Empowering Women, One Suit At a Time
When Neshea, a young, single mother, came to Dress for Success Lexington she said she was shy, had low self-esteem and was lacking confidence. She never realized the impact that her experience with Dress for Success Lexington would have on her life nearly four years later.
“Our goal is to empower women, and help change their lives, every day,” said Analisa. “A single mother of one in Kentucky needs to earn $36,000 annually to afford the basic essentials of housing, childcare, food and transportation, so Dress for Success Lexington gives women who need a helping hand the tools they need to provide a sustainable income for their families.”
Neshea was the first Dress for Success Lexington client. Referred by Step by Step Lexington, one of 30 agencies with which Dress for Success has partnered with in the community, Neshea was eager to start working on job training and resume writing skills.
Our team has witnessed the difference an outfit makes in an interview and daily work environment more times than we can count. One single outfit can certainly change a person’s entire journey.
“I thank Dress for Success Lexington for helping me get my job due to the fact the manager said they weren’t hiring,” Neshea said. “The manager said she was impressed with my resume and offered me a position.”
Fast forward four years. Neshea has gotten her dream job and become involved as a mentor. She has also gotten married and moved into a new house.
Recycle the Runway
Dress for Success Lexington’s annual fundraiser “Recycle the Runway”, presented by Remedy Intelligent Staffing, will return to the Grand Reserve on Tuesday, September 12. The fundraiser is an opportunity for professional and amateur designers to showcase their skills, and for the community to participate in an exciting and impactful afternoon.
“A partnership between Remedy Staffing and Dress for Success Lexington makes perfect sense,” said Lynn Braker, franchise owner for Remedy Intelligent Staffing. “We have been placing women in jobs with Central Kentucky’s top companies for 23 years. Our team has witnessed the difference an outfit makes in an interview and daily work environment more times than we can count. One single outfit can certainly change a person’s entire journey.”
Since opening our doors in October of 2013, Dress for Success Lexington has served close to 600 women, ranging in age from 16-72, many of whom don’t have their GED or high school diploma.
As the most popular event of the year, Recycle the Runway’s Chair Candace French, and board vice chair of Dress for Success Lexington, anticipates another successful runway show with 150 in attendance and 15 amateur designers showcasing their designs.
Guests will enjoy a “recycled” fashion show, where local designers will unveil runway-ready fashions made out of “unsuitable” garments. The one-of-a-kind creations will be featured on the runway and then judged by local fashion-savvy judges. New this year, the fashion show
In 2012, Analisa Wagoner, Co-Founder and Executive Director for Dress for Success Lexington, found herself at a crossroads with her career. She was unemployed and looking to give back to the community she grew up in.
“Since I grew up in Lexington, I wanted to do something to give back to the women in our community,” she said. “Dress for Success®, which is an international non-profit organization located in 146 cities in 26 countries around the world, was actively looking to open an affiliate here in Lexington. The timing was impeccable. Since opening our doors in October of 2013, Dress for Success Lexington has served close to 600 women, ranging in age from 16-72, many of whom don’t have their GED or high school diploma.”
Dress for Success works with women who are either unemployed or underemployed. The mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to thrive in work and in life.
Each client receives a suit when she has a job interview and she can return to Dress for Success Lexington for a week’s worth of clothing separates once she lands the job. Clients also have access to a career center, where they receive assistance with resume writing, interview preparation and other essential tools needed to be successful in the workplace. As Analisa explained, beyond providing clothing, Dress for Success Lexington aims to provide two of the most important things a woman needs when entering the job force – confidence and support.
will have two guest judges, Emily Ho, of the popular Authentically Emmie fashion blog, and Sherri Mosley, the new owner of the local women’s fashion boutique, Carl Meyers.
I felt like a superstar and a local celebrity for a few weeks.
“These two women have such a passion for fashion, so having them join our judging team this year is such an exciting addition,” said Candace. “Proceeds from the fashion show benefit Dress for Success Lexington by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools to help women thrive in work and life.”
Each year, Recycle the Runway features two Dress for Success Lexington clients in their annual video and these two clients get to walk the runway. Neshea was the first Lexington client to tell her Dress for Success Lexington story and she was the first client to walk the runway at the very first Recycle the Runway event in 2013, and she returned to walk a subsequent year.
“At the Recycle the Runway fundraiser, I felt like a superstar and a local celebrity for a few weeks,” Neshea said. “My experience with Dress for Success Lexington has been a ‘wow moment’ in my life that words can’t really explain, but if I tried I would say, ‘honored.’ I will forever be grateful to be a part of the organization.”
A donation that empowers
Recently, Dress for Success Lexington worked with a young lady who was fortunate to get out of an abusive situation. As Analisa explained, the client got a job and was suited for a week’s worth of clothing for her new position as a customer service representative.
“This was the client’s first job as she had spent her life being a mom to her amazing kids and taking care of the house,” Analisa said. “To continue to serve women in our community, Dress for Success Lexington is always looking for donations of both time and money, all of which are used locally to benefit clients from many different situations.”
Clothing donations can be made by appointment on Thursdays from 1-4 p.m. Since Dress for Success Lexington provides clothing for both the interview and the job, they are in need of clean, current, new or nearly new clothing, shoes and accessories. Many of the clients are plus-sized, so donations of larger-sized clothing and shoes are always needed.
Four times a year, Dress for Success Lexington has a sale that is open to the public. As Analisa explained, 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale go directly back into programming, like offering one-on-one coaching and lunch and learns for current and past clients, and providing Dress for Success Lexington the opportunity to purchase items such as wide shoes and other specialty items like scrubs for healthcare professionals. Specific donation needs, as well as volunteer opportunities or upcoming sales, can be found on Dress for Success Lexington’s website (https://lexington.dressforsuccess.org) or by calling their office at (859) 231-7848. •