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The girl who would change my life

20 years ago, God gave me a miracle and I didn't even know it. Pretty Preggie DeShong Perry-Smitherman and Codi Symone's dad - moments after her birth.

Twenty years ago this month, God blessed me with a  miracle, and I didn’t even know it.  I was a selfish 16- year-old in my senior year of high school when I gave birth to Codi Symone.  Back then, researchers concluded that the reason most girls got pregnant as teens was the quest to have someone or something to call their own.  I was not that girl.   I was class president, captain of our cheerleading squad, a track team sprinter, and the worst possible power forward ever positioned on a basketball team.  Yet, even with my busy schedule, practices and responsibilities, I still made time to bow down to peer pressure and do the thing everyonewas talking about with a boy who knew how to charm the you-know-what’s off my you-know-what.  

1992. Pretty Preggie DeShong Perry-Smitherman with Codi Symone.

If someone were to ask me 20 years ago whether those five minutes (yes 5) were worth the trouble and pain and sacrifice of becoming a teen mother, my answer would have been a quick and nippy ‘’HELL NO.”  But, 20 years later, as I look at the first great gift God gave me I realize that without her there would be no me – at least not the DeShong I am today. 

So today – I’m honoring my firstborn with a list of the things I love about her.  A friend of mine does this every year for her daughters birthdays – and I’m borrowing from her tradition.

Codi decides to plank while we're at the pool. She's both fun and funny.

You are funny and  fun! Whether it’s singing in the car, planking at the swimming pool or playing with the grocery cart at Meijer, I love the fun times we have.  I hope I don’t embarrass you too much.
You are generous.  You don’t make a whole lot of money at the pet store, but when you do, you’re always willing to shell out a few dollars for a meal.  I also love it when you take your time to mentor young girls through A Girl’s Gift Inc.  They look up to you and you have tried hard to set a good example.  You’ve had a few bumps along the way, but you try.
You are smart and nobody’s doormat.

I was in college in this picture. Codi was around three years old. She was always so happy to see me when I came home each night from class.

I know I always get on you about your mean streak.  But a good friend of mine suggested that it’s not always a bad thing.  I love the fact that you are smart and have enough respect for yourself to not allow men or women to walk all over you.  Keep it up.  It will help you in the career world too.  You just need to learn the art of being “nice-nasty.”  My good friend could write the book!
You are learning how to cook! 
Thank God for the crockpot.  Enough said.  
You take such great care of your baby sister.
It always amazes me how #2 reacts to seeing her big sister.  She gets so excited when you come into the room.  She smiles, kicks her little legs and screams: Hi TT (her nickname for you).  She loves you so much because you were her caregiver when I had to go back to work.  You’ve also given so much time and love to her now that you are back home in college.  She appreciates it.  I appreciate it. 

Codi, #2, and Secondhand Pretty Preggie DeShong Perry-Smitherman in downtown Indianapolis.

You take such great care of me.
You take off my shoes at the end of the day and rub my back when I’m tired.  You even pick out my clothes for me and make sure my Secondhand Pretty Preggie pictures are as tight as can be.  You will wake up in the middle of the night to do the layout for my blog when I’m just took sleepy to look at a computer.  You are my number one fan and cheerleader!  

Codi was Tina Turner in the Cardinal Ritter High School talent show. I believe she was in 7th grade in this picture.

You are a trendsetter.  And you’re making money because of it!  I love your vision for style and the drive you have for your business Witty Knits by Codi.  Whether it’s a poncho, scarf, hat or feathered necklace or earrings, you amaze me with your imagination and passion for fashion.

Witty Knits by Codi hat and scarf - croched by Codi earlier this month.

You know what I need even when I have no idea.
My keys.  My wallet.  My iPad.  My cell phone.  You are on it!  Always finding the things I need to help me get out of the house on time. 

Codi Symone. Smart, beautiful, God-fearing, creative, funny, fun and fabulous.

You are beautiful inside and out.
Don’t wait for someone else to tell you this.  Continue to believe it for yourself. 
You are growing in your relationship with God. 
I see it and I am proud of you.  Last week you wanted to sit alone at church, you said, to have a few quiet moments with God.  I’m glad you see His power and love.  It will continue to guide you through your life’s journey.  I’m so glad He blessed me with your presence in my life.  You were a tiny miracle 20 years ago – and I didn’t realize it then.  Don’t know what I’d do without you. 

