On Saturday, The Savvy Event Guru had the magnificent pleasure of sitting down with Mrs. Gigi McMillan at the Westin Hotel at the National Harbor. 2 ladies who have been trying to get together on several different occasions, finally succeeded in doing so on this day, Sunday, November 25, 2019.
When you are ready the Teacher will appear! - Stephanie White
The Savvy Event Guru: Thank you so very much for meeting me today! I am so glad that we were able to finally get together!
Gig McMillan: You are so welcome! Me as well!
The Savvy Event Guru: Okay, so lets get started. In your own words.....Who is Gigi McMillan?
Gigi McMillan: Gigi McMillan is a Mother, a Wife, a Sister, a Friend; I am someone who pours into others and myself as well. I am a person who sets boundaries and I reject bad energy. I am a woman who has to feel what I am doing in order to give it to the WORLD and each day I am learning more about this wonderful Woman, that I am becoming
The Savvy Event Guru: Okay wonderful answer! Next, What Inspires Gigi McMillan?
Gigi McMillan: Hmmm...What inspires me is seeing people grow. I get inspired when I see people get to a place where they understand their VALUE. What also gives me inspiration and inspires me, is my ability to get up each morning and prior to hitting the floor running, I stop and take time out for me, asking myself the question "How am I feeling today"? This question allows me to center myself and then I able to get my day started!
The Savvy Event Guru: Wow, that is amazing! I love this! I feel like more of us need to take that moment each day to check on ourselves. I think the day would run a lot smoother if we did more reflective time for ourselves.
The Savvy Event Guru: So getting to my next question, How did the purple runway fashion show come about?
Gigi McMillan: So prior to everything transpiring with The Purple Runway, I was working as a Director of Administration and Operations for a Charter School in Washington, DC. At this time I was opening up a new Charter School and I was good at what I was doing. I was exceeding the expectations of my boss and I had the reputation of getting things done and getting them done right. BUT that was not enough for me. Though I looked good on the outside, I didn't feel that way on the inside and I was ready for a new journey! I left Corporate America in 2012.
Gigi McMillan: I had launched Kamisol Accessories in 2007, but at the time we only had Handbags and Jewelry. It wasn't until 2012 right after I quiet my corporate job, that I began Kamisol Style Consultancy, Inc.
Gigi McMillan: 2014 was when THE PURPLE RUNWAY fashion show event began. As mentioned before, I always looked good on the outside but unbeknownst to others, the inside of me was messed up. That THING, that was centered around DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, that thing, that was messing me up on the inside needed to come out! I wanted to do something that had meaning to me! I love style and fashion, so it made since for me to do a fashion show! I wanted to do something that combined what I love and what I've been through in my past. During the cultivating stages of this event what came to me was "You Have to Heal", Be Still and Heal'. I then asked God what does that mean? I knew then that I needed to heal from the hurt that had not been addressed. And what better way to do this then to join together a CAUSE and my LOVE for Style and Passion for Fashion. It made sense for me to put together a fashion show during the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Savvy Event Guru: What experience or tragedy did you experience that lead you to create The Purple Runway?
Gigi McMillan: Growing up, my parents were AMAZING!! I was born in Prince George's Hospital here in Prince George's County Maryland. I was a Army brat, so my family moved around a lot, everywhere from London to New Mexico. My dad always instilled in me confidence and my dad always told that I was beautiful so I believed I was beautiful, but he also wanted me to have something more than just beauty, so he would ask me, What else do you have"? What skills and other abilities do you have? I admired my father and mother for preparing me for the world, but I know, they never thought that they would have to prepare me for this!
Gigi McMillan: I never saw abuse as a child and so I was naïve to what abuse looked like and I was also naïve to the fact that people who said I love you would also abuse you. I was prepared for most things and situations in life, but I wasn't prepared for the VULTURES and how they would manipulate me. At the tender age of 7 years old, I was abused by someone very close to my family. This abuse went on for 2 years. My INNOCENCE was stolen!! At the time I don't think I quite knew what was happening, I just didn't want it to happen to anyone else. As time went on, due to my lack of self worth, at the age of 19 years old, I ventured into a mental and emotional abusive relationship and stayed for 2 years; followed by 1-2 more abusive relationships and this was all due to some much need healing that I needed to do and the lack of understanding of my self worth!
