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Meet the Team that’s Hijacking Your Mother’s Day Weekend with Fashion…and Love ‘Em



by Mellissa Thomas


Rob and Jessica Henlon (center, seated and standing respectively) with last year's team, including Mellissa Thomas (far left, standing), Rocco di Cardielli (standing, second from left), Brianna Daly (second from right, standing) and Jenna Babin (right, seated)

Rob and Jessica Henlon (center, seated and standing respectively) with last year’s team, including Mellissa Thomas (far left, standing), Rocco di Cardielli (standing, second from left), Brianna Daly (second from right, standing) and Jenna Babin (right, seated). Photo by Brion Price.


By this point, you’ve probably heard of Florida Fashion Weekend in some shape or form – either from a friend sharing the Facebook fan page, inviting you to the two-day extravaganza or one of the two events, sharing the casting call video, or some behind-the-scenes photos. With Florida Fashion Weekend is less than twelve hours away, you’re probably wondering what kind of people it takes to put on an event like this.

Meet the team audacious enough to sweep your Mother’s Day weekend with the promise of not just a fashion show, but a bona fide cultural experience…and ask you to bring Mom along for the ride.


The Hustle

Sibling dynamos Rob and Jessica Henlon (above) of Fierce Entertainment Management put an otherworldly elbow grease in establishing new connections and relationships for Florida Fashion Weekend, their efforts so focused they went under the radar for the first two months of 2014. Within a week after they surfaced again since November for the first meeting in March 2014, the Florida Fashion Weekend Facebook fan page likes and Twitter follows had already reached into the hundreds.

Rob and Jessica are heavily involved in the community, hungry for opportunities to offer ways to add value to people’s lives. What makes them so successful? Rob is a skilled conversationalist, and Jessica has an unerring determination — an irresistible combination. Their stories are detailed in this 2013 feature.

Fierce Entertainment Management’s Rosa Henlon works behind the scenes to diligently balance the books. She follows the ticket sales, vendor revenue, sponsorships, and all expenses.


The Partners

Several of Orlando’s greats have chosen to embrace the team’s dream and are an integral part of it. Katerina Fedotova’s Russian Ballet Orlando, whose students will provide an enthralling performance before the fashion show, Aveda Institute’s expert makeup artists and hair stylists, and Dennis Liddy’s hosting venue Jai Gallery, which will surround all with influential art, will create the promised cultural experience. The event’s cultural reach goes even further thanks to our partnership with James Cornetet’s Urban Art Museum, which is working to beautiful the Mills 50 Disctrict. A portion of Florida Fashion Weekend’s revenue will go to UAM.

No fashion show — or any major event for that matter — can happen without food and drink. Celebrity chef Alred “Alfy” Mann‘s Elite Catering & Events, LLC, will cater the event, and Onli Beverages will augment the bar with its signature naturally flavored carbonated drinks.


The Expert

Michael Ransom lives and breathes fashion, producing fashion shows and trunk shows for a living. He brings the creative flair and fashion industry expertise to the team, educating its members on the necessary nomenclature and protocols to keep the clueless from appearing that way. Florida Fashion Weekend’s Saturday fashion show, “Love & War: The Age of Enlightenment,” was Ransom’s idea. He wanted this to be a thematic show, something more artful.

Ransom’s story is detailed in this insightful interview.


The Coordinators

Close friends Brianna Daly and Jenna Babin (above) are stringently meticulous, keeping all of the event’s details in order, down to the last model’s lipstick. Brianna, who brings HR and leadership experience, works well with people. She has partnered with Ransom in moderating the models and designer for Florida Fashion Weekend.

Jenna is the event linchpin, handling most of the logistical details: furniture, setup, scheduling, and backstage. She is also the Florida Fashion Weekend Instagram administrator and has amassed over 500 likes there.

These two are the central gear that keeps the models, designers, hair and makeup team, caterers, DJ, and the rest of the team apprised of the necessary information to keep things running smoothly, and Brianna is the compassionate but firm mediator when things go awry.


