Beyond The Beauty

Beyond The Beauty: Marie Thorne Interview

Marie Thorne at the MVT Projects x Divas & Dolls  Fashion For A Cause LA

by Evan Jackson

It’s hard to narrow down Marie Thorne, philanthropist and head of the organization MVT Projects, to a few words but, when I met with her and spoke to her I automatically thought she was poised, purposeful, and most noticeably passionate. Marie Thorne created Project Prom early in 2013 to provide underprivileged young girls in the Los Angeles area prom dresses. Through Project Prom she helped grow and expand it into MVT Projects with a group of talented individuals, mostly women, who shared her vision. MVT Projects emphasizes giving back, community, and sisterhood through their charitable works and fun events such as their bi-monthly Social Fridays. MVT Projects also created the Owning Your Beautiful campaign where they ask women to define their beauty. For Marie Thorne her beauty extends beyond her physical nature by being an inspiration and actively contributing to her community. Through the creation of MVT Projects Marie Thorne has proven that she’s here to stay and will make a lasting impression on this world.    

What drove you to create MVT Projects?         
MVT Projects started out initially as the non-profit organization Project Prom that helped underprivileged young girls in the Los Angeles area. Throughout high school and college, I wanted to work with battered women and children shelters. I thought a great channel to begin that was working with underprivileged girls.  As an organization Project Prom helps provide donated prom dresses for young girls throughout the Los Angeles area with an underlining message of community and giving back. I established Project Prom early in 2013 and we officially launched with our first group of girls sending them to prom in April 2013. Through there we transitioned to creating MVT Projects. We recently had a launch event for MVT Projects and our Owning Your Beautiful campaign, which gained interest from blogs and sponsors. MVT Projects cover a wider spectrum of giving back to the community and connecting with other small businesses and charitable organizations.     

What would you say was your boldest moment when you began to embark on MVT Projects?
During our first year of Project Prom when we delivered the prom dresses to the students the principal had informed me that none of the students had tickets to the prom. I had argued with the principal back and forth to fund the girls tickets and we would pay for all other amenities (hair, make up, and transportation), but like he reiterated this was not possible. So for the thirteen students, we managed to raise money and fund the students’ prom tickets as well.

Why do you think it’s important for people in their community to reach back and help the next generation?
I’m a really big believer in ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. You see so many students and children deemed as underprivileged and lacking basic resources and that became really bothering to me. Especially someone like myself who grew up in Los Angles and I don’t live that far of a distance from them. Some of these kids don’t have basic amenities. It reminds me that there is such a disparity in our communities and that’s part of the reason why I created Project Prom and MVT Projects. 

When did you decide to bring in the major contributors of MVT Projects Vonye Richardson, Ashley Tate, and Jenifer Tate?
Jennifer Tate and Ashley Tate started the organization with me as well as Matthew Brown. Vonye Richardson came in April of 2014. Matthew serves as the visual director so mainly the photography and videography, making sure that the aesthetics look right for the events and campaigns. Vonye is our creative director so she handles the personnel. She’s essentially the liaison between me and the organizations we work with. Jennifer is our creative director who comes up with the ideas, campaigns, and creative plans for our events. Ashley and Shvawn Bausley are our administrative directors. 

One of the many themes of MVT Projects is togetherness, Black womanhood, sisterhood, and a sense of community. Where is that derived from?
In high school and college I became interested in woman studies. And in college, I was a communications major so I began to feel more comfortable speaking my mind. I also noticed a lack of sisterhood, especially among black women.  I wanted to create an atmosphere that would cultivate that sense of sisterhood and break down those stigmas that black women could not work well together. That is why for our last event we partnered up with another young woman Breann Cook that owns Divas & Dolls, a clothing e-botique based out of Los Angeles. MVT Projects is usually viewed as a woman’s organization focusing on women empowerment, which is derived from my strong affinity for sisterhood and womanhood. In the future we want to incorporate men, create a sense of brotherhood and touch on relevant issues in the community.

Which organizations and entrepreneurs do you hope to work with in 2015 and beyond?
I’ve followed Black Girl Fly Magazine since they started, I really would like to work with them. And of course, I would love to work on the OWN Network with Oprah who’s always been a humanitarian and involved in philanthropy. Karen Civil is one of my favorites. I love how well rounded she is and how she places emphasis on humanitarian efforts. What she represents for me is a very beautiful woman, very well spoken, creative and still places a high regard on philanthropy. It’s just everything I as a person want to embody and what I want MVT Projects to represent.

Through your philanthropy with MVT Projects what has been your most rewarding experience?
The first year was one of my favorites, and surprising enough was the best organized. I really wanted to encourage the idea of paying it forward and giving back to the students we were helping. The prom dresses we had received were donated from an assortment of individuals, people who had been in beauty pageants, owned boutiques and people that just wanted to be a part of the movement. Not only did these students want to give the prom dresses back, but also wanted to help us acquire new dresses. I thought it was amazing that they were so willing to give back and community orientated.

Tell us more about your Owning Your Beautiful campaign?                                                                                  
Jennifer Tate had the idea of the Owning Your Beautiful campaign in the same vein as the Dove Beauty Care campaign. She wanted to explore the idea of how women define beauty. Matthew and I would share ideas about the direction and what was possible, we decided on a video campaign accompanied by a photo shoot. We assembled a diverse group of women and told them to come in bare-faced, no make-up, and revealed to them what the campaign was about. We received a lot of candid answers and honest feedback.  

What do you think makes someone beautiful and how do you own your beauty?
 For me, any one that can serve as being an inspiration for others that’s beauty at its finest. I consistently look for people that inspire me in all areas of my life. I own my beauty by giving back and paying it forward to others. I want to establish a legacy where people will remember these acts of volunteerism, these campaigns and inspire people for generations to come.

What future plans do you have for yourself and for MVT Projects?
Throughout 2015 I want to expand MVT Projects into different facets such as art in the community, music, and fashion. Hopefully we can get some of these musical artists that the kids look up to come on board, pay it forward, and emphasize giving back to the community. I also want MVT to have a reality TV show so people can see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. I want MVT Projects, Project Prom, and the idea of Owning Your Beautiful to be worldwide.
Personally, for myself, I’m coming for Oprah’s spot.                 

Where can people reach MVT Projects?
People can reach me on Facebook, Marie Thorne Twitter, @Marie_VAT and Instagram, @mvthorne

MVT Projects Launch Event (Shvawn Bausley, Ashley Tate, Marie Thorne, Vonye Richardson & Jennifer Tate)



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