Dress for Success Cincinnati does a great deal more than its name suggests.
“Many people don’t realize that we offer a range of personal development programs and services beyond suiting,” says Executive Director Lisa Nolan.
After a woman receives an interview outfit and finds a job, she’s eligible to return for 10 additional pieces of workplace attire. In addition, she can use the Dress for Success career center to get one-on-one coaching to gain professional skills, build her resume and build confidence, and join a support network, both while she’s looking for a job and after she’s employed.
“Our mission is empowering women to achieve economic independence, and to help them thrive in work and in life,” says Nolan.
A broad impact
The Dress for Success Cincinnati affiliate is one of the international organization’s oldest, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It serves about 1,000 women annually. Some women are outfitted through a mobile suiting unit—a box truck that travels across 12 counties in Ohio and Kentucky to reach women referred by approximately 100 partner referral agencies.
To ensure it can continue to help all those who seek its assistance, Dress for Success Cincinnati holds a number of fundraisers, the largest and most important of which is a gala fall fashion show that attracts 800 to 900 guests.
“It has a runway show with professional models, but the highlight is the opening when three of our clients walk the runway as models while their stories are told in their own voices,” Nolan says. “It’s very powerful.”
The women who come to the organization face barriers for employment that require individualized attention to prepare them to be job-ready.
“There’s no one profile of what a client looks like.” Nolan says.
A woman may simply have been laid off, but another may be leaving a domestic violence situation, re-entering the workforce following incarceration, recovering from substance abuse, or struggling to maintain employment because of mental health issues.
Other barriers to employment have led Dress for Success Cincinnati to step back and evaluate its current client needs and how it provides support. In addition to job readiness, it is also focusing on financial wellness, teaching skills such as budgeting and planning for college tuition, skills that are taught by volunteers like those from Huntington.
“Huntington has been a great supporter of Dress for Success, from presenting financial wellness programs to sponsoring the fashion show and providing volunteers to help with everyday operations,” Nolan says.
About the organization
Name: Dress for Success Cincinnati
City: Greater Cincinnati, North Kentucky
Phone: (513) 651-3372
Mission: To empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help them thrive in work and in life
How you can help
To give money, volunteer or donate clothes, visit dfscincy.org/support-get-involved.