Friday, November 6, 2015

Realizing My Dream to be a Mogul...Well A Mogul Contributing Writer


I am excited to announce my recent collaboration with Mogul, an award-winning technology platform for women worldwide, as a contributing writer.
 
Getting back to my journalistic roots has been challenging but I feel truly honored to be a part of a community of such diverse women writers.
 
Check out my recent post:
 
 
Here is a little bit of the back story from the Mogul website

Mogul (www.onmogul.com) is an award-winning technology platform for women worldwide, connecting users to trending content, including stories, jobs, and products that are personalized to their interests. Mogul is ultimately democratizing information for women worldwide by enabling users to connect, exchange such information, and access knowledge.

Reaching millions of monthly unique users, Mogul is regularly visited by more than 196 countries and 25,000 cities worldwide. Mogul was the Recipient of the 2014 Innovator Award presented by Cadillac, named one of the Top NYC Startups to Watch in 2015 by Entrepreneur Magazine, named one of the Best Websites for Finding Top Talent by Inc. Magazine, and has been honored and recognized by Forbes, Business Insider, and Harvard Business School. 

To drive initiatives in support of women, Mogul has partnered with dozens of organizations around the world, such as MTV and TIME.

Our Mogul Advisors include:
  • Ann Sarnoff, COO of BBC Worldwide North America; Board of Directors at HSN, Inc.
  • Cathie Black, Former Chairman & President of Hearst Magazines
  • Michael Wolfson, Co-Founder of TheKnot.com; Former Chief Creative Officer at AOL
  • Will Bunker, Co-Founder of Match.com
  • James Benedict, Chief Learning Officer of Cavendish Global

Our Mogul Think Tank includes prominent female leaders like:
  • Adaora Udoji, President of News Deeply
  • Debbie Sterling, Founder & CEO of Goldieblox
  • Jennifer 8. Lee, Founder & CEO of Plympton & NYT Best-Selling Author
  • Jessica Peltz, Venture Capitalist at kbs+ Ventures
  • Kelly Hoey, Speaker & Strategist of JKellyHoey.co
  • Lisa Manowitz, Head of Partnerships at Pinterest, East Coast
  • Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR America
  • Mary Pflum, Emmy Award-Winning Producer of Good Morning America
  • Monica Raymund, Star of NBC's Chicago Fire & CBS's The Good Wife
  • Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films
  • Nicole Shariat Farb, Founder & CEO of Darby Smart
  • Dr. Rebecca Homkes, Faculty Member at London Business School
  • Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO of Girls Who Code
  • Sara Levinson, Board of Directors for Macy's & Harley Davidson and Former President of MTV & NFL Properties
  • Shaherose Charania, Founder & CEO of Women 2.0
  • Shiza Shahid, Co-Founder & Global Ambassador of Malala Fund

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Nautica Malibu Triathlon Humbles Me

 
Mausser Family Affair at Nautica Malibu Tri



 Well the big day came and went.

I am happy to report that I completed the Nautica Malibu Tri Classic Distance today and -- swimming, biking and running beside some really serious competitors was daunting -- I am very happy with my results.  

It dawned a humbling day.  Waiting an hour and five minutes for my swim wave to start was quite excruciating and a bit intimidating.  Within my women's 40-49 age group, there were many experienced racers.  Moments before our gun went off, House of Pain's "Jump Around" roared out of the speakers and more than one hundred 40 year olds got motivated. Forty is definitely the new 20!

The ocean conditions were the best in the 29 year history of the race and clear as can be; However, I did get a few kicks to the face and I did see a very dark 10 to 15 foot shadow below me at one point.  Jason's advice in hindsight:  "IF it was a shark or something that could bite you, it was more afraid of the racers than you are of it."  Hmmm....dressed like a seal and thrashing around with 100 other women dressed like seals...smorgasbord comes to my mind; But hell, I lived to tell about it.

The bike was shortened to (around) 17.8 miles at the last minute and thank you to the event director, Michael Epstein Sports Production.  It was a bit more challenging than expected but I did witness a lot of crashes and bike malfunctions so happy I completed it unscathed.  
 
Shane and Jon Cryer

The run is where I was able to make up my time and I completed the event with a solid 8 minute mile for 4 miles.

I came in 13th in my age group but was only a blip on the radar overall: 671 out of 1,622.

The event was a family affair for the Maussers.  Shane participated in the kids 100 yard dash for 11 and 12 year olds, and placed second.

