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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Southern Tier Fashion Life: The Scoop

Fashion Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Receives Community Award, Expands Services to Support More Small Business


The fashion nonprofit Runway For A Cause and its owner Emmi Saufley are riding a wave of accomplishment right now, proving that philanthropy, networking and creative business and community partnerships can cultivate a meaningful and fulfilling sense of success. After Runway For A Cause held its well-received annual fashion show fundraiser, raising an impressive amount of money for My Refuge House in November 2022, the organization is making crucial changes to expand its efforts to support even more small businesses, fledgling entrepreneurship and local charities.


“We ended up giving $8,000 to My Refuge House,” Emmi says, her voice still tinged with disbelief at the amount.


“It was kind of unexpected that we even raised that much to give back to them.”

Just over 500 people attended the fall fashion show, which featured nine designers, including Emmi with her Le Kim by Emmi Saufley line.


“It was a very happy feeling to see that number and see how much we’ve grown,” she said. “It was so cool.”


The other designers featured in the 2022 show included, Katie Hardiman, Money World by Santee Thomas, Jordan Brooks; Life, Love and the Makings Of by Hannah Hart, DVMN Pigeon by Knox, Hannah Garrett, AngElixs Designs by Angie Smith, and Nayla Giron. Designer applications for Runway For A Cause’s November 2023 fashion show are available now and can be downloaded from the organization’s website.

Photos provided by Emmi Saufley. Top left to right: Emmi Saufley with 2023 Chemung County Human Relations Commission Ernest Hemingway, Jr. Award; a scene from the 2022 Runway For A Cause Fashion Show; attendees browsing the merchandise at the 2022 Runway For A Cause Fashion Show; the My Refuge House display, beneficiary of the 2022 fashion show proceeds; Emmi Saufley with her Le Kim Associates, LLC models; the Le Kim by Emmi Saufley logo.


The new year brought some big changes to Runway For A Cause, including the departure of former co-owner and fellow designer, Katrina Hardiman, and the addition of a new board member, Runway For A Cause’s CFO, Dustin Ordway.


“We’ve definitely been all over the place this year,” Emmi says, of the nonprofit’s recent transitional phase, and the variety of new opportunities that have arisen. “It’s been kind of stressful.”


Despite the stress, proof that Emmi’s efforts to elevate the profile and philanthropic influence of Runway For A Cause are paying off is her recent community nomination and acceptance of the Chemung County Human Relations Commission’s Ernest Hemingway, Jr. Award, which recognizes “people, employers, or volunteer groups that have substantially contributed to promoting diverse social, cultural, and ethnic perspectives that enrich and expand understanding among all residents of Chemung County.”


“It was another bittersweet moment. I could not believe that it happened, ” she says. “It was pretty cool. And, to have some of your work recognized in a different light is always a beautiful thing, and humbles you in every right way.”


“It was quite a shock. I definitely cried happy tears.”


Emmi and Runway For a Cause are continuing to build on the nonprofit’s growing visibility and influence by enthusiastically adapting to changes in the organization’s Board and inclusion of subcommittees that will focus on fundraising, marketing, communications and more. Runway For a Cause, in partnership with Le Kim Associates, LLC, also plans to make deeper investments in the community by expanding partnerships and services to include business workshops, mentoring and other educational services. The organization also recently established a physical location at The L in Horseheads.


“The main purpose is just to give back to the community in a way where I can provide this platform for, really anybody, to gain knowledge, to create a really solid network, to learn the real basics of this industry. And, it doesn’t have to be fashion-related, it can be anything business-related, really.”


After her recent professional and personal accolades and achievements, Emmi Saufley continues to elevate expectations of success with her grace, generosity, community collaboration and creative vision. Stay tuned to see what else this young entrepreneur accomplishes as she continues to expand her influence.

Upcoming Runway For A Cause Events:

Runway For A Cause Instagram

Runway For A Cause Facebook

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