Category Archives: Making Changes Association

My Best Friend’s Closet!

Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design students and staff visited their community partners Making Changes Association of Alberta in Calgary on Wednesday – an organization that works with around 100 agencies in and round the city that refer clients to MCA, who wish to re-enter the workforce and need employment and life skills guidance. MCA provides that guidance and wardrobes to their clients for free and have recently begun a Teen program called My Best Friend’s Closet providing not only school clothing, but professional image consulting services and a gathering place for these young women to share time and friendship in a nurturing creative safe environment.

The artwork at the reception desk

The facility is anything but officiously dull or intimidating, but bright and cheerful and looks like a high end boutique for Teens – is truly inspiring for any young woman that is facing the prospect of looking great and feeling truly comfortable in her school environment – trying to fit in with her peers all the while going through some pretty challenging life pressures. This place and the trained volunteers are totally encouraging providing pro make-up tips, jewelry/accessories, a full school wardrobe – including a gym kit, and a refuge of normalcy to teen clients who have been marginalized – coming from all sectors of society.

Lili Bunce, the Executive Director of MCA and her just groomed little pooch, welcomed us with coffee and muffins, pop and pizza; gave us the grand tour and provided her insights into the successes and challenges of the organization, and the invaluable commitment and contributions of their many volunteers who actually make the place work so well.

Lili on far right and EHC group

Thank you Lili!

Where do we fit in? Ecole Holt Couture‘s annual fashion event fundraiser “Dress Code” is for Making Changes Association and will be staged Sunday November 18th at the Calgary Winter Club – so save the date! This year’s theme is addressing ‘occasions that would require attendees to arrive per a Dress Code’ – so what does it all mean???? Tickets will go on sale – will provide more information soon. Come join us and have an inspirational and fun afternoon!

Were they inspired or what?


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Mother’s Day!

A call went out to the students at EHC for inspiration for this week’s weblog – they came back with the theme of Mother’s Day.  Looking into the origins of this celebration I came across several versions of its history and its varying celebratory traditions.  But, it is important just to recognize the contributions of all great women, mothers, and in my case, my mother the founder of EHC, who is strong willed, energetic and has a great Vision.

As Founder of EHC, Elfriede has dedicated the past 20 years of her life to developing Ecole Holt Couture based on her ideals, 60+ years of experience and the fortunate opportunity of her own training.  Not one to be put off by some resistance and more than a few obstacles she has contributed a wealth of knowledge to be passed on to future generations to take advantage of as the basis for a career in Couture Fashion.

It appears that the Mother’s Day that we are familiar with in North America can be traced back to the name of three incredible women.  In recognizing these women who have been given the credit for establishing Mother’s Day, countless others – who to us are now nameless – have also given their support to these heroic efforts.

Anna Reeves Jarvis and Anna Marie Jarvis

In the 1850’s, American – Anna Reeves Jarvis, organized Mother Work Day Clubs that focused on providing medicine for the poor and on improving sanitary conditions. Then, during the Civil War, Mother’s Day Clubs cared for all soldiers — regardless of which side of the battle they had chosen. After the war ended, Anna continued her peacemaking by working to bring people together to heal the deep wounds of those who had been divided by the war. In light of this, in 1872 Anna celebrated a special day terming it Mothers’ Day for Peace.

After Anna Reeves Jarvis died, her daughter Anna M. Jarvis campaigned for the creation of an official Mother’s Day in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace.

In 1908, Anna petitioned the superintendent of the church where her Mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday school. Her request was honored, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The West Virginia event drew a congregation of 407 and Anna Jarvis arranged for white carnations—her Mother’s favorite flower—to adorn the patrons. Today, white carnations are used to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations pay tribute to Mothers who are still alive.

In 1912, Anna M Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”, and created the Mother’s Day International Association. In 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.

Anna had become disappointed with its commercialization already by the 1920s.”Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble from her son or daughter than any fancy greeting card,” she also once pointed out, “There is no connection between candy and this day.”

As Mother’s Day celebration began in 1908 in the US, it was followed in Canada a year later in 1909.

Julia Ward Howe

Social and Anti-Slavery activist Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) who wrote ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, also wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, which she delivered at a Women’s Peace Conference in London. The proclamation was an antiwar reaction and belief that women had a social responsibility to shape their societies.

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience.
“We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.             Julia Ward Howe Boston 1870

Mothering Sunday in the UK

In the Roman religion the Hilaria festival was held in honour of the mother goddess Cybele and it took place during mid-March. As the Roman Empire and Europe slowly converted to Christianity, this celebration became part of the liturgical calendar as Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent to honour the Virgin Mary and the “mother church“.