Happy Birthday Codi!  Mommy loves you so much.  Now, make me something with your new sewing machine!

DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

My right one and my left one: The two things I’ll miss most about being pregnant

 

From Ohhhh Mama to Milk Machine: In a matter of weeks, I'll be saying goodbye to these wonderful, lively, perfect preggie boobies and hello to heavy, sore, tigobitties filled with food for a hungry newborn.

 

IABJ celebrity bartenders at our fundraiser mixer at Cosmo Knights. Pictured: Donna Schiele (Radio One), Amber Stearns (WIBC/Network Indiana), Jason Spells (WRTV 6), Voluptuous Pretty Preggie DeShong Perry-Smitherman (IABJ President and TV News producer), Kyla Williamson Woods (WRTV and Radio One), Deanna Dewberry (WISH).

As I enter the final stretch of what may surely be my last pregnancy, I think about the three things I’ll miss the most:  chivalry, eating for two and especially the twins that have miraculously grown upon my chest!  In a matter of weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to these wonderful, lively, perfect preggie boobies and hello to heavy, sore, tigobitties filled with food and nutrients for a hungry newborn.  Whew!  The changes we go through to birth these babies! 

Secondhand Pretty Preggie DeShong Perry-Smitherman with Mark Bryant and Hyacinth Rucker. Hyacinth did a wonderful job organizing our fundraiser. I'm sorry my big belly is covering you up!

Last night, at an IABJ fundraiser mixer, I was reminded of just how much attention preggie breasts can get.  Not only did two guys engage in conversation with my chest instead of my eyes, but three of my girlfriends (all happily married and moms themselves) openly complimented the twins.  They used words and phrases like:  “nice, bouncy, perfect and I miss my preggie boobs!”  One of my friends even touched the right one!  LOL.  I guess she couldn’t believe the transformation!   Believe me, I can’t either.  But unfortunately, these perfect tatas will be short-lived.  After delivery, and a few months of nursing, I’ll be back to B-cup land. 

As the saying goes:  The Lord giveth and He taketh away.  I just hope the twins don’t look like ribbons by this time next year.  That’s what happens when you become a milk machine – and I can hardly wait!

Fresh Fettle's Danielle Smith, WRTV/Radio One's Kyla Williamson Woods and Goodwill Industries Kyna Willis. Beautiful ladies at last night's event.

IABJ PR/Marketing chair Kyna Lee Willis jammin' on the dance floor! Go 'head Pretty girl!

AM 1310's Afternoons with Amos host Amos Brown.

DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

Secondhand quick tip: How dressing like a Hoochie Mama can save the day!

Not a Hoochie mama in this picture. But there have been several times I've taken home the title - when there's no dressing room available at my favorite thrift store. (BTW - this outfit was a gift to me from my dear friend Ericka. It's past the season to wear white, but I really wanted to show off this picture!)

One of the major inconveniences thrifty divas run into are the stores with no dressing room. It can be quite annoying to find a piece that looks like it’s perfect for you, but there’s nowhere to try it on! And – because most sales are final, if the “fit” doesn’t fit you’re pretty much stuck with it! Two of the worst culprits I’ve found are Value World and Salvation Army stores. Both lure you in with their low prices, but when you look around for a room to try out your find, you get a closed door with a tacky sign reading: DRESSING ROOM CLOSED. 

There are NO dressing rooms at Salvation Army stores. You'll want to wear clothing that allows you to try on outfits.

But, alas, my dears, there’s a way around it! You just have to know how to dress the part. Because I’m living a bit too large to show you (nearly 9 months preggers), I’ve drafted Codi – my oldest daughter – to demonstrate this age old style secret.

Step #1: Dress like a Hoochie Mama

Step #1 – Dress like a Hoochie Mama: Codi wears a pair of skin tight leggings. (Please note: I usually don’t approve of my child dressing like a Hoochie, but it’s okay for the purposes of the Pretty Preggie blog).

Step #2 - Find your fabulous fit!

Step #2 – Find your fabulous fit: Codi found a skirt she absolutely loved – a multi-colored Missoni (originally sold at Chicago’s Marshall Fields for $525, then marked down to $189, then marked down to $1 at the Carmel-West Goodwill).

Step #3 – Slip it on:Codi easily slipped the skirt over her Hoochie Mama leggings. 

Step #3: Slip it on!

It fit perfectly! The leggings are also great for slipping on pants or shorts when there’s no dressing room.