 At the end of the day, it was really about Children's Hospital Los Angeles.  It was a star-studded event:  Jeffrey Tambor was the awards MC, KTLA's Chris Schauble, Tia Carrera, Phil Keoghan, the host of the amazing race, and John Cryer were among many other celebrities who participated.  (There were a lot of younger celebs but I am so old now that I am out of touch and didn't know who they were...honestly!)

Nautica Malibu Triathlon ended up raising more than $1.3 million dollars for our LA kids and their families who face challenges far greater and are way braver than any Triathlete in the event today.  

An amazing event for an amazing cause!

 http://www.chla.org/
 
 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tri-ing to Face My Fears and Race Out of my Comfort Zone

 
My Inspiration...


In two days, I will be participating in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon “Classic” distance which consists of a ½ mile swim, 18 mile bike ride and 4 mile run.  This is – by far – the longest event I have set my sights on, and to say I am nervous as hell is an understatement.


For those who know me personally or have read my blog over the years, I have a passion for running.  I have one full marathon, six or so half-marathons, and more 10K and 5K races than I can count under my belt; so one may think that triathlons would be a natural progression for a competitor like me.  Actually, it didn’t go down like that at all.

A few years ago, my neighbor Lisa started competing in Triathlons.  She suggested that I do one with her.  I smiled politely and said I would give it some thought but, in my head, I didn’t even consider the idea.
Now, I did grow up on the Jersey Shore and, during my youth, I spent a lot of time at the beach and in the Atlantic Ocean.  During the 70s, when I was my son Shane’s age, my BFF Dina and I would get up and go to the beach every day, all summer long. 

No parent was anchored to the shore checking to see if we were OK; I mean, why bother hiring life guards then.  Some days, I would rent an old school canvas raft to ride the waves or float to the last buoy; luckily, I never floated out to sea. But on most days, it would just be my beach towel, a brown bag lunch and my love of the Shore.  
However, when I moved to Southern California in 1994, the love affair ended. I can honestly say that, for more than 20 years, I could count the number of times I entered the Pacific Ocean in Southern California on one hand.  The cold temperature and its angry demeanor just didn’t seem inviting. To be honest, swimming in the ocean was a complete non-issue and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything until Shane opened my eyes.

Our boy has always loved the ocean and, when he was 18 months old, he jumped right in with no hesitation. To my dismay, it was January.
Today, Shane loves to boogey board and has surfed a little bit but mostly he just loves to swim.  I would always make a valiant effort to act like I enjoyed swimming with him but I would usually turn swim duty over to my husband Jason as quickly as possible.

It wasn’t only the discomforts of the Pacific, but it was also the fear of the unknown lurking under the gray, green waters.  When your local pier is a nursery for juvenile White Sharks, it can be very daunting.
On top of it all, when Shane was born, I became a complete worry wart:  I fretted if he ate too much; if he didn’t eat enough; if he was too hot; or too cold.  The thing was that, as he got older, my worrying seemed to get worse.

By the time he was in elementary school and I should be relishing in his independence, I was pretty much paralyzed with anxiety about all the things that could happen to him once he left the safety of my sights.  Luckily, I have a very normal husband who made light of my concern.  Shane is our only child and, for the most part, Jason has always balanced out my over-protectiveness. Yet realistically, I knew I wasn’t setting a very good example by being scared of my own shadow.
The bottom line: I realized that I had to grow some balls.  So, when Lisa approached me again about doing a Mini-Sprint Triathlon with her, I said yes.  She took me under her wing and showed me the ropes and, for the first time in my adult life, it felt good to be out of my comfort zone.

The running part was no problem and I knew I could at least ride a bike, but the swimming was definitely going to be a difficult.  I have never been a “strong swimmer” (my favorite Martin Short quote btw) or a sport swimmer by any means.  I made a soggy start swimming laps at my local gym.  I didn’t like water in my nose so I had nose plugs, swim cap, goggles that seemed to buoy up the bags under my eyes.  I was definitely a sight and not quite as glamorous as Esther Williams.
Slowly, I plugged away and my endurance grew.  Soon, I no longer needed the nose plugs and thank goodness because I could barely breathe while swimming.  I did almost my entire training in a 25 meter pool and, when Lisa asked if I was ready for an open ocean swim with her Triathlon Trainer, I knew that I wasn’t but replied, sure!

