The phrase “divorce expo” sounds like something out of the 1939 film The Women, which depicts women traveling to Reno to extricate themselves from their marital unions. But that is what New York is playing host to this weekend with “Start Over Smart: A Modern Divorce Expo,” taking place at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street today and tomorrow. While this event is not about skirting the strict divorce laws of yore à la Betty Draper, according to the expo’s founders, it does attempt to make the process of divorce easier for both women and men.
The founders, mother and daughter Francine Baras and Nicole Baras Feuer, describe their endeavor as a “holistic” way of looking at divorce, and the counsel dolled out at the event ranges from tips on finance to fashion advice. Exhibitors include law firms, a matchmaker, a hairstylist, Beaches Resorts and Macy’s. Tonight, there is a mixer.
“We’re trying to build a divorce community so people can come and meet each other and help each other through this,” Nicole told Runnin’ Scared in a phone interview today.
Divorce, her mother Francine said, is “still in the closet,” she said, adding: “The culture needs to open up to people that are divorced, or are divorcing or are post-divorce.”
A statement on the expo’s website explains:
We are on a mission to empower women and men who are going through the stages of divorce to change their lives for the better, keep the costs of their divorce down, and to manage and guide their children successfully through the divorce process. There is a great deal of information out there and some if it very valuable. However, we believe our audience could benefit from a trusted resource that puts a friendly and positive face to the divorce process by building a community, where people can interact, learn, and even have some fun.
Both mother and daughter are divorce mediators, and got the idea for the expo when writing a book on divorce. They heard about a similar event in Paris, went, and were inspired to start planning their own event in the states.
“This is a place that divorce comes alive for people,” Francine said.
(Nicole explained that there have been small divorce expos in the States.)
And, on a certain level, the expo is personal: Nicole recently went through her own divorce, wherein she realized that the experience “really affects every aspect of your life.”
“This is her wishlist of what she would have wished to have,” her mother said.