One other way of trying on clothes when no dressing room is available, is to find an inconspicuous corner of the store and have a friend hold a coat in front of you as you attempt your quick change. I warn, you may become a prime target for thrill-seeking gawkers – or earn the permanent Hoochie Mama label if a strong wind blows down that coat!

Be careful, save time, and don’t feel bad about being a Hoochie.  It’s fun and you’ll have a great excuse.

DeShong Perry-Smitherman, The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

*By the way, the Carmel West Goodwill has plenty of dressing rooms. 

Pretty Preggie Spotlight: Designer Outlet Fine Consignments (Indianapolis)

I love this dress! It was less than $3.50 at Designer Outlet Fine Consignments (Indianapolis).

Designer Outlet Fine Consignments
1349 West 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN  46260
317-255-3228
Hours:  Monday – Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-4
Owner:  Ellen T. Smith
 
Sights: I knew there was something unique about this place, but I couldn’t quite put my swollen preggie finger on it right away.  As I waddled around Designer Outlet, I found myself wanting to touch and try on so many of its eclectic offerings. 

1960s vintage hat embellished with scarlet feathers. $14!

From the 1960s helmet style vintage hat embellished with scarlet feathers, to a 1980s Escada multi-colored sweater, to a rich, black velvet cape adorned with bold white, rhinestones. 

Black velvet cape adorned with bold white, rhinestones. I was too big to try it on.

The only problem?  I couldn’t fit any of my favorite finds because of the size of my big head and diameter of my nearly-9 month preggie belly.  Nonetheless, I found this quaint, mid-size boutique a refreshing, one-of-a-kind for Indy for three reasons:  (1) The owner accepts both up-to-date and rare, gently used vintage pieces, (2) she consigns fur coats and jackets at affordable prices, and (3) several of her consigners ship in their clothing from cities like New York, Los Angeles and Denver. 

Several of Designer Outlet's consigners ship in their clothing from cities like New York, Los Angeles and Denver.

The third fact is what would keep me coming back – the possibility that I could be the only woman in central Indiana rocking a fashionable fit mailed here from a distant place.  Isn’t it the reason so many of us spend much of our lives shopping for splendid clothing - the hope that our rare selection will be the  crowned jewel of the room?  Well, Designer Outlet Fine Consignments gives you that chance.. a chance at show-stopping glory!
 
Sounds:  Local radio stations that play anything but rap. Hallelujah!  My ears can’t take the new stuff anyway!
Sizes:  Petite to plus.

Owner Ellen T. Smith holds one of her eclectic feather-embellished hats. She's been in the consignment business for more than 25 years.

Labels:  Ann Taylor, Ann Klein, Banana Republic, BCBG, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Dana Buchman, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Ellen Tracy, Escada, Free People, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, J. Crew, Jil Sander, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, St. John, Tahari – and more.
 
What’s in it for Pretty Preggies:  No maternity rack, but many high-end trendy, high end and vintage dresses and tops that would fit over a preggie belly. I purchased a DKNY top, Ann Taylor Loft top, Tahari top and a dress (designer’s tag cut out) for under $13 – all from the sales rack in the back of the store. 
 
Price range: $ – $$$  From bargain basement  on the sales rack to shelling out a pretty penny on the high-end designer and fur racks.  Clothing is usually priced at 20% to 30% of the original retail pric, depending on condition.  Make sure to pay close attention to the date on your tag.  It determines the discount on your selection.  Most consignment stores I’ve visit use the colored tag system.

The hat that got away. Didn't want to break my over $10 rule!

 
Consigning with Designer Outlet:  Consignment period is 90 days.  The price of your items will be reduced by 20% off the original price after 30 days, 40% after 60 days, and 60% after 90 days.  Additional markdowns for seasonal and special event sales. 

Sheared mink/reversible $2,798.00

 

Persian lamb/mink reversible $2,099

Extras:  (1)  Fur coats galore – various lengths and types – more than I’ve seen at any local consignment store  (2)  They offer pick up service for clients with large quantities of clothing  or special needs (3) Layaway available with 50% down. 
 
Suggestion for Designer Outlet:  Create a website and Facebook page.  Potential clients and customers would love to see your offerings on their phones and computer screens.
 
What makes this place special:  The funny, fun and feisty sales manager who won’t allow me to publish her name!  My favorite quote from her on why she’ll never wear vintage clothes:  “Young people can wear vintage and look cool.  Old people can wear it and look old — that’s why I refuse to do vintage.” 
 