I realized very quickly that swimming in the ocean is much, much different than doing laps in a pool.  Going out that day, I got beat up a bit by some daunting waves and my goggles fogged up instantly. Once we got out past the wave break about 100 yards (the length of a football field), I realized that I had never been this far out in the ocean without some sort of flotation device and those bags under my eyes weren’t going to help me now.  
I felt blind and my fear was palpable.  The Tri Trainer said swim to the pier (about a quarter mile) and I thought to myself, there is no way I’m going to make it.  But the other women were already gone and my pride was beginning to prune, so I prepared to do the front crawl stroke. 

I put my face in the very murky and very deep water and the iconic cover of Peter Benchley’s novel, “Jaws” instantly popped into my mind.  I kept picturing myself swimming (OK with a wet suit and not naked) but with that giant Great White coming straight up to get me. 
Needless to say, I had a full blown panic attack.  I could not put my face in the water and tried swimming back stroke and then side stroke but the feeling of wanting to just scream and run was overwhelming.  The problem was that I couldn’t do either because I was 100 yards out to sea.  The trainer came by and talked me off the ledge and, I thought to myself, I need to pay him extra for his open ocean therapy session.  He did calm me down and said he had seen grown men more scared than me and I thought to myself, Shane would love this and he wouldn’t be scared. He would just do it.
LA Triathlon 2015:  Coming in 3rd EFS


With my little guy as my inspiration, I started to swim and made it to the pier but that was all I had in me and, once we were done, I was out of the water as fast as a shot.


I was very disappointed in myself after that first ocean swim and vacillated with the thought of quitting the race.  But I thought to myself, what kind of message would I send to Shane if I were to quit without even trying?

The days leading up to my first race – which consisted of a ¼ mile swim, 5 mile bike ride and 1.5 mile run – were excruciating.  I was so scared that I could barely eat or sleep.  It only got worse as the event approached and on the day of I was actually sick with anticipation.But come what may, I knew that I had to stick to my commitment.  In reality, all the organizing of the equipment and the over-thinking of the transitions were a comfort to me.

When I finally crashed through those first waves with the rest of the women in my division, I felt alive and a part of something that was much bigger than myself; And later when I crossed the finish line, the feeling of having faced some pretty big personal fears and accomplished something that I never, ever thought would be possible for me was exhilarating.

Today, I am not immune to my fears but I try not to let them beat me down. This coming Sunday in Malibu is no exception, but I know that as long as I have Shane cheering me on, I can do anything.




Friday, August 14, 2015

This Time It’ll be ‘Better Than Before’

Several months back, my bestie Rachel told me about a book that had really resonated with her.  The book, entitled The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, accounts the author’s year-long journey “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.”

During that time, Rachel would forward me blog posts, podcasts and “Rubin-isms” that she found inspiring.  I have to be honest, they really did interest me; however, I was hesitant. I’ve never met a self-help book that didn’t initially intrigue me but, inevitably, my interest would usually wane after the first few chapters.  

Point in case, my Nana was inspired by Suze Orman and bought me her book “9 Steps to Financial Freedom.” I started out the gate strong and was super motivated. I even bought Quicken ® and spent hours inputting all our data.  But by the 4th step, I was done and way more interested in the allegations that Orman was a 55-year old virgin.  Now that is an unhappy thought.

But Rachel’s referral stayed with me and, finally, I requested The Happiness Project from my local library.  I read the first chapter and was hooked until the very last page.  Rubin’s easy-going writing style and realistic approach to changing your life for the happier resounded with me as much as it did Rachel and, to the contrary of Orman, this made me very happy so I ran out and bought my very own copy which is very rare for me.

When I was done reading, I wanted more and this is how I stumbled upon Rubin’s most recent book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.

According to Rubin’s website, “As observed in the review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, 'The Happiness Project lays out life’s essential goals…Her new book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, serves as a kind of detailed instruction manual on how to achieve them.’”

Also, the site states, “Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.”

Yeah (fist pump)!  For those of you who have followed my blog, you know it has been sporadic at best over the past few years.  So, among the many habits that I would like to strengthen…you guessed it… I want to be more dedicated to my writing.  My priorities include (once again): posting to my blog on a regular basis; attending my writing group consistently; and continuing to plug away on my big writing project.

However, it's not just about writing one time, it is about being consistent and writing every day...forever!

I know that being creative makes me happy but, my role as a mom who works full-time and my family’s busy social life, has caused my writing to suffer the most.  I had allowed my writing to be pushed to the bottom of my To Do list day after day, so I was desperate to find a manageable way to get myself back on track and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives has given me the wherewithal to do so. 

