Author: cnguyen

Dallas Morning News: Fashion for a Passion benefit Showcases Asian American Designers’ Work

by Deborah Fleck, Dallas Morning News | October 29, 2014

Asian-American fashion designers will present their creations in Tammy Nguyen Lee’s sixth annual Fashion for a Passion fundraiser Saturday. Lee is the founder and president of Against the Grain Productions, a nonprofit dedicated to producing films, media, programs and events that promote awareness and unity of Asian American culture, artistry and identity.

The runway show will include designs from Becky Hollands, Jerry Matthews, Brandy Pham, Mai Pham, Hue Tran, Vatana Watters and Dora Yim. The event will feature performances by Heart & Hero, Jonavi, Andrew Yun and Lizzy Tan. Artists who will have works on display include Kelly Jackson Brownlee, Tam Nguyen, LeUyen Pham, Elaine Wang and scholarship winners Catherine Mai, Sarah Sullivan, Calvin Tran and Dalena Tran.

Elizabeth Dinh of KTVT-TV (CBS 11) and actress LeeAnne Locken will serve as emcees. The fundraiser, which benefits ATG’s supported orphanages, outreach programs and scholarship fund, will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Three Three Three First Avenue in Dallas. Tickets are $50 to $100. Visit


Cykochik Pop-Up Shop at Fashion for a Passion November 1st!


Cykochik, a former Fashion for a Passion participant and one of our valued community shopping partners will have their line of oh-so-chic ATG Cause Clutches  and more for sale at Fashion for a Passion November 1st! With Christmas around the corner, buy and give something that is artistic, fashionable, ethically made AND also  gives back: 20% of all proceeds sold at FFAP will go to our supported orphanages in Asia, scholarship fund and outreach programs. 

Can’t make it to FFAP this year? You can also shop online, where 10% always benefits ATG. Thanks so much to Cykochik Custom Handbags for the continued  support…and for keeping us stylish!

6th Annual Fashion for a Passion Refreshed to Showcase New and Emerging Talent

Press Release Image

Dallas, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit Against The Grain Productions is proud to announce new elements and several exciting firsts for its 6th Annual Fashion for a Passion charity event, taking place appropriately on Saturday, November 1st, at Three Three Three First Avenue. One of Dallas’ hottest must-have fashion tickets and charity events of the fall season, Fashion for a Passion showcases the talents of emerging Asian American fashion designers, artists and performers in one unforgettable night. All proceeds from the event benefit Against The Grain’s supported orphanages in Asia, artistic/leadership scholarship fund and community outreach programs.

 What’s New

An Against The Grain year-round sponsor and auction donor for the past three years, Vatana Watters of acclaimed bridal house Watters Bridal, joins Fashion for a Passion as the event’s first-ever bridal wear presenting designer who will show a mix of bridal, bridesmaid and even flower girl attire. Also new to the event is Brandy Pham of Brandy Pham Jewels (formerly based in New York), who will introduce her line of classic contemporary jewelry to the Dallas Market. Guests will have an intimate opportunity to see her unique pieces up-close-and-personal on live models during the reception.

In addition to this year’s three musical performers, the entertainment line-up includes a first-time ever dance performance by 2014 Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship Winner Lizzy Tan, who is an incoming freshman dance major at UT Austin. Also, instead of being on display, the Project Runway inspired one-of-a-kind ATG T-Shirt Challenge pieces creatively and thoughtfully re-designed by each Presenting Designer will, for the first time, be modeled and come down the runway for guests to enjoy and bid on.

“We are excited to deliver many firsts to make this year’s event even more unique and exciting,” says Against The Grain President and Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. “It’s a testament to the show and our own evolution. We challenge ourselves to keep things fresh for our loyal audience, and it’s in keeping with the spirit of ‘Going Against The Grain’.”