Hope you enjoy this spot as much as I did!
 
DeShong Perry -Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

Pretty Preggie calls in sick

Loving this hat from Designer Outlet Fine Consignments - just $12. Of course, I left it there - it goes over my Pretty Preggie budget. Check out tomorrow's spotlight on this shop.

No deep, thought-provoking, or funny post from this Pretty Preggie today.  I am sick, dog-tired, and under heavy blankets at home.  Can’t blame it on the baby – just a horrible, annoying cold, sore throat and sneezing fits!  I did want to leave you with just a snippet of style though!  I am loving this hat I found at Designer Outlet Fine Consignments in Indianapolis.  Stay tuned for my Spotlight on this shop tomorrow morning.  Till then, stay sick-free unlike me.

DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

The Ugly Truth about this Pretty Preggie: Part II – No longer driving through life

We stopped driving through life long enough to pick a pumpkin with my family. Now, ain't that livin'?

About two weeks ago, I wrote an entry called: The Ugly Truth about this Pretty Preggie. In it, I talked about the news boss who pulled me aside one day and told me to slow down, stop driving through life and take time to smell life’s roses.

Many of my former KPNX coworkers could not believe Mark Casey, known for his blunt demeanor and tough exterior would take the time to share such words of wisdom. In fact, I’ve fielded many responses to that post from people in my former news family whose experiences were total opposite:

“Mark Casey is (not so pretty words).. that is unless you are a producer. If you’re a producer you can go OJ on someone and he’ll defend you to the end. Glad to know he treated one person decent.” – From an email sent by “ Real Angst”

“Mark never treated me poorly, mostly because I stuck to my values and beliefs. However, I witnessed how he treated others whom I respected. I understood his position in the Newsroom but believe we need to treat people with respect if we want that respect back. That was Mark’s downfall and the mass exodus of the newsroom staff in a 2-year time period. In the end, we’ve all learned from the experience and became stronger because of it.” :-) – From a Facebook response from a former KPNX employee

“To be honest as well, I’m surprised those words came from Mark’s mouth, but he is so right.” –From a Facebook response from a former KPNX employee

DeShong Perry and Mark Casey

My former bossed exposed an ugly truth about me. I remember his words nine years later. I am so thankful for his advice, tough love and wisdom.

I want everyone to know that my four years in Phoenix and especially in Mark Casey’s corner office were not all filled with sunshine, roses and hugs at the end of the day. There were times I felt I could never measure up; days when producing made me sick, and tears that once fell in Mark’s office when he implored me to show respect to a manager who didn’t even deserve to be in our newsroom. I left shortly thereafter. Looking back, I can’t even remember that manager’s name.

During those four years, I grew in so many ways. I became more independent as a mother, and a TV news producer. I learned that even after tears in the corner office, I could shake it off and move my own mountains. I learned that if I felt a manager had his/her foot on the back of my neck, I could do one of two things: continue to take the crap or get the hell out! I truly respected Mark Casey as a boss, but I loved and respected myself even more. That’s why I packed up and moved back to the Midwest after getting a job at my current station. I would advise the same for anyone who felt they’re 9 to 5 caused undo stress, humiliation and (in my case) a literal pain in the neck! You have the power to move your mountains and you can’t put the blame of your current circumstance on anyone else – if you choose to stay in it!

My girls! This was the first time I took the time to pick a pumpkin with my 20-year-old! I hope she forgives me.

Mark’s advice to stop driving through life has caused me to pause so many times over the years – especially now that I have a 20-year-old, a toddler and a baby in utero. I must resist the temptation to drive through life. I must take time to spend with my husband and children. On Sunday, I did something with my Honeydew and daughters that I’ve never done before.

Pretty Preggie at the pumpkin patch! We chose a pumpkin the size of my belly! (I'm wearing a non-preggie Ann Taylor Loft top from Designer Outlet Fine Consignments (Indianapolis) - just $2.50! The preggie jeans and Gap jacket I'm wearing are re-runs from a past blogs)

Mommy and her favorite girls.

I took my big beautiful preggie behind to a manmade pumpkin patch and helped our family find the perfect squash for our humble home.

My soon-to-be middle child. Looking forward to more pumpkin patches with you!

It was fun, painless and very special – something that I’ve missed out on every year til now because I allowed work and extracurricular stuff to get in the way. 

Not anymore.  

