People who spend their time in service to others often report an increased sense of self-worth, happiness, and well-being. And now, it appears that research is starting to back up that up (Santi, 2015). At 2Human Strategies, the idea of working together in a service capacity is a priniciple that we hold dear. We seek out and welcome the opportunity to partner with companies and organizations within our community whose values are in close alignment with our own.
One such opportunity that has recently presented itself is the chance to work with the local chapter of Dress for Success (DFS), located in downtown Seattle. For those not familiar with this wonderful non-profit, DFS offers “long-lasting solutions that enable women to break the cycle of poverty.” It is “part of a global movement for change, empowering women to obtain safer and better futures.”
While I was no stranger to the organization (which has chapters worldwide), I truly had no idea how the whole process worked until I took our intern Claira and visited our local chapter. Temporarily housed in the basement of the YWCA building downtown, the space offers a veritable cornucopia of textile delights in the form of high-quality, stylish, boutique style clothing, all perfectly organized and ready to be put together into outfits. Alongside the racks of clothing are a dizzying array of brand new make-up, hair supplies, and other necessary beauty products. And shoes. And scarves. And handbags. All beautiful, all in excellent condition, and all ready to help make a woman feel her professional best.
Which is, of course, the entire point. As Catherine, our Seattle chapter liaison pointed out on our visit, the clients that come to Dress for Success have, for one reason or another, fallen on difficult times. Whether living on the streets, fleeing an abusive relationship, or simply finding herself the latest victim of the recent economic downturn, the women that are referred to DFS have lost their jobs, and, more importantly, at least a little dignity. Which is why the vision of the organization goes far beyond simply providing clothing and instead seeks to reaffirm the client’s sense of self with the hope of furnishing women with "a confidence that she carries forever and the knowledge that she can actively define her life, the direction she takes and what success means to her.”
Walking through the area, we could really sense how much thought is put into this idea of success. Not content with an average thrift store aesthetic, the staff has created a space with both the look and feel of a stylish boutique, complete with three-way mirrors, comfy chairs, and fashion magazines for inspirational content. This is where a client comes to consult with her own personal shopper, be fitted with an interview outfit that reflects her own personal style, receive a make-over if she chooses, and, in essence, be given back, well, herself.
Should the employment interview go well and the client finds herself with a new job, her relationship with DFS is not over yet. At that point, she will come back to the shop and pick out a few more outfits to get her through until she has established herself financially. And after that there are myriad opportunities for her to stay involved through programs designed to foster job retention and further her professional skills.
This last benefit offered by DFS is, perhaps, its greatest gift of all. It has been observed that, “compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities” and that success is often correlated "just as closely with competence" as it is with confidence (Katty & Shipman, 2014). In other words, confidence equals job success!
Factor in time out of work, homelessness, the emotional fall-out from a recent move or relationship issues, or any of the other issues these women have faced, and it’s a safe bet that their confidence has taken a pretty big hit. Knowing that DFS is there to provide tools to boost both their confidence and their competence gives them something solid to fall back on in an otherwise shaky time.
After spending quality time with the staff at our local DFS (and also partaking in their fabulous quarterly boutique sale...Prada anyone??), 2Human Strategies is excited to share both our support as well as some of our profits to benefit this amazing organization. To that end, we will offer two tiers of tickets to our upcoming Women’s Workshop Series. The higher priced ticket ($50) will enable us to donate $20 per ticket to DFS and its ongoing efforts to continue empowering women in the Seattle area. We are thrilled to be partnering with Dress for Success, and look forward to future opportunities to serve them as they are serving others.
Santi, J. (2015). The Secret to Happiness is Helping Others. TIME Magazine [on-line periodical]. Retrieved from http://time.com/4070299/secret-to-happiness.
Katty, K. and Shipman, C. (2014). The Confidence Gap. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815.