Reenie Brown, accessories industry legend and philanthropic advocate, has passed away.
Reenie was publisher of Accessories Magazine through the early 1990s, bringing much acclaim to the trade publication (the magazine was initially a black-and-white magazine called Handbags & Accessories, which Reenie relaunched as Accessories Magazine in 1975). Reenie also founded the first accessories trade show in the country in 1981 (Fashion Accessories Expo, FAE, owned by Business Journals, which later became AccessoriestheShow and was recently acquired by UBM). She also founded the Accessories Council, with other industry members in 1993. Her personal awards include the Accessories Achievement Award, the Footwear and Accessories recognition award, and she was honored by the Women’s Crisis Center for “significant and outstanding contributions.”
In 1991, Reenie was a co-founded the industry non-profit FABB, the Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball, with a philanthropic purpose. Since its inception, FABB has raised nearly $12 million for various charities like City Harvest, Coalition for the Homeless, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Save the Children, Alzheimer’s Association, Yale Cancer Research, Amfar AIDS research, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to name a few.
Those who’ve worked with Reenie react to the loss:
Karen Alberg Grossman, Editor-in-Chief of MR Magazine and Former Editor-in-Chief of Accessories: “Reenie hired me in 1980 when I was nine months pregnant with my second child at a time when not too many publishers would give women with children that kind of opportunity. Over the years, she was very much admired for her opinionated, often controversial, lead editorials. She was never afraid to take strong stands on issues from women’s rights to human rights violations in China to the needless suffering of animals to benefit the fur industry. She elevated the stature of a fashion trade magazine into something far more important.”
Andrew Philip, President, Execu-Team Resources Inc.: “I met Reenie in 1990 after I had left the cosmetics industry to join the accessories industry. Reenie told me how much she wanted to create a charity event to raise money for people in need and also animals. I had experience in fund-raising in the Cosmetics industry and said I’d love to help her. Reenie loved animals. She was constantly adopting stray dogs on the trips that she took with her husband Roy. And she had a whole lot of dogs in her own house. As Reenie had done as a magazine publisher, she used her creativity, drive and smarts to create FABB to raise money for needy people and animals. Reenie was persistent and driven, and worked tirelessly on developing ideas and working on all of the logistics of creating the industry’s first Fund Raiser. She mustered up a committee, and was the guiding spirit of FABB for nearly 25 years. She will be sorely missed.”
Susan Garland, Executive Director, FABB: “Reenie was such a generous soul, and never met a person or animal in need that she didn’t find a way of helping. Her work with FABB and the Humane Society became her greatest passions, and she put in tireless hours organizing events and finding ways to support. I have to share one memory that really illustrates her fearless, and sometimes impulsive, nature and undying love for animals. After one year of working very hard to pull FABB together, we had planned a beautiful dinner where the main course featured capons. A week before the event and I received a late-night call from Reenie. I immediately went into crisis mode upon answering. ‘Reenie, what’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘Susan, I just can’t do it!’ She announced. I just can’t serve those little chickens with their feet up in the air!’ Let’s all smile and raise a glass to this beautiful generous soul! I will and I’m sure we all will miss her!
Lorrie Frost, President, FABB: “Reenie was a true innovator for the accessories industry. She made her mark as publisher of Accessories magazine, launched Fashion Accessories Expo (which later turned into AccessoriesTheShow), FABB, and the Accessories Council. I had a professional and personal relationship with Reenie, she will be truly missed.”
Reenie is survived by her daughter Lynn Prowitt and her grandson Cole Prowitt-Smith, both who live in Fairfield, CT. A fierce animal rights advocate, Reenie’s family requests that donations be made to The Humane Society in her honor.