Stuart and Lauren Sax, owners of Angelika Clothing Boutique in Islamorada, are no strangers to cancer.
Lauren’s youngest sister lost her life to ovarian cancer less than two years ago. She also lost her father to lung and liver cancer.
Stuart’s father lost his battle with cancer after one malignant skin melanoma went untreated and a second melanoma spread to his brain. Additionally, his brother-in-law had a family history of heart disease and passed away at the age of 49 after losing his battle with liver and pancreatic cancer.
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, they opted to expand their scope of education and awareness to include all forms of cancer awareness and wellness.
“This is not a somber time,” Stuart insisted. “This month is meant to be a celebration of life.”
Lauren insists that their mission is not only to give something back to the customers and community that has given so much to them, but to also educate and touch every person they can.
“There are too many people in the Keys who don’t want to get preventative testing because of fear or can’t afford it because of a lack of insurance,” she explained.
Originally, from the Chicago area, Stuart and Lauren met at a family barbeque. After a brief period of courtship, the two were engaged to be married. Since both came from families in the retail fashion and beauty supply business, their wedding had to be held in June, which coincidentally is also a well-known sale time in the industry.
Though after they married and continued working in the retail industry, fate would have it that the pair would relocate to the Miami area to help run another family businesses.
“We left the retail fashion business for ten years,” Stuart said matter-of-factly.
He and Lauren agreed that simply managing a set of businesses from the confines of an office was simply not as satisfying as interacting with customers on a daily basis.
“I really missed the fashion and glamour,” Lauren laughed, adding that Stuart, much like her own father, was a natural ‘people person’.
In April 2003, Stuart took his bride on a weekend getaway to Key West to celebrate her birthday. After a quick pit stop in Islamorada, Stuart noticed a ‘Boutique for Sale’ sign, and the main topic of conversation for the weekend was established.
“‘We should really look into buying that store’ he kept saying to me all weekend,” Lauren laughed.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Angelika Clothing Boutique has been open in Islamorada for 14 years and the Sax family has since expanded the store’s offering in their past six years of ownership.
“We are very glad to be back in the retail business,” Lauren proclaimed with her bright, sincere smile.
As the couple searched for a local’s appreciation type event to coordinate, Lauren realized September’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month preceded Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Information on early cancer detection, genetic testing, and cancer risk management will be available from the American Cancer Society and other foundations along with several special events each Saturday. Angelika will donate funds to cancer research from a variety of items sold throughout the month and visitors to the boutique can buy raffle tickets to win prizes from Angelika with all proceeds going to cancer research foundations.
While breast cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US an increasing number of diagnosis in ovarian, cervical, and male oriented cancers like testicular and prostate are being found.
“More than 40,000 women are still dying each year of breast cancer with another 15,000 from ovarian cancer,” Lauren said. “Stuart and I will continue to do whatever is necessary to educate and inform women about the need for early detection, genetic testing, and new treatment options. We have an ongoing information center in Angelika devoted to this end.”
A photo of Lauren’s sister, Jan, sits next to the register with a request for donations to help find a cure for ovarian cancer. A wealth of information and pamphlets sits just next to the picture.
“We’re always amazed by the stories our customers begin to share with our staff,” Stuart and Lauren agreed. “Our staff is very knowledgeable, and they’ve even designed some mannequins in the boutique with flowing floral dresses and gorgeous head wraps.
“We want to show women in treatment for cancer that even though they’ve lost their hair, they can still look like a woman and feel good about themselves,” Stuart explained.
“There’s more reason to come visit the store than just fashion,” Lauren added. “This is really a pivotal time for some women and their future health.”
Information on early cancer detection, genetic testing, and cancer risk management will be available from the American Cancer Society and other foundations along with several special events each Saturday.
October 3 will be devoted to wellness with assistance from chiropractor Dr. Erica Garrett, the Homestead Diagnostic Center, and massage therapy with Shavaun Young and Sofy Wasser.
October 10 will feature a trunk showing of holiday and Spring 2010 handbags, jewelry & accessories from Brighton along with healthcare discussions with Dr. Bernie Ginsberg and a visit by the Monroe County Bloodmobile.
October 17 will offer a trunk showing and preview of Vera Bradley bags and accessories and a special showing of handcrafted jewelry by Wilhelmina. Additional visits by area health providers are planned for this date also.
October 24 will again be devoted to wellness and beauty with information from the Visiting Nurse Association in Tavernier along with massage therapists Donna Bolton & Kathleen Heath. Beauty tips and nail care by Adela of Marie Scott will also be available.
Lauren Sax (far right) with her older sister, Linda Fleischer, mother Alvina Shutan and youngest sister Jan Finer, who lost her life to ovarian cancer.
For every pair of French Dressing jeans sold during the month of October, the company is donating $1 to cancer research. Stuart and Lauren took it a step further and said for every pair of French Dressing jeans tried on, Angelika will match that $1 donation.
Popular luggage designer Vera Bradley created a pattern especially for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The staff at Angelika is working to show women that even while they may lose their hair during chemotherapy treatments, they can still look fashionable and feel like a woman.
Stu and Lauren
Angelika Clothing Boutique owners Lauren and Stuart Sax are decorating their store in pink and teal to celebrate Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness. A plethora of literature and informational sessions is available on genetic testing and preventative care for all types of cancers that affect both men and women.
Lit and memorial
One of her last photos before she passed away, Lauren’s sister, Jan Finer, beams at customers next to the register with a request for donations to help find a cure for ovarian cancer.