On Rubin’s Blog, she posts, “Many experts suggest one-size-fits-all solutions for habit change — and boy, it would be great if there were one magical answer that helped everyone. But we’re all different, so different strategies work for different people.”

Ain’t that the truth?  I think that is why Rubin’s philosophy works so well for me personally because once you gain an understanding of certain Self-Knowledge – Tendencies and Distinctions – you have your own unique treasure map to forming good habits and, ironically, everyone’s map is different.  

According to Rubin, Tendencies fall into four categories: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger or Rebel.  Not surprisingly, I am an Upholder, a person who meets outer and inner expectations.  Also known as Type A personality perhaps?  If you want to find out your own tendency, please take the quiz.
   
https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1950137/Four-Tendencies-January-2015

However, Rubin also writes on her blog, “…it’s not enough to just know your Tendency; you must also recognize your Distinctions. (For instance, are you a Marathoner or Sprinter? Under-buyer or over-buyer? Finisher or Opener? Novelty-lover or Familiarity-lover?)"

Doesn't this just grab you?  Don't you want to know more?

Once you are able to identify your Tendencies and Distinctions, it is possible to start implementing the necessary strategies to modify your habits based on your personal predispositions to make or break practices.
  
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives  has chapters that provide the framework entitled: Pillars of Habits; The Best Time to Begin; Desire, Ease, and Excuses; and Unique, Just like Everyone Else.

One topic that I really gravitated toward was the section of Foundation which was a carry-over from The Happiness Project.  Rubin substantiates that by getting enough sleep, moving your body every day, eating and drinking healthfully, and un-cluttering your life anybody can build resilient habits with good bones.

Believe it or not, I haven’t actually finished the book yet, but I am so inspired I just had to write about it and share my excitement.  I have been working hard to implement Rubin’s common sensibilities – you are reading this post aren’t you – and find myself so much happier.  I know that I will stumble upon "Loopholes" and "Distractions" (you will just have to read the book) but I’m hoping that Rubin’s survival skills will help me to stick with it and at the very least help to stay on the straight and narrow.

So don’t worry, be happy!


To learn more about Gretchen Rubin and what she is about, visit http://gretchenrubin.com/

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just Breathe...



Photo: D. Jason Mausser

Have you ever felt as though you can’t breathe? I’m not talking about actually losing your source of oxygen but the surreal feeling that you just “can’t” take a deep breath.
 
During my senior year of college, I had a non-paying college internship but I was also working a few part-time jobs to pay my bills and supplement my college career.  On top of that, I commuted an hour in each direction – to my State University – twice a week for a 12 hour school day.  

I mean, have you ever looked at the calendar and said, “Wow, it is going to be 21 days until my next day off?”

Now, this is not a pity party.  I did what I had to do and actually was having a lot of fun doing it.  However, I reached a point to where being the energizer bunny 24/7 finally caught up with me, but I hadn’t even realized I was being chased until it was too late.

One day, while commuting to my University, I started to feel like my heart was going to beat out of my chest while my clammy hands felt like pins and needles.  Also, I started to hyperventilate and, the more I thought about it, the worse it became.

I pulled off to the side of the road and got a grip, but I was still shaky and having a hard time catching my breath for the rest of the day.  I had a few more episodes like this and decided it was time to see my doctor.

The Doc asked me some general inquiries about my life, diet, exercise and the nature of these episodes; He then diagnosed me with Anxiety or Panic Attacks.  He told me that I should cut back on work (how could I afford it?); get more sleep (when?); and to try and take it easy (impossible!).  So, he sent me on my way with one prescription (no refills) of Xanax to get me through to the end of the year.

I am happy to report that, once I had graduated from college, the Anxiety Attacks pretty much went away.  Over the next two decades, I would get one here and there if things were pretty stressful but, for the most part, they were fleeting…until a year ago.

I was dismayed that I started getting those darn Anxiety Attacks again. Yet, they came at a time when I was under a lot of stress, so it was not surprising; but here I am a year later and I’m still getting them periodically even though I don’t have any “true” stress in my life.

Once again, I set out to consult a doctor but, this time; it was an acupuncturist who also specializes in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

I don’t like to take any drugs if I can help it and that even includes over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Advil; so there would be no Xanax prescribed here.

Dr. Chung suggested some herbs to help me relax but, most importantly, he told me to meditate and relax.

You would think that would be total common sense right?  Well, I did and that is why it made me feel hopeless.  I had been trying to meditate for years now.  

A few years ago, I had an affair with yoga and would spend the entire class just dying for the instructor to say it was time to get into Shavasana or corpse pose.  This is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice because Shavasana allows the body to regroup and reset itself.