The Fashion for a Passion talent line-up includes:

  • Presenting Designers: Becky Hollands, Jerry Matthews of Nine Muses, Brandy Pham of Brandy Pham Jewels, Mai Pham, Hue Tran of Lizzi London, Vatana Watters of Watters Bridal and Dora Yim of d.p.c. by Dora Yim
  • Exhibiting Artists: art by Kelly Jackson Brownlee, Tam Nguyen, LeUyen Pham, Elaine Wang, Catherine Mai and Sarah Sullivan; short films by Calvin Tran and Dalena Tran
  • Musical Performers/Entertainment: Heart & Hero, Jonavi, Andrew Yun and Lizzy Tan

Actress and spokesmodel LeeAnne Locken and CBS 11 Morning News Reporter Elizabeth Dinh team up once again to emcee the evening, with additional voice-over talent by Sam Liu.

During the event, guests can enjoy tasty bites from Royal Catering, beer/wine from Ben E. Keith, ATG’s signature Pink Lotus cocktail, a gourmet popcorn from HotPoppin’; create fun memories at a photobooth courtesy of Shutterqube; bid on exclusive art and high-ticket items during the live and silent auctions; and check out the latest Audi models from Audi Dallas. Raffle tickets for great prizes will also be available for $10 each. There will be an after-party from 10 pm to 2 am at SISU in Uptown, where FFAP guests with wristbands can enjoy celebrating in a private area with drink/food specials.

A limited number of VIP seats and general admission tickets are for sale online through October 31st or at the door for an additional fee. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

About ATG Against The Grain Productions, Inc.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, Inc., a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is an innovative resource that creates educational, cultural and artistic opportunities for Asians and Asian Americans through films, media, programs and events; promotes awareness and unity of Asian American culture, artistry and identity; and gives voice to significant, relevant and untold stories in our community. Inspired by the stories from producing and directing her award-winning feature documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, President Tammy Nguyen Lee co-founded ATG in 2008 to help raise funds for orphanages in Asia. Continually reaching out and helping those in need, ATG soon after expanded its philanthropy to include scholarships for impressive Asian American high school, college and graduate artists and leaders; awards to help Asian American adoptees attend heritage and culture camps across the U.S.; and hosts events that provide mentorship and leadership to the community. ATG is made up 100% of volunteers – no one is paid, except in hugs and smiles. Administration and marketing costs are kept to an absolute minimum so nearly 100% of donations can be given away.

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Going Against The Grain: Vatana Watters


Vatana Watters, bridal designer and CEO of Watters Bridal and first-time bridal presenting designer at Fashion for a Passion

We are proud to highlight Vatana Watters of Watters Bridal for this month’s Going Against The Grain feature. For the past three years, Watters has been a generous supporter of ATG and Fashion for a Passion, donating gorgeous dresses for auction to the delight of brides-to-be. In addition to providing new looks for auction, audiences at FFAP will get to see highlights from Watters’ bridal, bridesmaid and even flower girl collections float down the runway for the first time ever in her debut as an FFAP (and our first-ever bridal!) presenting designer.

Check out one of our wonderful FFAP media sponsors DFW Style Daily‘s feature on Watters Bridal, too!

Full Name: Vatana Watters
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
Current City: Dallas, Texas
Ethnicity: Thai

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

When I started making bridesmaids gowns in the mid ’80’s, I offered an alternative solution to the big puffy sleeves and bows. I decided to ‘go Against The Grain,’ and it paid off in a great way, due to hard work, determination and staying true to my vision.

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DFW Style Daily: Watters Bridal Preps Romantic Runway for Fashion For A Passion 2014

by Leah Frazier | | Published September 26, 2014 | As the first week of fall concludes, excitement builds for one of the leading events of our social season: Fashion For A Passion. Produced by Dallas-based Against The Grain Productions, this annual fundraiser has garnered widespread attention and continues to gain support for its extraordinary efforts in raising awareness of the Asian American art community. Read more

Orphanage Update: Uu Dam’s Harvest Moon Festival Celebration

Uu Dam1 Uu Dam2 Uu Dam3 Uu Dam4On September 8th, children at Uu Dam, one of our supported orphanages in Vietnam, celebrated “Trung Thu Cho Em” or the “Children’s Harvest Moon Festival” in their play yard.  According to orphanage director PT, it was “very exciting, vibrant and warm with love.” During the happy occasion, the young orphans played and socialized with children from neighboring communities. Read more