The Faces

Fashion consultant, speaker, author, life and etiquette coach, media personality, and entrepreneur Dr. Denise Y. Mose (below) brings the exuberance only a fashionista can to her role as this weekend’s gracious hostess. Her red carpet coverage experience includes the coveted New York Fashion Week, the Grammys, the 2014 Oscars, and she’s only just returned from the 2014 Kentucky Derby. The Harvard graduate also owns Simply D and Beauty by D, her line of fragrance and skincare products, respectively, which is carried in boutiques nationwide.


Journalist, entrepreneur, speaker, media personality, and life and etiquette coach Dr. Denise Y. Mose


Like the Henlons, Dr. Mose has a passion for people and is heavily involved in the community, volunteering for various nonprofit organizations and speaking at schools and universities across the country, and even across the pond – she annually speaks at Oxford University.

While she won’t be a hostess, local model Starr Dalton (below) will be among the most visible on the team during the event, helping attendees, vendors, and guests get oriented with the venue and assisting with front-end logistics (tickets, etc.). She has also been instrumental in stirring up buzz for the Facebook page and ticket sales, as well as recruiting models and designers for the show.


Starr Dalton


Here’s more of Dalton’s intriguing story.


The Talent


Fabo Piano plays live at Baldwin Park. Photo by Gavin Ash.

Fabo Piano plays live at Baldwin Park. Photo by Gavin Ash.


Fabo Piano (above) and DJ Magz (below) will provide the sounds for both nights. Fabo Thollon, who will provide live music with his trusty keyboard Cloe’, hails from Munich, Germany and is fluent in four languages (German, English, Italian, and French). Alex “DJ Magz” Maglione is pursuing his Recording Arts degree at Full Sail University and deejays with FireMixRadio. Fabo will entertain the guests while DJ Magz fuels the models on the catwalk.


Alex "DJ Magz" Maglione


The Muscle

The six-feet-plus and burly Joseph “Joe” Bishop III is the team’s security director, which can mean only one thing: keep the peace, or peace out. Stern language aside, Bishop will not only ensure a cohesive crowd, but also ensure safety for all attendees – and make you laugh while he’s at it.


The Media

Mellissa Thomas, Chief Editor for Orlando Fashion Magazine, has and will continue to provide in-depth coverage of Florida Fashion Weekend via interviews with models, designers, team members, partners, local stars, and national celebrities. She manages a team of four bloggers who each bring a unique strength that collectively flavors the magazine with an expansive palette of fashion expertise mixed with engaging stories. The author and freelance writer weaves words full time, offering blogging, copywriting, editing, ghostwriting, poetry, and screenwriting services.

Filmmaker and videographer Hallaye Sow and his team of photographers will record every detail of Friday night’s Kickoff Press Party and Mixer and Saturday’s fashion show. It was he and his team who recorded the casting call in April and cut the eye-catching video you’ve seen bouncing all over Facebook. Sow’s team will also be working with local model and actor Rocco di Cardielli, who will conduct interviews with VIPs as they arrive at the press wall.


Rocco di Cardielli interviewing Russian Roulette models and designer Katiya Peskisheva during Downtown Orlando Fashion Week 2013

Rocco di Cardielli (left) interviews Russian Roulette models and designer Katya Peskisheva (center) during Downtown Orlando Fashion Week 2013. Photo by Paul Sanchez/YNV Magazine.


There’s more on di Cardielli here.

As with any major project, this team rolls deep, and every member is equally important. They will all be present this weekend. Will you?


If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, the team has made it even easier to purchase them by embedding the Eventbrite window in the website. Go to, scroll down to just below the video and click on the “Tickets” link in the center of the page, or the “Purchase Tickets” link in the right sidebar.


Hope to see you there! Share this post with your networks, will ya? 😉


All photos are the property of the subjects except where otherwise noted.



Mellissa Thomas headshotAbout the Author:
Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.

She has published four books, all available on Her most recent release, Faded Diamonds, is now available in paperback on all major online book retailers and digitally available on the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.



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Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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