Author Archives: Yoana Baraschi

Muses & Visionaries December 2014

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M&V: What inspired you to join GEMS and New Light India?

BARASCHI: At a fairly young age, I lost both my parents, and to secure safe exit from Romania for my brother and myself, I traded our family’s property and important art collection for an exit vise out Communist Romania. I moved to Paris and took a job in fashion to pay the bills before eventually coming to New York. I know the challenges of being a self-made women by giving them the tools to empower themselves. I also have a 23-year-old connection to India. I’ve been traveling there with my family and for work. My visits to India have influenced by design aesthetic and spiritual life. Given the organization’s ideology and my love for India, the decision to raise funds for New Light came naturally. GEMS is an extension of that.

M&V: How do your designs capture the organization’s spirit?

BARASCHI:  Through my designs I try to communicate the importance of activism and supporting women from around the globe. It is a lifeline of my work. What you see is that I chose to create pieces that have a natural connection to each organization. In the case of New Light, Olivia Wilde and I collaborated on a design that was based on embroidery work that I have done in India and chose colors that spoke to the environment there. For GEMS, Rachel and I worked with pieces that could be created in the US and would be outstanding for young women who were preparing for interviews and new careers.

M&V: What’s your direct impact?

BARASCHI: For New Light, our donation is destined to build a school for the children in the red light area of Kolkata. GEMS will receive a portion of the proceeds from our fall 2014 collection and we want to be further involved in discussions and mentoring. Rachel Lloyd, the visionary women behind GEMS, told me that all the girls she works with want to be lawyers and caseworkers. I want to help expose them to other careers that can inspire them as well. This past November, I hosted an intimate symposium for a group of the young women from GEMS with women from a variety of interesting professions.

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GEMS Symposium 2014

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This past Monday, we hosted an event for GEMS – Girls Educational & Mentoring Services. We were able to gather a great line up of panelists with different backgrounds to speak to the girls who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS provides these young women with consistent support and acts as their backbone partner to help them exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential.

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Our panelists ranged from successful movie actors to entertainment lawyers, from fashion bloggers to major magazine editors. They shared their personal life/career stories and the journey they took to be where they are today. One major commonality in their testimonials was that there is not a clear cut road to success. They all faced bumpy roads, obstacles and doubts, but in the end each believed in their passions, and took charge of their own destiny.

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Luck, defined as “good fortune” or “advantage/ success by the result of chance” didn’t necessarily fall upon these ladies. Their stories told of the perseverance, dedication and hard work that, at the very least, laid the groundwork for their “lucky” outcome.

These real life stories helped the young women of GEMS to open up and articulate their own passion and vision of their future, of what they ultimately wanted to happen with their lives. Whether their dream is to become a famous fashion designer, or to be financially stable enough to support their parents, it was a mutually moving experience for both the panelists and our guests.

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Even if only one of the young women from GEMS walked away more confident and believing in herself, then we’d say this was a successful symposium! At the end of the day, the panelists were there to inspire the girls and strengthen their beliefs that it is possible to walk away from the commercial sex industry and build a brighter future. “Who you are today, does not define who you will be tomorrow.”

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Images by: Ruby Maxwell

At Home with Yoana

Curious what Yoana Baraschi’s home looks like? Well, you’ve lucked out, and we’re sharing with you photos from her Chelsea abode, inspired by her travels. Recently, the New York Observer had an interview with Yoana, and we of course had to take some BTS photos to share with the rest of you!
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Meet Kitty1
The living room couch adorned with beautiful, rich pillows.
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Yoana in her space, her home.
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Hydrangeas anyone? How gorgeous are these?
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A shot in front of a painting by her daughter.
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Trinkets from her travels around the world.
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and before you you go, meet Snake.

“A home is an environment that you feel for more than anything else.”