We recently launched the first of our beyoutiful series with Mara Ladines and Jeremy Lee Sanchez. Mara designs fashion and runs her own online store, By Mara, while Jeremy works towards his passion in ASL. He creates daily ASL videos on his Instagram account (@asl_nyc) which has a nearly 3K following.

They both are leading lives that are uniquely theirs and they still maintain their personalities while making calls with Convo. We wanted to show the freedom that Mara and Jeremy have with Convo as a seamless part of their daily lives, whether it’s to do business or to make calls on the go. Our interpreters are trained to stay true to their expression and our products, like Convo Lights, allow them to design the calling experience to fit their lifestyles. This is what beyoutiful means to us. We believe that being yourself is beautiful.

This is one of the many stories of real lives of Deaf people making it everyday and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of this story and to be able to feature it. To us, supporting other Deaf-owned businesses or Deaf professionals is more than a campaign. It is a movement, which we kicked off in the heart of Mara and Jeremy’s home base: Brooklyn, New York.

Here’s a behind the scenes peek of our beyoutiful launch event!

Pepperoni and jalapeno pizza, a favorite of Mara and Jeremy’s, and their favorite beverages were waiting for the guests when they arrived to the launch event. Everybody wore black, white, or grey, which are our couple of the night’s favorite colors.

Guests enjoyed browsing at the clothing line of By Mara fashion merchandises and seeing our Convo Lights demos. They also mingled heartily until it was time for our own Wayne Betts, Jr. to kick off the event.

Wayne explained how beyoutiful captures the experience we’ve always aimed for ever since Convo was born. You could say that beyoutiful has been nearly 6 years in the making. And then, it was time for the video! Mara and Jeremy had never seen the video before this event, so their first time watching was with the audience in Brooklyn!

“I was amazed at the connection between the video and the audience. You could feel the mood rise and fall along with the video,” Jeremy said.

“For me, that was the moment we knew that we needed to do more,” Mara remembered.

After that, Mara and Jeremy got the chance to talk with the crowd about their businesses and experiences with Convo Lights. Jeremy also gave a surprise performance!

That was a definite highlight! Jeremy also performed the full A to Z story of The Matrix that you saw in the video. You can see it in its entirety below!

Nobody wanted the night to end when it did, but this was just the beginning. Since this event, Mara and Jeremy have found a local space where people can come in and browse By Mara merchandise and take Jeremy’s ASL classes! Their grand opening of their new studio will be on March 27th.

Best of luck, Mara and Jeremy. One more surprise for you, reader, before we go: the story of how Mara and Jeremy started going steady officially.

It was so much fun to get to know Mara and Jeremy and we’re excited to introduce the next person in the beyoutiful series to you this Thursday, February 26!

Stay tuned.


Two Galas, One Night

December 20th, 2014

Last month, we attended two different galas in California and had a terrific time! To see the highlights at both events, read on.

Sip, Savor, & Support Gala

for California School for the Deaf’s (CSDF) Association of Families, Teachers, and Counselors (AFTC) on November 15, 2014

This was the second year that we reserved a table at this Gala. Our employees and interpreters at the nearby Headquarter in Pleasanton (and several others from out of state!) dressed up and headed over to this event.

Our Ed Bosson flew in from Texas!

There were over 170 silent auction items and 30-45 live auction items. When we saw the Mozzeria trolley cake, we just had to bid on it. This item was meaningful to us since we sponsored Mozzeria’s trolley tour last October.

We were the top three bidders and had to literally race to the finish to win the cake. Convo Support Manager Robert Herin shocked all of us with his speed as he dashed to win the cake! It was the perfect way to end the evening for us.

The gala drew a crowd of 125 people and raised about $31,000. An impressive outcome!

Our table signing “pizza!”

(Photo credit: Erin Michele Photography)

CSUN NCOD 50th Anniversary Gala

for National Center on Deafness (NCOD) at California State University Northridge (CSUN) on November 15, 2014

On the same night in the southern part of California, CSUN hosted its gala to celebrate 50 years of National Center on Deafness’ exemplary service. It was also the night when Dr. Roz Rosen made her final appearance as Director of NCOD before retiring. To make the evening even more exciting, the theme was “It’s a 60s Pop Art World!” and many dressed accordingly.

Rosen and our CEO Jarrod Musano cheesing it for the camera

Our fun table!

About 240 guests attended and were waited on by 40 Deaf and hard-of-hearing students working at the event. Marlee Matlin and Herb Larson were auctioneers for the De’VIA Artworks.

