by Karen Alberg Grossman

This annual Awards issue of MR magazine is always my favorite as I invariably learn so much from our honorees. This year’s eclectic group is exceptional, not just for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit but also for their passion for giving back. With our country so divided about so many social and economic issues, it’s a joy to see companies actively involved in helping those in need. And it’s not just the big guys (although we can’t say enough about the generosity of Macy’s, GIII, PVH, Peerless, TJX, Burlington Stores and more). Even start-ups and independent specialty stores are doing more than their share to improve the world. Yes, philanthropy can be good for business, but most of our industry’s generosity happens quietly behind the scenes.

One example: A few months ago, I was approached by Jon McKinney, an industry pro who’s worked for several top menswear brands and recently joined the board of Heavenly Harvest, a nonprofit founded by celebrity chef John Doherty (now chef/owner at Blackbarn on E. 26thStreet after 30 years at the Waldorf Astoria). Frustrated by the amount of fresh food that gets wasted while donated food is often a lesser quality, Doherty made it his goal was to create healthy farm-to-table meals for the hungry. McKinney’s idea was to distribute these meals via a specialty retailer known for community service. And that’s how the MR/Heavenly Harvest Community Service Award came to be. This year’s recipient is our 2019 Best Specialty Store Mr. Sid in Newton and Boston: co-owners and brothers Stuart and Barry Segel will be donating 5,000 Heavenly Harvest meals through their local YMCA. Says Doherty, “Our meals are carefully

designed recipes that exceed USDA nutritional recommendations; they consist of locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients cooked to perfection with no preservatives or artificial flavorings. Our hope is that families will feel proud to put this food on their table.”

Did you know that more than 80 percent of those who experience food insecurity are working families that live at or below the poverty level? Some eat only one meal a day; many do without so they can feed their kids. MR is truly delighted to be partnering with this terrific organization.

Another altruistic award winner is James Bartle from Outland Denim. I cannot say enough about this amazing young man, who created a business after witnessing a young girl in Thailand who was up for sale. “She looked really frightened so I asked the rescue agency if there wasn’t something we could do to help her. I was told that there wasn’t, that human trafficking is an all-too common tragedy across the globe. I knew right then that I had to do something.” MR is thrilled to present Bartle with our first ever Social Responsibility Award; read more of his story on page 52.

Like many of you, I sometimes wonder if a career in fashion is really all that meaningful. When I’m reminded of the important work our industry continues to do with such compassion and commitment, I am energized, inspired and very proud to be part of it.