#FFAP2014: Introducing Our Exhibiting Artist Line-up

2014 FFAP Arist Collage

DALLAS, TX – Dallas non-profit Against The Grain Productions proudly announces the Exhibiting Artists for its much-anticipated 2014 6th Annual Fashion for a Passion charity event on Saturday, November 1st at Three Three Three First Avenue in Downtown Dallas. Event guests will enjoy each artist’s work in an exciting display of varying media, including film, digital prints, paintings and drawings, and can even take home their favorite pieces during the silent auction portion of the evening. Proceeds from the auction will go to Against The Grain’s supported orphanages in Asia, artistic and leadership scholarship fund and community outreach programs. This year’s artist line-up includes emerging and established Asian American artists, as well as four 2014 Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship Winners.

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Going Against The Grain: Jeannie Mai

Jeannie Mai, Style Expert and co-hose of the nationally syndicated daytime show The Real

Aside from her well-known hosting duties at Style Network, Jeannie Mai is also engaged in several philanthropic causes around the world. Jeannie frequently travels to Asia to volunteer with organizations, such as Heartbeat Vietnam – a nonprofit devoted to improving health care for impoverished children, and NightLight International – an organization committed to rescuing women and children from trafficking by providing employment and vocational opportunities. Jeannie Mai definitely exemplifies all the passions we embrace at ATG and is the perfect spotlight to tie together our love for fashion and providing support and aid to orphanages in Asia.

Full Name: Jeannie Camtu Mai
Hometown: San Jose CA
Current City: LA
Ethnicity: Vietnamese/ Chinese

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

Going Against The Grain is to continuously have a “can do” attitude. It’s optimism, positivity, wisdom, humility, a spiritual and mental combination to propel you forward to face fears and conquer dreams. Read more

#FFAP2014: Introducing Our Musical and Now Dance Performers!

Fashion For a Passion LogoDALLAS, TX – Dallas non-profit Against The Grain Productions proudly announces the performing artists for its much-anticipated Fashion for a Passion charity event. The celebration of Asian American talent, ranging from Filipino to Korean and Singaporean to Thai Americans, will kick off with musical performances by three Kollaboration Dallas artists and, for the first time, a dance performance by a 2014 Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship winner.

The 2014 Fashion for a Passion Featured Performers include:

  • Heart & Hero
  • Jonavi
  • Andrew Yun
    • Lizzy Tan

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There’s No Place Like Home…or Vietnam Culture Camp

by Aivy Nguyen (ATG Social Media Chair)

There’s a phrase that goes, “Home is where the heart is.” For many of the teenagers I worked with these past few weekends, home is in the form of Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnam Culture Camp.

After a 4-year hiatus as a camp counselor for Vietnam Culture Camp, I was invited to come back as a presenter by Catalyst Foundation founder, Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker. The ask for this round of camp was to work with the teen groups and create a media project that portrays their thoughts and feelings on what Vietnam Culture Camp means to them.

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The answers were heartwarming, funny, and surprisingly insightful and full of honesty. And at the end of the weekend, each teen group had worked together to pull together footage and photos for a :30 second media spot to show what camp meant to them as a group.

Working with the teens for the Midwest and East coast camps was quite the 180 from the times inwhich I were I counselor. Instead of bracing each day for piggy back rides, boundless amounts of energy and requests for snacks, I had to switch gears to get the campers to talk about more introspective topics such being stereotyped and misunderstood not just as an Asian, but as a Vietnamese adoptee as well.


The most surprising realization that came from this camp was not from just the weekend, but to find that even after many years of not attending, every camper I was a counselor for still remembered who I was. And every counselor they had been with previously. Vietnam culture camp is not merely just a place to swim, eat and play with friends all weekend, but it has become a place in which they have built a bond with all of us who have been a part of it. A place in which people understand each other. A place where they are not judged. A place in which we are all family.