  I know that benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include:


·         A decrease in heart rate
·         A decrease in blood pressure
·         A decrease in muscle tension
·         A decrease in the metabolic rate and consumption of oxygen (hello!)
·         A reduction in general anxiety (hello!)
·         A reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks (hello!)
·         An increase in focus

Yet, I am unable to shut my brain down enough to meditate and realize these positive effects.  I’ve tried numerous times and it always ends with me thinking about the most random thoughts such as what we should have for dinner; or even worse I fall asleep.

So, I have yet to find my way to Nirvana, but I haven’t given up trying and, believe it or not, technology has helped me to bliss out.  

A few times a week, I set my timer on my iPhone for 3 minutes and, while sitting at my desk, I focus on breathing in and out for three seconds each, respectively.  My mind still wanders but, if I’m having minor anxiety, it does help to relax me.

Also, I downloaded a free app that offers a creative visualization meditation before going to bed. My son and I have been doing it together and we both find that it does help to wind us down for bedtime.

I am trying my best, but I know that it is not enough if I want to banish anxiety from my life.  I must find the time to meditate and make it a daily occurrence. I wrote this post to get my message out there to the Universe so hopefully, tomorrow, I can just breathe.

Namaste!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Louis Vuitton Fashion Exhibit Electrifies Los Angeles


Photo: Tracy Mausser
Be quick Los Angeles area fashionistas!  There are mere days left to see one of the most Vogue-centric art installations by the decadent French fashion house Louis Vuitton.

The free exhibit called "Louis Vuitton Series 2 - Past, Present, Future" was fashioned by LV creative director Nicolas Ghesquière and is housed in a massive Hollywood warehouse.  However, its doors close on Sunday Feb. 22 so don't miss your chance to see the inspiration behind Ghesquière's latest collection in a marvelous mixed-media revelation.

A sequence of seven idiosyncratic rooms -- which include lots of flashing lights, talking holograms, multiple-mirrors and the secrets behind LV's impeccable craftsmanship -- highlights Ghesquière's influences behind the sumptuous Spring 2015 collection. 

Dont' miss Series 2: Past, Present, Future which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1135 Highland Avenue, Hollywood until Sunday Feb. 22, 2015.  The cost is free.


Photo: Tracy Mausser

Photo: Tracy Mausser

Photo: Tracy Mausser
 
Photo: Tracy Mausser

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dive Into Spring with Warby Parker's SS 2015 Eyeware Collection

 
Credit: Warby Parker
With the start of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SS15 in New York, we can anticipate many fashion trends such as feathers, leather and fashion-forward white frocks hitting the catwalk this week. Yet, it seems that the only white most of the nation is wearing these days is the cold, snowy kind; However, with Warby Parker's new Spring 2015 eyewear collection, you can actually see the warm weather on the horizon.

Warby Parker, an affordable and socially-conscious eyewear design brand, has launched a spring collection reminiscent of a day at the beach.

According to Warby Parker, the season's eight new shapes and six new colors have added depth (literally).  Classic at first glance but look a little deeper and you'll discover nautical design details borrowed from the open sea: anchor-hued titanium blended with blue coral acetate, sandy shades modeled after rippling ocean floors, saltwater matte finishes, jellyfish-inspired tortoise, and more -- including a handful of solid standbys.

Credit: Warby Parker
The brand -- which was founded with the goal to offer cost-effective designer eyewear while leading the way for a socially responsible business -- bypasses traditional processes. 

By designing the glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, they are able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.


The outcome yields chic frames -- for both men and women -- that highlight the brand's charm and class.  With names such as Theo Striped Beach, Sullivan Saltwater Matte with Red Seaweed Matte, and Chalmer Whiskey Tortoise, these easy-to-wear frames reflect a modern and fashionable sensibility that will see you through the season ahead.

Credit: Warby Parker
In addition, Warby Parker believes that everyone has a right to see.  According to their website, almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses which means that 15% of the world's population cannot effectively learn or work. 

To help address this problem, Warby Parker partners with non-profits like VisionSpring (http://visionspring.org) to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

With the help of its customers, Warby Parker has distributed over a million pairs of glasses to people in need.

Now that's a day at the beach.

Starting at $95, the Warby Parker Spring 2015 Collection is available at https://www.warbyparker.com/eyeglasses




Monday, January 19, 2015

Does the Devil or an Angel Really Wear Prada?