Although the beginnings of Christianity in England can be traced back to 300AD, it appears that by 1400 AD like the rest of Europe, England and Ireland were observing the mid-Lent holiday and honored their “Mother Church,” by decorating the church with flowers where they were baptized; it was considered important for them to return to their “mother” church at least once a year.

Mothering Sunday by the 1700’s, was observed by taking a break from the fasting and penitence of Lent and having a family feast. Children would make a rare journey home from their apprenticeships and jobs in ‘service’ to spend one day a year with their mother and family. They would pick wild flowers along the way to place them in the church or to give them to their mothers as gifts. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday and the secular tradition of giving gifts, cakes and flowers—especially violets—to mothers.

Constance Penswick-Smith

In the early 1900’s to 1920s, the custom of keeping Mothering Sunday had tended to lapse in the UK, Ireland and in continental Europe. But, in 1914 inspired by Anna Jarvis, Constance Penswick-Smith created the Mothering Sunday Movement,and in 1921 she wrote a book asking for the revival of the Mothering Sunday festival. It also experienced a wide scale revival in the UK through the influence of American and Canadian soldiers serving abroad during World War II.

The traditions of Mothering Sunday, practised by the Church of England and Church of Ireland were merged with the newly-imported traditions still celebrated in the wider Catholic communities. By the 1950s Mother’s day was celebrated by everyone in Ireland and the UK on the same day that Mothering Sunday was celebrated, however, the two celebrations are not the same observance.

Today over 70 countries observe Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Easter




Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year to everyone! May everyone receive strength, courage and the general ‘wherewithal’ to tackle this year with all of its ups and downs.  Just as it is not wholesome to dwell on the past year’s failures, it is equally unhealthy to live off of past successes alone. Facing a new year can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. So go for it the best you can!


To tie up the end of 2011, Ecole Holt Couture had the great pleasure of presenting the proceeds of its annual fund raising fashion event “Eleganza 2011” to Making Changes Association of Calgary. This charitable organization provides the opportunity for women in transition to enter the workforce with confidence and a work-appropriate wardrobe. Through several sessions of free professional advice and support it has successfully helped around 1200 clients in 2011. Ecole Holt Couture supports this organization and its vision by producing an annual fashion event fundraiser showcasing its student’s work and projects on the runway, along with some vintage couture collections created by the Founder. This year a silent auction was included, with many wonderful gift items generously donated by its sponsors.

Pleased to present.....

We can finally show you the much talked about wedding gown now that the wedding has been celebrated in one of the most beautiful locations in the world – Lake Louise, Canada at Christmas time…


Thanks to the bride for allowing us to showcase the gown at the fashion event – before the wedding! And Kudos to everyone who saw the gown before the wedding and kept it quiet not to spoil the surprise for the groom!


Next time we will review a new book that turned out to be very interesting in terms of couture and bespoke tailoring…..


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from EHC!

Merry Christmas

Hi everyone! So much has happened since the last post before the fashion Show ELEGANZA on November 20th, 2011 until now that it will definitely take a few weeks to catch up with. But, until then we wish all of you and your families and friends the very best of the Season!

The new School Term starts on January 3rd and 4th 2012.

from all of us at EHC,

Elfriede Holtkamp, Jutta Holtkamp-Rogan and Hannelore Ponto


Thank you all tweeters!

Thank you all tweeters!

Wow, what a weekend! EHC’s Fashion Event Fundraiser “ELEGANZA” for Making Changes AssociationCalgary went off without a hitch or glitch that couldn’t be handled by any of our hard-working and generous volunteers!

We were thrilled by the number of sponsors and quality prizes donated for the silent auction, the generosity of our official Sponsors of the Event, the press, the promotion, the musicians, the number of volunteers who provided uncountable hours of help over the last few weeks, the support of EHC student’s families and by the excitement that was generated by everyone who attended!

How can we say thank you enough for all the tweeters who generated excitement about the event – THANK YOU ALL TWEETERS!

Yes, to say that ELEGANZA was a success – is somewhat of an understatement!

We will post the photos and videos “as soon as”.



Here is another event that the whole family will enjoy – “Christmas All Through the House” at Lougheed House National Historic Site

Each year the Lougheed House, in Partnership with the Calgary Design Group, hosts it’s Christmas fundraising event with a dazzling display of magnificent seasonal interior decor! For the children – you can visit with Santa or you could post your ‘Dear Santa’ letter in the special mail box. For everyone who is still “a child at heart”, tour the house, purchase unique Christmas ornaments from the Gift Shop or simply dine in the restaurant surrounded by wonderful Christmas sensations.