In love, peace and pumpkins,

 DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie 

The Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists – My other baby

The Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists.

For nearly eight years, I have been a member of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists.  We are a small  but mighty group of about 40 media professionals who work in TV and newspaper newsrooms, universities, nonprofits, PR firms and radio stations across central Indiana. 

IABJ Vice President Leisa Richardson (Indianapolis Star) and Student Affairs Co-Chair Deanna Dewberry (WISH-TV).

We love our IABJ babies! They were participants in IABJ's High School Multimedia workshop at Butler University. It's just one of the great events IABJ produced this year.

Over the past year,  IABJ has been my other baby!  I’ve had the privilege of serving as its president – an honor I don’t take lightly.  My job entails representing IABJ at all events, presiding over dozens of meetings, writing grant proposals, helping to coordinate fundraisers and trying my best to motivate our members to give of their time, talent and money to high school and college kids who think they want to be multimedia journalists. 

WTHR news anchor Andrea Morehead with budding journalists from our High School Multimedia Workshop.

Did I mention that members of our small and mighty crew do it all for free?  If you could see our success story in action, you’d understand why.

Channel 13 meteorologist and IABJ Member Chris Wright shows one of our high school students how to forecast the weather.

This year IABJ led several successful endeavors including:  producing a day-long internship readiness workshop at Ball State University, and running a week-long overnight multimedia workshop at Butler University! 

IABJ members and Ball State University students after our Intenship Readiness Workshop. Spring 2011.

In all, we touched the lives of about 70 young students this year,  by exposing them to what we do, taking them into our newsrooms, and serving as mentors for many of them even as their workshops ended.  We also give out scholarships each year to deserving high school and college students who’ve shown a strong desire, experience and educational interest (i.e. grades) in our field.

Next February, IABJ will celebrate 20 years of service with a formal reception at WFYI.  To kick off our event, we are hosting a fundraiser mixer from 6:30pm to 9pm next Thursday at Cosmo Knights (3338 North Illinois Street, Indianapolis).  $10 gets you in the door for live music, celebrity bartenders (Indy-area TV, newspaper and radio personalities), and great drinks!  It will also be a wonderful opportunity to network with multimedia professionals from all across our city.  Your $10 donation will go toward our scholarship and program budget for 2012!

I hope you can join us for our kick off. 

IABJ members Hyacinth Rucker (Vice President) and Kyla Williamson Woods (Fundraising team) take a break from our meeting for a Pretty pose. (I'm wearing a non-preggie dress by Apt. 9 - got it from Salvation Army for just $1.15 - half off sale)

Our fundraising team is working hard to make it a fun event!

Have an awesome weekend!

DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty  Preggie

Pretty Preggie’s night with the Beast

After work I changed clothes and headed to Butler University for a date with my oldest girl and the cast and crew of Beauty and the Beast.

I love Broadway shows.  The only problem?  I live in a city known more for its 500 mile race, franchise restaurants, and broke-neck Quarterback than an appreciation for fine theater.  So when there’s a rare chance to see a stage production with the characters I love, time and money go out the window and I find a way to get a seat!  That’s exactly what I did Tuesday night.  After 10 long, stubborn hours of work I changed clothes, hopped in my ride and headed to Butler University for a date with my big girl and the cast and crew of Beauty and the Beast.  I had no idea the night would be such an inspiration for my daughter.

Codi is the one person I know who can take a feather, some beads and old pantyhose and create a thing of beauty.

Codi, my oldest, is a 19-year-old college student who always claims to be grown.  But on this night, she was just as giddy about seeing the musical as the little girls who came dressed up like Belle.  From beginning to end, I watched her face light up with laughter, joy and a sincere love for the awesome spectacle taking place before our eyes.  From the vocal range of the main characters, to the music, set changes and choreography, she wondered aloud about how amazing it was that someone could take a concept as simple as children’s book and deliver it to a level as beautiful and dynamic as this production. 

She designed this necklace that dressed up my plain maroon top.

I reminded her that she too had this power, talent and creativity within.  Codi is the one person I know who can take a feather, some beads and old pantyhose and create a thing of beauty.  The trick for her is to see and believe and act on that God-given talent.  When we got home late Tuesday night, my girl went into her studio (a section of her room), and whipped up two sets of earrings, two necklaces and some feather-embellished shoes.  She calls it her “Feather Freak” line.

