In today's Profile in Compassion philanthropy meets fun at Fairfield's A Little Square, as Chris Chagaris sits down with cancer survivor Alexandra Wallace-Currie.
Fairfield's gift and children's shop, A Little Square, LLC and its sister charity, The Pink Pom Pom Project are close to their owner and founder, Alexandra Wallace-Currie's heart. Both were born out of her personal struggle with breast cancer. Now cancer-free, Wallace-Currie has emerged triumphant not only in her win against the disease but in her aim to help others. Wallace-Currie refers to A Little Square as a "profit for non-profit" venture, as all of its proceeds go toward craft supplies and crafting lessons at The Pink Pom Pom Project, which in turn helps those affected by cancer as well as kids in need.
The store opened a year and a half ago. It's located in an historic loft, and is bright and spacious with floor-to-ceiling windows that stream in natural light. This atmosphere reflects Wallace-Currie's sunny and can-do attitude. Colors, glitter, and an all-around fun vibe abound amid the unique gifts (all under $20), fabrics, and boys and girls clothing (infants to age 12) that the store offers. Birthday parties are also a staple in the store's front room complete with crafting table and giant chalkboard. "Girls can have tutu parties and boys pirate parties," said Wallace-Currie. A Little Square's merchandise is unique as well. "I am a huge believer in small business," she said. "I want to provide a platform for the lesser-known designer." One such designer is Jennifer Paganelli of Wilton, whose colorful fabric line, Sis Boom, the store carries.
Wallace-Currie, a Fairfield resident, mom of two girls and a boy ages 10, nine and five and a Texas native, explained how the store and charity each came to be. "I was living in London, England in the beginning of 2011 with my husband and family and was diagnosed with Stage two, Grade two breast cancer," she began. Her doctor told her that it was advisable for her to stay occupied with things that would keep her busy as she recovered from chemotherapy. The upcoming winter in England would be the coldest in 100 years, so Wallace-Currie decided, as she put it, to "make my bedroom my sanctuary." Luckily, she had an extensive art background and decided to apply it as a sort of therapy in her healing journey.
The Pink Pom Pom Project soon emerged after Wallace-Currie began knitting. First, a floppy hat for herself after she lost her hair due to treatment, then scarves. She began donating her creations to various cancer-related organizations in London and soon after, obtained trademark status for The Pink Pom Pom Project. It gets its fun moniker from the yarned pom poms its participants make. The project has grown by leaps and bounds and now comprises six programs:
First is the Stitch and Bitch knitting group, which is held Monday and Thursday from 10:30 to 1:30 p.m. This group is open to all knitters, seasoned or aspiring. A free knitting coach is available for assistance, and each participant creates a knitting square for the VOTY Quilts, the second program in the project. The VOTY Quilts are quilts that stand for Volunteer of the Year. Participants in The Pink Pom Pom Project work together to make a quilt to award a Volunteer of the Year at a cancer support organization; Commission Possible awards a local artist a commission to create a piece of art or jewelry to donate to a cancer support organization to raise awareness and funds; Pink Pom Pom Project Party Boxes are boxes made off-site by kids for cancer patients; The Girl Scout Patch is a patch awarded to participating Girl Scouts who make soothing lavender sachets for cancer patients; and finally, there is Believe, which takes counselors age 16 and up from local community centers and through The Pink Pom Pom Project teaches them a craft with the aim that one day they will start their own businesses. "We plan to feature their creations here in the store, too," said Wallace-Currie. One such community center that the project works with is the Shehan Center in Bridgeport.
Wallace-Currie's positive attitude and philanthropic mission know no bounds. She plans to franchise The Pink Pom Pom Project to Manhattan and her native Texas, where she has friends and family ready to take on the cause. "The shop and The Pink Pom Pom Project were about me for about three minutes," she said. "It's all about giving back. It takes just one person to truly make a difference."
A Little Square, LLC and The Pink Pom Pom Project are located on 1981 Post Road in Fairfield. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday thru Saturday. You can also like The Pink Pom Pom Project on Facebook and follow Alexandra Wallace-Currie on Twitter.