When her granddaughter died suddenly in 2015, Yvette Hicks said her family wanted to do something to honor her memory.
And for the last two years, they’ve been working toward the opening of a nonprofit that carries her name: Anaya — or YaYa for short.
YaYa’s House of Fashion will combine Anaya’s love of fashion and Hicks’ passion for helping children. In the near future, it will offer free clothing to children in St. Clair County who are in crisis and affordable fashion for others.
Donated clothing for children between 5 and 15 years old will be housed in a store at 10251 Lincoln Trail in Fairview Heights. Its grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26.
“We wanted to make something positive come out of something so tragic,” Hicks said. “And here it is.”
Hicks, a social worker at High Mount School in Swansea, has seen students in crisis, from fires that destroyed their belongings to domestic violence that forced them to flee their homes.
“Simple things like clothing can go a long way in making sure that a kid is able to come to school and (is) successful academically,” she said. “As a social worker, seeing the needs, knowing that my granddaughter really enjoyed fashion, the two just seemed to work well together, and we really worked hard to make this happen.”
Anaya was 6 years old when she died from a rare heart condition. She had just finished kindergarten. Hicks said she loved to dress up in wigs and jewelry and walk in high heels even when she was a toddler.
“Her and I would hang out a lot, and one of the last times we hung out, she took my phone and recorded a video of her outfit that she had on that day,” Hicks said. “She’s like, ‘OK. I want you guys to check out my outfit. If you like it, go to YouTube and let me know.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ But that means so much to me because I have that memory of her, and I didn’t even know she was recording that.”
Anaya didn’t have a YouTube account, but Hicks said she did have a big personality and imagination.
As a social worker, seeing the needs, knowing that my granddaughter really enjoyed fashion, the two just seemed to work well together.
Yvette Hicks on nonprofit YaYa’s House of Fashion
Hicks is excited about all the children the store will reach and help in honor of Anaya.
In addition to the store’s rack of free clothes for children in crisis, Hicks said there will also be shirts for $2 and pants for $3. Some racks with name-brand items will be $10 or less. An online store with the same name will offer clothing for $10 or more. Hicks said the profits will be used to run the store.
“I think if Anaya was still living, this right here would be something that she would just be ecstatic (about), just to come and visit and dress up, have fun,” Hicks said.
The store will also offer community service opportunities on Saturdays for children in the court system, according to Hicks.
“We’re really excited about being able to help kids in other capacities, too, like get back on the right track,” she said.
For the grand opening on Saturday, Hicks said the store will give away free school supplies to any student from St. Clair County who visits from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be music and snacks like hot dogs offered.
Anyone interested in helping YaYa’s House of Fashion can drop off clothing donations at the Fairview Heights store after it opens. Monetary donations are also being collected through a GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/yayas-house-of-fashion.
At a glance
- What: Grand opening of YaYa’s House of Fashion
- When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26
- Where: 10251 Lincoln Trail No. 9, Fairview Heights, IL