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Third annual Cowboy & Couture fashion how benefits women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda

Dr. Terry Neese (center), IEEW’s founder and CEO speaking at the 2011 Cowboy & Couture Fashion show with Peace through Business program students Francine Umurungi from Rwanda (left) and Salma Nori from Afghanistan. Photo provided by IEEW

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, July 17, the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) will hold its third annual Benefit Fashion Show, “Cowboy & Couture” at the Historic Oklahoma City Farmer’s Public Market, 311 South Klein Avenue. Hosted by the metro’s Eden Salon and Spa, the doors open at 6 p.m., and the show, benefiting IEEW’s PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program, will begin at 7 p.m. Emcee for the evening will be Mary Melon, Journal Record president and CEO.

“IEEW board member Jan Hill, owner of Eden Salon and Spa, goes all out in planning and organizing this one-of-a-kind event that attracts and excites so many who want to see the latest and greatest in fashion,” says Dr. Terry Neese, IEEW’s founder and chief executive officer. “Last year, I was absolutely blown away at the professionalism of this event; I felt like I was watching a fashion show in New York or Paris.”

IEEW provides training every year to 60 women in both Afghanistan and Rwanda, to help them grow their own businesses. Half of the 60 students are selected to travel to the United States in July for higher-level business and leadership training.

Students each have a one-week-long mentorship with a female business owner living in Dallas or Oklahoma who works in a matching industry. From there they will go to Washington D.C. to take part in an International Women’s Economic Summit (IWES).

IWES is an opportunity for the students to turn their attention to their country’s road to economic recovery and peace. This event hosts speakers from the private sector as well as government agencies and elected officials. The culmination is a Presentation of Commitment from the Peace through Business program graduates to their Ambassadors.

“I couldn’t think of a better program and better cause to donate to than Peace through Business,” said Hill. “I have mentored several women in the program, including Sima Sahar a salon owner in Afghanistan. She is a skin therapist with very limited access to effective products & equipment. We discuss customizing her treatments with locally sourced ingredients, various treatment types, and the possibility of networking with a dermatologist or physician. We are helping our sisters in business in Afghanistan and Rwanda realize their dream of entrepreneurship, and at the same time we are hosting a fun event that the public can enjoy and appreciate.”

Sponsors include Allen Style Homes, Mercedes-Benz of Oklahoma City, Mary Melon of the Journal Record, Terry Neese Personnel, barre3 Oklahoma City, Cosmetic Specialty Labs, Inc., the Oklahoma Gazette, Fusion Studio, Aldo, Cole Dewey Designs, and Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen.

The fashion show will feature models from the Anthony David Agency, They will be wearing apparel from Langston’s, Ruth Meyers, Rawhide Western Culture and Spencer Stone Company.

Founded in 2006 by Oklahoma City resident Dr. Terry Neese, the IEEW is an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit that focuses on education, mentorship and coaching women in the United States and abroad who are seeking to acquire entrepreneurial skills to help start and grow a business. IEEW works with a network of mentors, corporate sponsors, and private donors across the United States.

Considered a serial entrepreneur, Neese is a member of the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, past national president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and founder of Terry Neese Personnel Services in Oklahoma City.

“Our experience hosting and mentoring a woman salon owner from Rwanda changed our lives forever and I came to realize that helping raise awareness and funds for Peace Through Business is my “pay it forward” for the freedom and opportunities I enjoy,” said Hill.

Eden Salon, a full-service salon and spa, was originally co-founded by Jan Hill in 1982 under the name My Sister’s Scissors. The business has been included in ELLE Magazine’s Top 100 Salons across America.

“We will have the Peace through Business Collection at the show for sale as we did last year and many of the student’s items sold out,” said Hill. “Items vary from jewelry, bags, clothing, and baskets. It depends greatly on what they can transport over here. I honestly can’t believe everything they stuff in their luggage! I call it their “magic” bags.”

Tickets for “Cowboy & Couture” cost $100 for VIP seating and include one drink, or $35 for reserved general admission, or $40 for general admission at the door.

There will be refreshments and a cash bar. For tickets and sponsorship information visit or for more information visit

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