Just over a week ago, Christine and I returned home from a whirlwind few days visiting Chicago to attend the spectacular "A Night for Green Beauty" or "ANFGB" as it has come to be known. For those not familiar with the green beauty world, ANFGB was created 3 years ago by Chicago-based brand La Bella Figura as a sort of hybrid event that is part brand showcase, part meet and greet, and part celebration of all things "green" beauty. This rapidly growing sector of the beauty industry is comprised largely of smaller, independent labels that have been created by individuals with a passion for crafting healthy products they believe in, much like ourselves. ANFGB aims to not only expose the public to the makers and their products, but to provide support for fellow indie green beauty brands and bloggers. The green beauty community that exists in the virtual world of social media is an incredibly tight knit and supportive group. We may not have the resources and exposure of major mass market brands, but we more than make up for it in passion and a genuine willingness to support each other's success. When Christine and I heard that this summer's ANFGB was going to be its final year (at least of its current incarnation), we knew that we had to experience it for the chance to meet some of the people who have inspired and supported us, and as a bonus see a little of Chicago while there!
I'm happy to say that both Chicago and A Night for Green Beauty did not disappoint! The event was held at VenueOne, and the space managed to merge the intimate vibe of a cool cocktail party with meeting the makers behind the brands. These are a few of the green beauty rock stars we had the opportunity to meet: Josh Rosebrook of Josh Rosebrook Skin and Haircare, who truly is every bit as genuine and kindhearted as he seems, and then some. His products have developed an almost cult-like following, and for good reason - they're incredible! Check him out if you haven't already. Sarita Coren, the blogger behind Edible Facial and photographer extraordinaire! Meeting Sarita felt like running into an old friend. She is amazingly generous and supportive and we're so happy to have finally met her in person! The lovely Marissa Waller, owner of BeauTeaBar, an exquisite online boutique that now has a brick and mortar location as well for double your shopping pleasure. Receiving a package from Marissa's BeauTeaBar is always a celebratory occasion! Nicolle Mackinnon, a green beauty who wears many hats! She is the social media manager of No More Dirty Looks, editorial manager of EcoDivaBeauty, and editor at Thoughtfully Magazine, the latter two being official sponsors of the night. Nicolle was so welcoming and friendly and as a bonus, she gave me a great insider recommendation on checking out lipstick brand Axiology (which I'm loving, by the way)! I could go on, but those are just a few of the highlights of our evening. Of course, there were many people we missed as well - as Molly of Maison Pur noted in her recap of the night, it can be hard to spot people in that type of setting when you only know them through their social media accounts (Molly, unfortunately, was on that list for us. Here's hoping to next time!). Despite those we missed, we left feeling grateful to be a part of this talented and inspiring community.
So, that's the end of our Chicago story (er, blog post), right? Stay with me now, because this is when things got interesting. The VenueOne space happens to be directly across the street from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios, and on the way out we decided to do the tourist thing and take a picture. The street was deserted, nobody in sight. I took a picture of Christine and we were about to swap so she could take one of me when we looked down to see a man's wallet on the sidewalk directly in front of the Harpo Studios sign. Credit cards, license, bar association card, everything this guy had was in that wallet. My first instinct was to contact the police to return it, but as Christine wisely pointed out, the owner of this wallet was from San Fransisco (according to his license) and local police may not be of much assistance. We stood there pondering for a few minutes how we could possibly track this guy down. He had to still be nearby, a full wallet laying on the sidewalk couldn't have been there long. Then a sudden flash of inspiration - Facebook! We could try to find him on Facebook. A long shot maybe, but worth a try. I typed in his name and much to our surprise his profile immediately came up. Yes, this is him, the picture matches his license, his profile states his law firm and that he lives in San Fransisco. I sent him a message saying we found your wallet at Harpo Studios, let us know if you are still in Chicago and we can arrange to meet and return it. We returned to our hotel expecting to hear back from "Shay" by morning.
The next morning not only had we not heard back, but I could see that the FB message I sent had not yet been read. We planned to spend the day sightseeing and decided to leave the wallet at the front desk of our hotel in case Shay contacted us to retrieve it. To be honest, we had now grown a bit concerned that we hadn't heard back yet. Was he ok? We were now thoroughly invested in seeing Shay's wallet returned safely. To that end, we did the only logical thing we could think of. We called his office in San Fransisco. A quick google search of the law firm listed on his Facebook profile provided the number, and within minutes I was speaking with his assistant. It turns out that Shay had already left Chicago that morning for LA. His assistant Mirna was both incredulous and grateful to hear our story. She took my number and contacted Shay to let him know we had found his wallet. She then contacted the front desk of our hotel and arranged for the wallet to be sent via FedEx to LA and called me back to let us know all had been taken care of and to thank us again. Shortly afterwards I received a text from an unknown number that turned out to be Shay himself thanking us profusely for this simple act of kindness. We replied that we were happy to help and joked that Oprah had a hand in it as well, because if we hadn't stopped at Harpo we would never have found it.
Just before boarding the plane at O'Hare for our return trip home we received one last text from Shay. A picture of him holding the wallet that had already made it back to him in LA along with this text: "I have been telling anyone who will listen over the past 24 hours what wonderful people you are and how your act of diligent, thoughtful kindness has inspired me. I am so grateful to you not just for helping me retrieve my wallet, but also for renewing my faith in people and in the idea that goodness is all around us, everywhere, all the time. My deep gratitude to you. I will pay this forward." And that, my friends, is the story of how we returned Shay's wallet. And it is indeed the best thing that happened to us on our Chicago vacation.