Two of the many beautiful De’VIA works up for audition. Nancy Rourke did the portrait of Rosen. See the feature we did on Rourke and her colorful art here!

At the end of the night, approximately $22,000 was raised after expenses! Well deserved, NCOD.

We’re all Gala-ed out… just for now. Enjoy your weekend, folks!

(Photography credit: Jay Kowalczyk)


It’s that time of the year again! Before you run to the closest department store and check off your list of gifts, consider buying holiday gifts from Deaf-owned businesses. Here are some ideas to get you started!

For the life partner

Charmeleonized Ones

Get your favorite photos plastered on a purse, camera strap, buttons, and more. A great and creative way to carry photos of loved ones! Gina Pasini, owner of Charmeleonized Ones, also paints silhouettes on canvases. You can’t go wrong with photos on your partner’s favorite things.

Website: etsy.com/shop/aabcdefginaa

Facebook: facebook.com/aabcdefginaa

For the offspring


The wonderful illustrator, Maureen Klusza, creates cool drawings of names finger-spelled in ASL and is open to other illustration requests. Perfect for your kid’s bedroom door!

Website: moeart.com

Facebook: facebook.com/moeartpage

For the fur-kid


Your four-legged friends deserve something sweet this time of the year, too! Cynthia Murray and her husband make yummy treats for your dogs and cats in flavors like mint, pumpkin, and sweet potato. The best thing? All ingredients are organic, natural, and non-GMO!

Website: 4legz.com

Facebook: facebook.com/4legz

For the grandparent

Jon Savage Gallery

Turn a portrait of yourself or even your grandparent(s) from their younger years into pop art! Jon Savage will paint a portrait on a canvas with bright colors. It’s a gift that’s guaranteed to please!

Website: jonsavagegallery.com

Facebook: facebook.com/JonSavageArtist

For the gadget geek

In A Flash Laser

We bet you know someone that’s always on a gadget. Why not make that gadget fun to look at? Get a phone case, laptop, tablet, and more engraved for a personal touch!

Website: ipadlaserengraving.com

Facebook: facebook.com/inaflashlaser

For the fashionista

By Mara

Wear love in your language with Mara Ladines’s clothing designs. Your friends who want to be stylish and comfortable at the same time will undoubtedly love anything from Mara. She also sells her signature “ILY” on tote bags, buttons, car decals, and more!

Website: bymara.com

Facebook: facebook.com/byMARA

For the artist

Dahl Spiritual Art

Janna Dahl creates these detailed and colorful paintings that’s sure to mesmerize. Many of her paintings include the ILY handshape or the shape of an eye, but somehow Janna manages to make them seem unique and different! Her painting would be uplifting in anyone’s home.

Website: dahlspiritualart.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Dahlspiritualart

For the foodie


Russ and Melody Stein’s Napoletana pizzas have won the hearts of reviewers on Zagat and Yelp and will certainly be a favorite of any foodie. So, get them a gift certificate! If you’re not in San Francisco, it’s just an extra reason to visit!

Website: mozzeria.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Mozzeria

For the accessory lover

Deafinite Designs

A group of artisans create a variety of homemade jewelry and they are gorgeous! Anyone who loves jewelry would definitely appreciate wearing something that’s one-of-a-kind and handmade.

Website: etsy.com/shop/DeafiniteDesigns

Facebook: facebook.com/Deafinitedesigns

For the smart aleck

Smart Alex, Inc.

Top off your wrapped holiday gift with a funny card by Smart Alex. Your smart-alecky friends will love it!

Website: smartalexinc.com

Facebook: facebook.com/smartalexinc

The list doesn’t end here. There are so many more Deaf-owned businesses that you can buy from, too! Check out Holiday Hop, which is an initiative to spotlight Deaf-owned businesses by T.S. Writing Services and Your Desk’s Assistant. Holiday Hop is featuring a Deaf-owned business along with a giveaway or offer everyday from December 1 to 14, so hop over to their website and Facebook page to join in on the fun!

We would like to support this effort by gifting you Denver the Keychain if you buy from any Deaf-owned business in the month of December. Click here to get your Denver the Keychain gift!

If you have another holiday gift idea by a Deaf-owned business, leave it in the comments below! Stay warm and cozy through this season.


On Thursday, October 16, we gathered with the Rochester Deaf community at Lovin’ Cup to re-define lights. We were warmly welcomed and for RIT alums CEO Jarrod Musano and CUX Wayne Betts, Jr., it was like coming home.

