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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Clean Closets and Inspiration

These past few months have taught me a lot about myself and the cloth I am made of. I have always enjoyed being a part of something that helps others. In recent months I have hitched my wagon and styling talents to the organization Dress for Success.

Dress for Success Triangle, founded in 2008, promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women succeed in work and in life. The founder of the Triangle chapter is Pat Nathan, a delightful and extremely articulate beautiful woman who I met about six or years ago. She purchased a certificate that I had donated to another organization for a closet consult at a fundraiser. As we talked during her consult, she shared that she had just begun developing Dress for Success in Durham, at the lower level office space of Northgate Mall. She saw a need and felt as though with her business background and ties to the community she could help women who needed it. Turns out that she, along with many volunteers, have made a difference in many lives - the women she helps and their families.

In chatting with her through the years, I always offered to help in whatever capacity was needed. Recently, she's been taking me up on my offer, and I am motivated and inspired by the women she helps. Last month I worked with three women from various backgrounds and selected a work appropriate outfit, a wardrobe basic and lastly, clothing that made them feel good. Not a tough challenge after hearing each of their stories of wanting more for themselves and their children. Whatever difficult, sad or tragic background they may have had, they were all eager to move forward to a better life and place.

After spending time with the women and dressing them with outfits given to them by Dress for Success, we prepared for the event at a board member's home the following week. The purpose of the evening was to gather a group of working and non-working women and offer them a glimpse of what Dress for Success was all about. The group of 25 gathered and then Pat made the introductions to talk about what Dress for Success does. I then proceeded to interview the three women to share their stories, hopes and future dreams. I have to say it was one of the most moving evenings I have had in a long time. I also brought fall fashions attendees should add to their closet while encouraging the guests to do their own closet clean out and to donate pants, shirts, dresses, jackets, coats, shoes and accessories they no longer wore or need to Dress for Success.

Last week I had an opportunity to be a part of a member-guest event at Treybourn Country Club in Durham doing something very similar for Dress for Success. I again talked about fall fashions, but how to do that fall closet clean out and what to donate. I met the new Marketing Director of Northgate Mall and I spoke to her about starting one of the first personal shopping programs at that mall in November of 1994. The mall offered my shopping services for anyone spending $100 or more. I remember it being a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity to get to know the Durham community. Being based out of Raleigh, I just didn't get to Durham as much as I may have wanted to. I can't say that holds true now. I spend a lot of time at Smitten Boutique shopping for clients. So many things in our lives come full circle. Reconnecting with Northgate Mall and my continued work with Dress for Success keeps me so true to myself and my values. It is working and helping others that is so gratifying! I hope you all will either call me or begin your own closet consult and donate your clothing to a worthy program in our area. I promise the feeling is contagious and will only make your morning lifestyle dressing that much easier. Call if I can help, as fall is finally here.

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