Put on some Pizzazz: Annual shopping event benefits Garden Club of Allegheny County projects
Lark Champion will be a new vendor at the annual Pizzazz shopping event at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.
But it won't be her first time there.
Champion, owner of Larkin Lane Designs, based in Georgia, purchased a few things previously at the three-day boutique-style shopping experience when she lived in the area.
“I was a guest at Pizzazz, and I just loved it,” Champion says. “I found so many wonderful items there. I remember the quality of the vendors — Hermes scarves, J. McLaughlin clothing and amazing jewelry and other gift items.”
She hopes shoppers this year will feel that way when they see her collection of blouses, scarves, purses, bow ties, pillows and jackets. She collaborates with artisans from Guatemala and Mexico and incorporates textiles from those parts of the word in her designs. Silk Ikat scarves start at $95 and blouses at $235 ( larkinlanedesigns.com ).
Champion will be one of the 29 vendors at the 22nd annual Pizzazz: Shop. Mingle. Give Back., running Oct. 18 to 20 at Fox Chapel Golf Club, Fox Chapel. The event is hosted by the Garden Club of Allegheny County, which was founded in 1914 by a group of civic-minded women who were passionate about the benefits of public and private gardening. It is the organization's largest fundraiser of the year.
Pizzazz has raised more than $1 million from its inception, with proceeds used to support conservation, environmental, preservation and horticultural projects throughout Allegheny County.
There will be a unique assortment of merchandise not otherwise available in Pittsburgh. Organizers invite vendors from across the country and work diligently to offer a wide range of merchandise, bringing in new choices each year as well as welcoming past participants who have consistently become sought after by shoppers, says Carol Dugan of Sewickley, who is co-chair of the event with Lilla Swan from Shady-side. She says they work to keep the event fresh because people have other shopping options. Pizzazz isn't only a place to buy nice things. It's an opportunity to help, Dugan says.
“We are doing great things with the money,” Dugan says. “All the proceeds go back to the community. That motivates me each year when I see all that the Garden Club of Allegheny County does.”
The vendors see the real reason to be a part of this event, too.
“It's important to be involved with events such as Pizzazz and the Garden Club of Allegheny County,” says Jennifer Powers, owner of Merrichase, a collection of jewelry and handbags ( merrichase.com ), based in New York. “It's an honor to be able to give back, to support, preserve and promote our gardens. In addition, I enjoy spreading the sparkle, meeting my clients in person, seeing them walk away excited, and with a smile on their face.”
Powers heard about Pizzazz through friends in Southampton, N.Y., who are members of the Southampton Garden Club and thought her line would be a perfect fit.
Her prices range from $100 to $1,000. The tassel necklaces are the signature piece of the collection, because they were her first design. Each season new pieces are incorporated into the collection, such as a disc necklace, that can be worn as a pendant or short, with handblown glass inserts, as well as teardrop earrings in jewel-toned crystals.
“They are perfect for holiday fizz and sparkle,” Powers says. “Wearing Merrichase guarantees you will be the center of attention. Merrichase creates a ‘kid in a candy store' sensation. The jewelry is exciting and affordable and an experience of pure merriment.”
Another first-time vendor is Susan Wise, co-owner of Second Season Mittens with husband Scott Wise and son Jeffrey based in State College ( secondseasonwear.com ). They attend about 35 shows a year.
They take recycled sweaters made of 85 to 100 percent wool, shrink them, and fashion them into mittens lined with fleece. They will also custom-make a pair from a sweater you own that has a nostalgic meaning called Memory Mittens. They've sold all over the world.
The mittens come in heavy duty and medium weight in sizes small, medium, large and extra length and are all one-of-a-kind. You can put them in the washer because they have already been shrunk.
“People say they are the warmest mittens,” Wise says. “These are very serious mittens. The snow is coming and you will need good gloves. I really like the creativity part of making the mittens and seeing the reaction of people who come to see our collection. We are excited to see what kind of reaction we get at Pizzazz.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review and Valley News Dispatch staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.