We’ve recently been introduced to our local Atlanta affiliate of the Dress for Success organization and were so touched by a presentation by Sandy Johnson, a Dress for Success Atlanta Senior Staff Member, at a West Midtown Business Alliance meeting, we had to share a bit about her and this fantastic organization with you!
And please keep an eye out for information on a future event we’re working on with Dress for Success Atlanta – it’ll be a great opportunity to sip, shop and support at the same time!
The mission of Dress for Success Atlanta is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
Dress for Success Atlanta, formerly Working Wardrobe, was founded in 1997 by Deborah Wolf. Ms. Wolf created the organization after seeing numerous highly-skilled applicants through her medical staffing agency who could not be placed in professional positions because they did not have appropriate interview attire. She urged her friends and colleagues to help her with donations of gently-used suits and accessories and to volunteer as Personal Shoppers to assist clients in finding just the right outfit for an interview. Ms. Wolf secured donated space from the Apparel Mart. Until 1999, Dress for Success Atlanta was an all-volunteer organization.
In listening to Sandy’s West Midtown Business Alliance presentation and speaking with her since then, we’ve learned that Dress for Success Atlanta really is so much more than providing work appropriate clothes for women looking to enter/reenter the job force. It’s all about preparing them to ace an interview, give them the confidence they need to succeed, as well as the resources they’ll require before and after getting a job to maintain the momentum they’ve built up throughout the process.
One of the most interesting components – and one that’s proven especially valuable to the Dress for Success Atlanta participants – is their “Going Places Network,” which is a 6-10 week program, sponsored by WalMart, where women who are un-or-under-employed work to better themselves to become more desirable job candidates. Through this program, mock interviews are held, resume writing classes take place and general interview preparedness processes are put into place.
Through all of the great work Sandy, and the Dress for Success Atlanta team (comprised mostly of volunteers) do, they boast a 70% success rare for hires within 60 days of program completion! That’s amazing. And the soft skills these women work on, such as eye contact, self expression and response development, shouldn’t be taken lightly. These will be skills bound to these women for the rest of their lives, bettering them not just for immediate job placement, but also advancement over time.
Dress for Success Atlanta also hosts a Pro-Women’s Group, who meet on a monthly basis to encourage job retention and advancement. It offers participants an invaluable network of other professional women who truly understand them, and can provide help and support on a personal level, beyond pure professional networking. The 70 long-time members of this group gather together to discuss anything from life balance to financial literacy.
Sandy shared that each time a woman puts on a suit for the first time, their reaction is priceless. Usually it’s a “WOW!” combined with sharper posture and overall more positive demeanor – and these are immediate results!
We’re so looking forward to working with Sandy and Dress for Success Atlanta, and if you’re interested in giving back to this great organization, check out their “Get Involved” webpage for more info and be sure to keep a lookout for info regarding a future event at the steve mckenzie’s showroom!