Lovin’ Cup is an artsy cafe located on RIT campus. The assistant manager there also happened to be a Convo interpreter! Working with the Lovin’ Cup staff to make Re-defining Lights happen was a wonderful experience and their food was divine. They also served Convo cappuccinos. Call us biased, but we thought that they looked really cool.

All of us had such a grand time meeting new faces and catching up with old ones that it was almost difficult to get the show started! Once Wayne took the stage, however, everyone immediately averted their eyes to the living room setup, ready to see how lights would be re-defined.

“Who here still has a lightbulb that looks like a fire alarm when it gets incoming calls?” Wayne asked the crowd. Dozens of arms shot up.

For something that had such a tremendous value to the Deaf community, our lighting technology has been incredibly limiting… until now. Wayne proceeded to introduce a better solution for our ringing experience: Convo Lights.

“I always thought that my ideal ringing solution belonged to the world of The Jetsons, but then Philips came out with Hue. That technology allowed our dreams to become real,” Wayne said. “Our team designed Convo Lights with our lifetimes of Deaf experiences. We knew when the design felt right.”

Wayne shared a story that happened when he and Jarrod flew to The Netherlands for Philips Innovation Experience Expo recently. After giving Convo Lights demos, he had a hearing person come up to him and ask if he could have Convo Lights for himself. Wayne told him that the technology was available for Deaf people only.

“It was the first time the Deaf community was ahead in technology,” Wayne mused.

We wanted to share the joy we experienced with Convo Lights, so we had three giveaways! Congratulations to the winners that night: Karen Bieter, Sarah Gordon, and Lorne Farovitch.

Rochester, thank you for being wonderful! We hope you had an illuminating time re-defining lights with us. We know we did.

Learn more about Convo Lights at convorelay.com/lights.


Talking About Art with David Call

September 12th, 2014

“Let your inner soul be your guide,” David Call says. It is the message that he tries to teach his students at school. It is also what he practices at home. His personal studio is small, but the walls have a powerful energy. It feels as if his artworks capture the inner joy and struggle of so many Deaf individuals.

David’s students often learn to look deep within themselves to find their own individual messages through their art, too. He believes that art can express what we can’t say in ASL or English.

We loved filming David and capturing his work and message in action. We were blown away with his interpretation of Convo Portal! What do you think of it?

To see more of David, check out his website and enjoy the fun questions that he answered for us below!

So long!


For the second summer now, Camp Mark 7 Deaf Film Camp was a smashing success! This 2-week program for 12 to 16-year-old campers was taught by the finest group of Deaf experts in the film industry. The final project for the campers was to create a music video.

You might have seen last year’s production, starring Azora Telford and the campers of ’13. This year, the song chosen was the popular “Happy” by Pharrell. Azora makes a return in this video, and that’s not the only thing you’ll love about it!

If this music video put a smile on your face, you’re not the only one. It got media attention everywhere in the U.S. Check out the coverage in Elite DailyHuffington Post, and Entertainment Tonight! Some international media outlets even posted this music video on their sites! We feel incredibly proud to be a sponsor for Camp Mark 7 Deaf Film Camp.

Did you catch some familiar Convo faces in the music video? See below for who gave back to the Deaf Film Camp this year and to find out what makes them happy.

“What makes me happy is coming home from work to see my wife, Sophie.” (Fun fact: Wayne and Sophie met during Deaf Film Camp last year!)

-Wayne Betts, Jr., Chief of User Experience.

“The kids at CM7′s spontaneous thinking makes me happy!”

-Braam Jordaan, Director of Creative Marketing.

“Opportunity and equality are what makes me happy!”

-Azora Telford, VP of Interpreting.

Wayne, Braam, and Azora worked closely with the campers and taught them the magic of filmmaking. There are two more people who contributed  behind the scenes that we can’t forget!

“Making anyone smile makes me happy!”

-Jay Kowalcyzk, Media Specialist. Jay assisted with the equipment recommendations.

“Seeing something that I built grow makes me happy. Also, the smiles on the kids’ faces!”

-Jarrod Musano, CEO. Jarrod has served on the Board of Camp Mark 7 since 2011.

Exciting times lie ahead for Deaf Film Camp. The program recently released a brand new website and will be offering its first-ever Advanced Film Camp, coming this October! On a final note, we are thrilled to announce that we are officially sponsoring Camp Mark 7 Advanced Film Camp for October 2014 and Deaf Film camp for Summer 2015!

What makes YOU happy? Tell us here!