I find it amazing what one can do when exposed to the arts.  It was the simple beauty of what she saw on stage, that provoked my daughter to do something amazing that night.  Children who don’t ever get the chance to leave the hood grow up with minds confined to a cell of what’s familiar to them.  I’m so happy that I’ve had opportunities – small and large - to expose my Codi to the things that trigger her own ingenuity. 

Inspired by what she saw on stage that night,  she said to me, “I’m a beauty.. and a BEAST!”  If being a BEAST is a good thing, I believe she is.

DeShong Perry-Smitherman

The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

These are her embellished shoes. She didn't like her toes that day. Lol.

When we got home, Codi whipped up earrings, necklaces and some feather-embellished shoes. She calls it her "Feather Freak" line.

Pretty Preggie Spotlight: Salvation Army Family Thrift Store & Donation Center

A true Salvation Army lover realizes the search and rescue of fabulous finds for ridiculously low prices is worth the time it takes to cut through the clutter.

Pretty Preggie Spotlight:  Salvation Army Family Thrift Store & Donation Center

Salvation Army Family Thrift Store & Donation Center


3620 Bethany Rd, Indianapolis, IN  46268
Phone:  317-471-8262
 
If there’s ever a shopping spot where I  leave needing a hot shower to get rid of the grime, it’s the Salvation Army.  No matter which location I travel to, I go home feeling the same:  baptized in the funk of crawlspace clothes, Frito feet and grandma’s attic.  But as I always say, there are several saving graces to any Sal’s:  No one will bother you, everyone is helpful, and if you are a true treasure hunter, you will leave with clothes, shoes, boots and even jewelry that costs pennies compared to normal retail, resale and consignment store prices.
 

This place is absolutely, positively, fabulous and tacky at the same time!

Sights:  This place is absolutely, positively, fabulous and tacky at the same time!  First off, you’ll need a map to navigate through your shopping adventure.  The signage here is limited to four walls that point out the women’s, men’s and housewares areas.  There is no additional signage to let you know where to find skirts, tops, dresses and blazers.  But a true Salvation Army lover is okay with the confusion, because she realizes that the search and rescue of fabulous finds for ridiculously low prices is worth the time it takes to cut through the clutter.  Sal’s has everything from high-end vintage coats to wraparound dresses that never go out of style.  No matter your age, size or socioeconomic level, it’s a shopping spot that has something for every taste.
 
Smells:  Sensitive noses need not  shop here.  The stuffy, musty odor of lived-in clothes permeates every square foot of this huge Family store.  At Sal’s, it seems many donors could care less about washing, dry cleaning or steaming their clothes before dropping them off in the back of the building.  In fact, be careful not to take home something that came straight from a donor’s dirty clothes hamper.  There is little or no care taken toward improving the look or smell of the clothing you buy here – a great way for Sal’s to keep overhead costs down.
 
 Labels:  Everything!  From Dickies to Dior.  You name it, it’s there!

There is NO dressing room and limited mirrors. You'll want to wear clothing that allows you to try on outfits.

 
What’s in it for Pretty Preggies:  No maternity section.  But, I found two wrap dresses, a beautiful top and a wonderful vintage jacket – all for just $7.49 – half off the original price!
 
Sizes:  All sizes.
Sounds:  Christian and gospel music.
Price ranges:  $ – Extremely low.  Sal’s also honors the color label system.  Half-off on the color of the week.Helpful Hints:  Pack your hand sanitizer and latex gloves if you’re a germaphobe.   Also, there is NO dressing room and limited mirrors. You’ll want to wear clothing that allows you to try on outfits.  I’d wear a thin tank (for slipping on tops and dresses) and a long, flowing skirt (to try on pants/jeans).  You could also ask an attendant to allow you to use a bathroom to try on outfits.     
 

This dress cost $1.10! Sal's has everything from high-end vintage coats to wraparound dresses that never go out of style.

Why I love this place:  It may sound strange, but Sal’s actually brings out the creativity in me.  Because it’s full of vintage coats, jackets and dresses, I go into a different kind of shopping mold.  I become a huntress – looking for outfits that are more imaginative and less conservative.  Over the years, I’ve found that the most compliments I’ve gotten about my clothing, come from the steals and deals I’ve gotten from Salvation Army and Goodwill stores.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I also LOVE Sal’s because the folks at the register will cut you a deal!
 
Enjoy your thrifty adventures at Salvation Army!  It’s worth the work!
 
