You may have noticed the Lauren Farrell NY pop-up shop in the Bell Works main atrium, with its brightly colored handbags and American flag on proud display. And you may have gone in and chatted with the approachably chic brunette who runs it (yes, that would be Lauren Farrell herself) and even picked up one of her irresistibly soft bags. But what you may not know is that Lauren and her V-adorned bags are in the metroburb for the month to help honor a special little girl named Vienna.
Two-year-old Vienna Savino loved getting dressed up, borrowing her big sisters’ too-big sandals, and everything hot pink. Her mom Dr. Denise Wunderler, a Holmdel primary care sports medicine physician, had always been the opposite, caring more about function over fashion, carrying what she calls a “wallet on a string.” A mother-daughter ying yang.
But just months before her third birthday, Vienna passed away unexpectedly. Vienna’s death was categorized as Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), which is a leading category of death in toddlers, but is not something most people have heard of. Devastated but determined to honor their always-smiling daughter, Denise and her family started Team Vienna, a non-profit to raise awareness and support research for SUDC.
When handbag designer Lauren Farrell heard about Team Vienna and SUDC, she felt like she had to reach out to Denise and to find some way to help.
“I’ve always loved children, I used to be a babysitter, and I didn’t know how, but I knew there was no way that I’m not going to help,” said Lauren.
Lauren has built her brand by making unique handbags for fashionable sports fans, with designs in team colors that are sleek, chic and follow strict stadium bag size policies. Her handbags are all about personal style with a team mentality, which made her a natural fit when it came to honoring Vienna’s legacy.
“I had thought it be amazing to do a handbag in Vienna’s honor,” said Denise. And Lauren was on the same page; when they first met in person, both Denise and Lauren had “Team Vienna Handbags” written in their pre-coffee date notes.
“We even had similar design sketches,” said Lauren. “It was important to us all that we created something that would embody Vienna’s personality.”
Around the same time Lauren began work on The Vienna Collection, she was put in touch with Moshe Gross, Bell Works’ former Director of Special Projects.
“Moshe Gross made it all happen,” said Lauren about her pop-up. “Once he knew there was a charity involved, he made it happen. I think a big piece of it was that we were doing something good for the community, and raising awareness.”
“It’s been pretty cool being one of the first pop-ups in a place with so much history,” she added. “It’s such a unique concept. I love meeting the employees that were drawn here, and finding out about the companies where they work. It’s all just really interesting.”
At the pop-up you can find The Vienna, which converts from a crossbody to clutch, and the V3 Crossbody, a mini version of The Vienna in Lauren’s signature stadium-friendly size. The handbags are made in the USA of super-soft Italian leather with a bold contrast V on the front and hot pink lining inside.
Every detail of the bags have a lot of thought and meaning, including a tag with a haloed V, and a special magenta and turquoise color combo chosen by Vienna’s sister. For every Vienna Collection handbag sold, proceeds will be donated to the family’s nonprofit.
You can purchase The Vienna, V3 Crossbody, and handbags from Lauren’s entire collection at the Lauren Farrell NY Pop-Up in the main atrium at Bell Works through the month of February or online at www.laurenfarrellny.com.
Lauren had so much fun collaborating with Vienna’s older sister that she was inspired her to lead design workshops at Bell Works for other mini fashion fans on February 16 and 23 from noon to 3 p.m.
The goal of The Vienna Collection, much like everything that Team Vienna is doing, is not only to honor Vienna, but to raise awareness and research support for SUDC.
“We know this is very a special thing,” said Denise. “I’m thrilled that Bell Works sees the specialness of all that’s going on and is a part of it.”
For more information about Team Vienna 4 SUDC Awareness visit, www.teamviennasudc.org.
Special thanks to Pat Garofalo, Bell Works’ Senior Property Manager for also assisting with the success of the Lauren Farrell NY Pop-Up.