Lougheed HouseFrom November 19th to 27th at Lougheed House, 707 – 13 Ave SW, Calgary Alberta – across from the Ranchman’s Club. Tickets available online or at the door $15.00 – adults, $10.00 – students, and $5.00 – under  5 yrs.

See you there!




Calgary Herald feature article – Nov 15th, 2011

We had a whirlwind couple of days – Monday morning we had Jill Belland of Breakfast Television with us,if you want to see the video of the show with our segment click on the link or copy and paste the link into your URL bar because have not as of yet figured out how to make it work on this page – dear me!–november-14/

The Calgary Herald published a feature about Ecole Holt Couture by Theresa Taylor on Tuesday Nov 15th:

and it so happens it also ran in the Vancouver Sun!!!!!

Yesterday, Beverley Parkin of Lia Sophia Jewelry swung by with cases and cases of jewelry for the students to choose from to feature at the show to accessorize their looks – that was fun – we didn’t want her to leave as the piles of glistening gold and silver heaped up! Guests will be able to purchase anything they see at the show with the proceeds going to Making Changes Association of Calgary.

Tomorrow Stylejunction will be visiting to tell us about their new online portfolio program for up and coming designers.

But today, we will calm back down, focus and finish our projects for the Term and in preparation for the show on Sunday. And, of course, all the finishing touches to the featured couture bridal gown!

Sunday will be a fun time with Sarah Vann opening the event with Lisa Jacobs and Los Morenos playing the show! Wine, and food, silent auction with over 40 items worth upwards of $6000.00 to bid on, and of course the fashion show itself!

Update later…....ELEGANZA get your tickets now online or at the door.

Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design!


Tags: , , , , , , ,

CityTv Breakfast Show on location @ EHC, Nov 14th, 2011

We all got up really early in preparation for CityTV’s Calgary’s Breakfast Show on Location here at the school this morning. Lili Bunce, executive Director of Making Changes Association, was right on time with Tim Horton’s coffees and muffins for everyone! Thank you Lili!

Jill Belland, host of Breakfast TV on location, cheerful and energetic as ever, finding out about couture fashion from the students, scarf tying tips, and ELEGANZA  the couture fashion fundraising event coming up on Sunday at the Calgary Winter Club featuring Sarah Vann and Los Morenos music. Leela Jacobs of Lava Hair Group, and her team will be doing their magic with hair and make-up for the models for the event.

After we’ve had a little power nap, we are back to work completing all the projects, and the wedding gown that will be featured at the show.There will be silent auction items totaling around $6000.00 to be had at the event from consultation certificates, to Starbucks coffee, to weekend holidays! The premier item will be original art work donated especially for this event!

Let you know how it’s all coming along in a couple of days – only 6 days left!



Watch Jill Belland on BTV at EHC – Nov 14th

We are fortunate to have Jill Belland host of Breakfast TV – Citytv Calgary, with us on Monday morning, bright and early! I don’t know how she starts her workday at 3am, when most of us are still tucked up asleep, but with a great team of people behind her, always has a smile and loads of energy even at 5:30 am!

The students with Executive Director of Making Changes Association of Calgary will be here at the school giving everyone a sneak peak at what to expect at Eleganza Fashion Event this year. Yesterday we had Leela Jacobs, fashion stylist, around to take notes on the vintage collection being presented, and Sarah Vann with Lisa Jacobs, music artists featured at Eleganza, will be here showing us their talents, and our bride-to-be, Heidi will be here talking about her featured couture wedding gown and showing a glimpse of the sumptuous silk!

Have your photo taken with Aaron, Reddot Photography – official photographer, at the fashion event!

Time is running out fast so get your tickets online at or from the students call: 403 – 244 – 5460 (EHC).

As a fashion stylist finding the right wardrobe for photo shoots is very important but has also been a struggle finding the right designs and quality. At a meeting at Ecole Holt Couture about their upcoming fashion show I was eager to shoot all the pieces they were using,  they’re designs are timeless. After further discussion, Ecole Holt Couture’s generosity with access to their wardrobe has opened doors for my career as a fashion stylist and I can’t wait to use them in my editorial pieces.

-Leela Jacobs, Fashion stylist-


We Will Remember – Nov 11th

We Will Remember – Nov 11th

We get so caught up with our lives and plans, our commitments, our hopes and dreams, that we forget how it is that we even have the freedom to indulge ourselves in these privileges. It could have been so different if not for the countless who gave up their futures, their hopes and dreams for others, then and today, for us.

“Thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough……Click to watch video “I will remember You – Sarah McLachlan

                                                            We Will Remember Nov. 11th