Tag Archives: Diana Kuen

Diana Kuen’s CharityRaggs

Diana Kuen’s blog is called Girl Reinvented.

That’s an apt name. In 2010 she quit her life running a successful publishing business, managing and producing travel sections for the New York Times and Boston Globe — with summers spent in the Hamptons, and winters snowboarding in Vermont — to take a long road trip across America.

She gave up her apartment. For nearly a year, she lived in a camper.

It was the first time she’d ever slowed down, and figured out what really mattered to her.

Diana Kuen, on the road.

The epochal journey helped her rejuvenate the right side of her brain. “It sat pretty dormant for years while I ran in the hamster wheel,” Kuen says.

In the summer of 2016 — still exploring new passions — she learned how to sew. She also took a Brooklyn screen printing workshop (“because, why the hell not?”).

Kuen became so excited, she formed a textile company making whimsical dish towels. Soon her creations were in 120 Camping World stores nationwide.

Faith and risk have carried her far. All the way, in fact, to Westport.

While living with her brother in Fairfield, she found the Saugatuck Rowing Club. She fell in love with the neighborhood and its people.

Now she lives nearby. She rides her bike to the club, where she coaches rowing. She teaches standup paddleboard and runs clambakes for Downunder.

She’s also got her own textile business — 2, actually. There’s DishRaggs, and a charitable brand extension called CharityRaggs. She gives part of her earnings to worthy organizations, including Autism Speaks, animal rights and rescue groups, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Sandy Hook Promise.

“Each towel is a labor of love, a work of art, and a little piece of me,” Kuen says. “Think of DishRaggs the same way you might hang a framed picture on your wall.”

They’re fun and whimsical, with sayings, photos and logos.

And — because Kuen has just been here a few months, but loves “06880” (both the town and the blog) — there are a few special “06880” DishRaggs too. (With matching gift bag!) Each sale benefits this blog.

Diane Kuen’s “06880” towel.

From now through November 15, Kuen offers 20% off all full-price DishRaggs (CharityRaggs excluded).

Get your holiday shopping done early! Find the perfect hostess gift! Support “06880”!

Just click here for Kuen’s entire collection; click here for the “06880” items. At checkout, use the promo code “06880” (without the quotation marks).

The next time you see the way cool — and very generous — Diana Kuen, be sure to thank her.

And welcome her to “06880.”

Diane Kuen’s “06880” gift bag.

Saugatuck Rowing Club Sets Sights On Horizons

Rowing is a great sport.

It’s demanding, but healthful. It teaches discipline, teamwork and goal-setting. It instills self-confidence, self-control and pride. Plus, nothing beats being out on the water at 5 a.m., in a driving rain.

But rowing also has a stigma: It’s expensive, and elitist.

For the past 4 years, Saugatuck Rowing Club has defied that stigma. The Riverside Avenue facility throws open its doors — and provides a place in its boats — to a special group of teenagers.

And the kids have given back as much as they’ve gotten.

Thanks to a partnership with Greens Farms Academy’s Horizons program — a national project that provides underserved children with academic, social, emotional learning and enrichment programs — SRC welcomes more than a dozen 8th graders for 6 weeks each summer.

Three afternoons a week, the Bridgeport children clamber off buses and into the sprawling clubhouse. Very quickly, it becomes their home.

“Our mission is twofold,” says Diana Kuen, a beginner/intermediate SRC coach who oversees the program.

“We want to introduce them to a sport would never otherwise have a chance to experience. And it’s our responsibility to chip away at the socioeconomic barriers that exist in our own backyard.”

They start like many beginners. Some are terrified of the river. None ever touched an oar.

Under Kuen’s direction, they row on an ergometer. When they’re ready, they step into a boat and onto the water. Figuratively — and literally — they jump into the deep end.

Diana Kuen, and a Horizons rower.

Kuen and co-coach Bridge Murphy watch closely. They figure out which kids will work best where, and who is comfortable going out alone.

The new rowers are like boys and girls everywhere. They’re quick learners. They want to succeed. They love to compete.

And they sure have fun.

“These kids bring joy and levity with them every day,” Kuen says. “They are genuine, authentic and happy.

“Each afternoon is filled with laughter, pride and a sense of purpose. When they step into the club, they light everyone up.”

Another day, with Horizons rowers on the Saugatuck River.

None of that comes easily. The coaches demand that these youngsters — just like any new rowers — step out of their comfort zones.

One girl was terrified. The first victory was getting her out on a launch, with the coaches. Gradually, she eased into a boat.

At the end of 6 weeks, Kuen says, “she was an outstanding rower.”

One boy was so successful at rowing with 7 teammates that he asked if he could scull alone. Once he pushed off from the dock however, he froze.

Kuen swam out to get him. “We tell them we will never let anything bad happen. We will do whatever we can to help.”

Every day throughout the Horizons program, the coaches and kids talk.

“They’re great communicators,” Kuen says. “They understand that this is about so much more than rowing.”

On the final day, each 8th grader spoke from their hearts about what the program meant. Kuen and Murphy listened, with tears in their eyes.

That final session ended with a pizza party. An SRC member — someone who’d witnessed the kids’ transformation, and appreciated the can-do attitude they brought every day — bought ice cream cakes for everyone.

On the way out, SRC general manager Suzanne Pullen overheard 2 girls talking.

“I’ll miss this place so much,” one said.

But not as much as the Saugatuck Rowing Club will miss them.

(Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

The Bridgeport Horizons group poses proudly.