The Savvy Event Guru: Wow I am so very sorry that you experienced this Gigi. A child should always be protected and a child should never experience something like this that is so life altering and could ultimately change the course of their life. No Man or Woman should feel that they have the right to abuse anyone.
The Savvy Event Guru: This experience, I know ultimately put you on the PATH to healing and to help others who've experienced abuse as well!
The Savvy Event Guru: How did you come up with the name "THE PURPLE RUNWAY"?
Gigi McMillan: Originally the name of my show was called " For the Love of Style" Fashion for a Cause for Domestic Violence from 2014-2015. But then during a brain storming exercise in 2016 we came up with the name "The Purple Runway"!
The Savvy Event Guru: Very Nice!!...This show sounds more like a Movement then just your ordinary fashion show! What do you intend to accomplish with this MOVEMENT?
Gigi McMillan: Well The Purple Runway show is an event that happens only once a year, but the NEW ithrive Sisterhood organization that was started is built on authentic connections, women empowering women and unconditional love, which is separate from the Purple Runway but is still part of the same movement. The ithrive Sisterhood organization is year round and works with women who are on this journey and want to heal from the inside out.
The Savvy Event Guru: Are you currently working on other projects that are related to the same Cause, aside from the ithrive Sisterhood Organization?
Gigi McMillan: We are currently working on a Soul Style Series. We are also working on The Purple Runway becoming a non-profit organization. I definitely want to take the Purple Runway National; we are looking at a City to city tour. With the ithrive Sisterhood Organization, I want to make ithrive a 2-day event around the world, conduct workshops, etc.
The Savvy Event Guru: Fantastic! How has the experience of the Purple Runway changed you?
Gigi McMillan: The Purple Runway has allowed me to become the person I was born to be. I am ready to be HER. I have done the work and stripped away all that was not me. This show has given me the strength to tell my story! To say it loud and clear! I say to people "If you are asking for permission from others, then you are not ready to SPEAK your Story! The Purple Runway has been a large component in my healing process.
Gigi McMillan: I understand FASHION to be my personal message. For so many years fashion was a MASK for me, but not any longer. My love for fashion is still present but I don't hide behind it.
The Savvy Event Guru: Hmmmm wow! MASKS, that's a big one! A lot of us wear mask to hide how we feel.
The Savvy Event Guru: What message do you want to give to someone who has experienced Domestic Violence?
Gigi McMillan: I would say "Find Someone you can talk to, someone you trust. Acknowledge the abuse and reach out for help. Know that you can overcome this. Know that you are more valuable than RUBIES and GOLD. Also find yourself a community!"
The Savvy Event Guru: What advice would you give to someone who has experienced Domestic Violence but is afraid to come forward?
Gigi McMillan: I would tell them that "People can not help you if they don't know what you are going through. Make a list for yourself! What are the Pros and Cons of leaving and staying in this abusive situation? What will happen if you don't Speak out?"
The Savvy Event Guru: That's Powerful!!
The Savvy Event Guru: So what's next for The Purple Runway?
Gigi McMillan: Definitely the City-to-City tour, starting possibly in New York and California. For the ithrive Organization we are currently working on an "Anonymous Phone Line" which will be called "National Domestic Violence Registry" that will assist people with prevention. People will be able to call in and speak with someone immediately.
The Savvy Event Guru: Wow! I have learned so much about you and The Purple Runway today. Your story is very inspiring. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule today to meet with me. I greatly appreciate this.
Gigi McMillan: You are certainly welcome. Thank you for capturing my story.
Mrs. Gigi Mcmillan and I
To Learn more about The Purple Runway please Follow the Purple Runway on Facebook at PURPLE RUNWAY and on Instagram @purplerunway. Also check out the Purple Runway website at www.purplerunway.com
Photo by Ms. Jackie Hicks, Make-up by Letitia Thornhill