Photo via Pinterest




I practically live in my rag & bone duds because they are über comfortable and fit my lifestyle at the beach to a tee; however, I never really thought about how this American fashion label made it into my closet until I started watching the realty television series, The Fashion Fund, on the Ovation channel.

In 2006, Marcus Wainwright and David Nevelle, the designers behind rag & bone, were only finalists in the Council of Fashion Designers of America's (CFDA) Vogue Fashion Fund; however, the exposure from “The Fund” boosted the brands popularity.

And rag & bone is not alone:  Designers such as Proenza Schouler, Doo.ri, Rodarte, Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, Thom Browne and Public School (just to name a few) have become household names thanks to the endowment that helps to support the next generation of American fashion designers.

Thank God for Netflix because I first became aware of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in the 2005 documentary Seamless.  I was riveted as Fashion photographer Douglas Keeve followed three hopeful finalists of The Fund in their journey through the competition, which was created in response to the effects that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York City had on the American fashion industry.  9/11 happened during Fall/Winter Fashion Week of 2001 and, a lot of fledgling American designers – who had invested everything in their presentations that year – lost it all when the shows were cancelled.  

According to Anna Wintour, the primary focus of CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is to help young designers succeed in the marketplace.  “The fund started because it became so evident to us at Vogue that young talent both in New York and on a worldwide basis needed help,” Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue remarks in the 2005 documentary Seamless. “It is something those of us at Vogue certainly have been very aware of over the years especially after 9/11. That was the catalyst, as tragic as it was, that made us realize that we are in a position to help these young people.”

So it seems that Wintour and her Selection Committee of fashion luminaries have become guardian angels to these 10 designers who compete over a four month period to prove that one designer has what it takes to be named Fashion Fund Designer of the Year.

Like its documentary movie counter-part, The Fashion Fund television show continues to profile and document all 10 designers who get to work with the Wintour and her team of fashion gurus, who include: iconic fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg; Jenna Lyons, Creative Director and President of J. Crew; Ken Downing, Sr. VP of Niemen Marcus; Mark Holgate, Fashion News Director of Vogue; Andrew Rosen, Founder and CEO of Theory; designer Reed Krakoff; and Steven Kolb, CEO of CFDA.

The eligibility requirements for the Fashion Fund aren’t for the feint of heart or novice as the CFDA requires a designer of discernible talent- i.e. have garnered substantial and recent editorial coverage, and have support (orders) from top retailers; The primary design business based in the United States has to have a minimum of two years in business; and boast a  professional staff, paid or volunteer, which can devote the time and effort required to accomplish the stated aims of an applicant’s design career plans.

The reason the requirements are so strict is that the award comes with $300,000 monetary award and a one-year mentorship with some of the biggest names in fashion which makes the television series so fun to watch.

First of all, it has been enlightening to watch the Grand Dame of Fashion interact with the mere mortals on the show.  Wintour really does seem like a scary human being but the show certainly reveals, at times, a more human side to her.  The committee on the whole is a pack of bull dogs but – since they are propelling these young designers’ careers – they are brutally honest and expect full-disclosure; nothing is off limits and they hold these designers accountable to the highest echelon.

The Fashion Fund show documents the various stages of the competition. Right out of the gate, the show does not disappoint. In one phase, the Selection Committee visits the design studios and meets with each of the 10 finalists.  

I love the interaction between the designers and fashions greats during these one-on-one visits. In this most recent season, Designer Tanya Taylor starts off on the wrong foot with the Queen of Vogue.  After realizing that Taylor moved her showroom since the application process, Wintour and Lyons end up hoofing it all over Manhattan to find Taylor’s new location. The cameras are following them as they use Lyon’s iPhone GPS to try and figure out where they are going and it seems to be in circles at one point.

Wintour arrives at Taylor’s new studio in a huff and spats at the young designer that alerting The Fund of an address change is designer 101.  Taylor is completely caught off guard but, in my opinion, handles the wrath of Wintour as well as can be expected. When the bubbly, young designer shows Wintour a rack of laser cut leather garments, she lets Taylor know the garments “look cheap;” However, Lyons swoops in to save the day.  She is calm, cool and collective and counters the biting remark by offering advice on how Taylor can make the laser cutting look better.  

So, what makes the show so heavenly is that, despite the angel wings, it is possible to see a little bit of that alleged Wintour devil peak through and color the show red.

The first two seasons of the The Fashion Fund are available On-Demand on Ovation.  Find Ovation in your area by visiting http://www.ovationtv.com/zipcode