An Urban Parent’s Guide to Raising Cultured Children

Bonnie Young launched her eponymous luxury children’s brand in 2007 after working with Donna Karan International for 16 years, and it was a transition that forced her to step into a pair of much younger shoes, like those of her daughter Celia Babini. “I don’t design for a specific client; I just design for what I feel,” said Ms. Young. “When I design for kids, I design fantasy.” She has even involved her daughter in her professional life since Celia was 4. And now, it’s a big part of all their lives, a part they share.

Sometimes, leaving an impression on a kid’s life, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, is as simple as being a good example, dedicating your life—and your passion—to others.

Photo Credit: Loren Wohl, Makeup Credit: Tara Schwartz
Fashion came first, but with a growing family, Ms. Young’s priorities shifted away from lines and seasons to the livelihood of not only her own child, but children in general. The mother has fervently supported children’s organizations such as Innocence in Danger and End Child Pornography and Trafficking. “I tried to align myself with charities that were dealing with fighting against child pornography, child trafficking—and so I started doing some events for various charities.”

And that involvement was soon recognized by other groups in need of a champion—like Solving Kids’ Cancer—who began inviting Ms. Young, and her daughter, to their events. "Every year I raise a certain amount of money,” the proud daughter proclaimed. “Every year we have a special night."

Photo Credit: Loren Wohl, Makeup Credit: Tara Schwartz
Like Bonnie Young, designer Rachel Roy is a mother of two (Tallulah, 4, and Ava, 12) and is passionate about donating her time and effort to causes she believes in. This year, she is helping New Yorkers For Children with its 13th Annual Fall Gala to benefit the city’s foster children. Other notable fashion designers are also stepping up to the plate alongside Ms. Roy, including Oscar de la Renta and Zac Posen. These high-profile evenings bring much-needed attention to kids in need, and Ms. Roy hopes her efforts and values shape those of her kids.
Swizz Beatz, a pop culture icon behind the sales of 280 million records in the U.S., has hit the top of the charts working with the likes of Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West and U2's Bono. He also designs for and collaborates with Reebok, Lotus Cars and Kidrobot. But the music superstar and fashion consultant is first and foremost a family man: he and wife Alicia Keys often clear their busy schedules and make time to give back. This October, the nonprofit Children’s Rights will honor Swizz Beatz at their 2012 gala for his many efforts advocating for children’s welfare, a high-profile, star-studded fundraiser that he will also DJ.

Children’s Rights is a New York-based watchdog organization that attempts to reform government children-welfare services nationally, not dissimilar to Bonnie Young’s initiative Innocence in Danger.
For New York’s Fashion’s Night Out, designer Carolina Herrera—who long ago joined the ranks as a children’s wear designer—held a Fashion Night's Out party for Baby Buggy, where her her leather CH Carolina Herrera bracelets that benefit the charity were on sale. The organization’s founder Jessica Seinfeld, co-hosted the event with Patricia Lansing and Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, as families celebrated with each other. Kids enjoyed a magic show, face painting and balloon activities.

Baby Buggy encourages families to support those in need, supplying them with donated baby gear and clothing.

Photo Credit: Dean Neville,
Mary Alice Stephenson, a longtime fashion veteran and mother, is helping to make an impact on the lives of children battling cancer. She has worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for over 10 years, and now serves as the National Fashion Ambassador to the organization to run the “Model for a Day” wish. “I try to utilize all the tools I have from 20 plus years in the industry so that I can use my passion to help others,” Ms. Stephenson said. The kids fly to New York to model for a daylong photo shoot and a chance to build confidence and boost self-esteem.

“I could never stay in the fashion business if I wasn’t using what gives me bliss to make someone else feel good. To me that makes it worth it.”

Photo Courtesy of Mary Alice Stephenson
Since 1999, legendary designer Diane von Furstenberg (who recently collaborated on a Gap Kids line) and her media-mogul husband, Barry Diller, have proved to be yet another fashion force lending a hand to improving the lives of thousands with their Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation, an organization that supports nonprofit children’s organizations such as Love Heals, the White Ribbon Alliance and the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education. Ms. von Furstenberg also donates $1 for each wrap dress she sells to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
The Young-Babini clan recently embarked on a trip to Africa, where they discovered the culture and wildlife of Kenya. But our fashion family that gives isn’t the only one enchanted. Luxury goods giant Gucci established a partnership with UNICEF in 2005 and has raised as much as $12 million annually for the worldwide group of nongovernmental organizations, supporting mothers and their children at an international level, with a focus on families in Africa.

Celia’s father, Mr. Babini, has also engaged with UNICEF. "My dad has done stuff with UNICEF, so maybe when I get a little bit older I want to try that."
Chicago-based designer Lara Miller, like Bonnie Young and Rachel Roy, has also worked to provide youth support in her community. She has worked with 360 Youth Services, “a group of concerned parents and community leaders who saw the need for local professional services for youth and their families,” in the Chicago-Area for their annual runway show fundraiser alongside Two K productions.
San Francisco-based label Tea Collection, which makes globally minded clothes for children and women, collaborates with The Global Fund for Children to promote child welfare and dignity around the world. Tea donates proceeds from its Little Citizens line of clothing to GFC and contributes 20 percent of all online sales during the GFC Days to the foundation.
Miami has a vibrant emerging-designer community, and during the city’s fashion week, the Miami Fashion Week Foundation Inc. works to fund-raise for a variety of charitable and philanthropic projects. One major arm of the organization benefits scholarship funds for local students studying fashion design, fashion photography, jewelry-making and graphic arts who need help affording their education. Every year MFWF awards scholarships to a group of individuals.

Photo Credit: James Eagles and Leon Prime
Members of the Ivy Educational and Charitable Foundation of Houston Inc. host an annual fashion show and luncheon in the city to fund-raise for education scholarships. The philanthropic fashion event, which is sponsored by retailer Dillard’s, also supports youth initiatives at the American Red Cross, The College Fund, NAACP (ACT-SO), Houston Area Urban League Educational Foundation, March of Dimes and the Tavis B. Smiley Educational Foundation.

With all the distractions of the city, it seems there’s never really time for much of anything—particularly not for enjoying those very distractions. You and your kids have your hands in this and that, lending your limited and often sparse attention to a cultural event here, or a social gathering there, but when was the last time you forgot about the ticking hands on your watch face and took joy in the simple act of being together?


For the seven weeks, we follow families that do. 


Each day, with every meal and chore, these New Yorkers take a step back from it all. From neighborhood outings to museum visits, we connect with parents and their kids about how they keep their busy schedules in check and make time for what matters at the end of the day, when soccer season is over and to-do lists are crossed off: each other.


We also look to Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago to see what they have to offer families who are searching for ways to be a part of each others’ everyday lives.


When it comes to your family, who doesn’t have a moment to spare?


Week One: From the Comfort of Your Front Yard

Week Two: Fashion, and Family: A Lifestyle

Week Three: Art and the City: A Family Affair

Week Four: Walking the Walk: The Family that Plays Together …

Week Five: Around the World in So Many Ways

Week Six: Put Down the Textbook, for a Lesson Learned

Week Seven: The Tradition of Coming Together

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