DeShong Perry-Smitherman
The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

Pretty Preggie shopping tip: How to spot a counterfeit handbag (or bogus boyfriend)

These handbags are real! Check 'em out at Butterfly consignment! (I'm wearing a beautiful DKNY top from In Vogue Consignment - under $5. The black shrug is compliments of a retired Pretty Preggie)

Did you know there’s a correlation between fake handbags and bogus boyfriends?  I took a trip to Butterfly Consignment to find out how to spot faux handbags, but walked out with a lesson on replica relationships!  Shop owner Niquelle Renee helps me break it down: 

Look for identifying markers!

Niquelle’s Step #1 – Look for identifying markers:  Serial numbers, holograms and registered trademarks!  If a handbag does not have a serial number that’s a sure sign it’s a fake.  BUT BE AWARE!  Not all authentic handbags come with serial numbers.

Pretty Preggie’s relationship take:  His serial number is his phone number!  How does he use it?  Does he just text you? Or do you know what this man’s voice actually sounds like.  If you’re 34+ and all you do is text back and forth, he might be a bogus boyfriend!

The handle is not splintered or cracked on this vintage LV. That’s a sure sign that it is not pleather or vinyl.

 

An authentic LV lock. It should have a lock number embossed on the bottom, beside the keyhole.

Niquelle’s Step #2:  Check out the quality:  On leather purses, look at how well the pieces are sewn together.  On the Louis Vuitton pictured, you can see that the majority of this vintage bag is one continuous piece of cowhide – not a bunch of mix-matched pieces of plastic haphazardly sewn together.  Niquelle also points out that the handle, although slightly worn, is not splintered or cracked.  That’s a sure sign that it is leather, not pleather or vinyl.  Also, the zippers, buckles and lock are made of solid brass with LV embossed on even the tiniest piece of hardware.  One other distinguishing characteristic about the authenticity of LV lies in the lock.  It should have a lock number embossed on the bottom, beside the keyhole.  Also, the lock is pointed in a certain direction. 

Pretty Preggie’s relationship take:  Just as you look at whether a purse is made of real or fake leather, investigate whether the object or your affection is really who he says he is!  Ask questions, go out on dates that keep you talking (a Netflix night does not count).  Is he really who he claims to be?  What’s up with his character and integrity?  Is he real?

 

Real Jimmy Choo leather handbag. Here's one of its distinguishing markers - a solid brass label.

Niquelle’s Step #3:  Look at the price!  If someone’s trying to sell you an $800 bag for $50, there’s something terribly wrong!  If it’s supposed to be authentic and it’s priced really cheaply, it’s a fake! 

Butterfly consigners who are able to bring in original tags and receipts make Niquelle’s job easier.

Butterfly consigners who are able to bring in original tags and receipts make Niquelle’s job easier.  The two times she’s been tripped up by an authentic-looking LV bag, she’s taken it to a real LV store counter to find out from the experts whether she’s gotten hit with a fake!

Pretty Preggie’s relationship take:  If he seems too good to be true, check his references!  When I was single I had no shame.  I’d call his supposed office in the middle of the night to see if I’d hear his voice on the recording.  I’ve even been known to call a university’s graduation office to make sure he got the MBA he claimed to have!  And, Google was also my best friend during my dating years.  I learned early that if he wasn’t Googleable, he didn’t exist.  No way I was getting stuck with another bogus boyfriend!  Believe me, this Pretty Preggie’s had her share!

Niquelle is also an attorney.  She has no time for bogus handbags or phony friends. 

Butterfly Consignment owner Niquelle Renee. She's an expert at spotting fake bags. We had fun talking about the correlation between fake bags and fake friends.

She could lose her law license if she knowingly sells counterfeit merchandise, and open her business up to lawsuits by the manufacturer.  To cover her bases, she mandates that each consignor sign an agreement stating that the items they consign are the real deal.  More importantly, Niquelle wants customers to feel they are in a high-end boutique, not a flea market.  ” When you go to Nordstorm or Sak’s, you expect their items to be real, I want my customers to have the same experience here at Butterfly,” she says.  “From a credibility standpoint, I’d rather for my customers to just know that things here are authentic.”

Butterfly is located:  located at 6697 East 82nd Street (just a few blocks east of Castleton Mall across from Starbucks).  Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am-7pm / Sunday 12pm-5pm.

Beware of all fakes!

DeShong Perry-Smitherman

The Secondhand Pretty Preggie

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