mic Night, open to high school and college students from the community. Join the Boutique at Cedar Commons from 4-6 pm. Come together for spoken word, performances and, of course, snacks. It might also be worth knowing that this is actually something that happens every month! The address is 2001 Riverside Avenue S.

Alumni Karaoke Night will be held on Friday, March 16th. Current and past youth interns, college interns, volunteers and advisory board members are invited to come eat and sing karaoke at Encore Karaoke & Sushi Lounge, 2111 E Franklin Avenue in South Minneapolis. It's an opportunity for everyone to connect while celebrating Sisterhood's 4-year anniversary!

The final event of this fun filled week is the 3rd Annual Fashion Show, held on Tuesday, March 20th at Augsburg University, where you will see the talents of young social entrepreneurs through spoken word, art and fashion. Doors will open at 6 pm, with the show starting at 7 pm. Admittance is free but donations are accepted. There will be Henna by Mehndi Moments when doors open at 6, music, and Sisterhood t-shirts for sale.

After the show there will be light refreshments and possibly the opportunity to buy outfits. Most of the pieces are being designed by a class from St. Kate's and the others by the intern from the U of MN.

This is an exciting small venture that deserves your business. It is incredible to see what they have done and the dreams for this store. How can you help support this dynamic, neighborhood business?

• Attend their Fashion Week events.
• Donate clothes at the Boutique.
• Learn more about the sewing program at
• Sign up for the email list at

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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