It's a problem faced by women all over the world.
You've been out of work for some time. You want to get back into
the workforce, get a job. 1.
Without the right clothes, you won't make the right impression,
and without a job, you haven't got the money for new clothes. It's
a dilemma that's difficult to solve. Until, that is, Nancy Lublin
arrived on the scene.
Poppy Max, Nancy's great-grandfather, was a penniless
immigrant, sleeping rough under Brooklyn Bridge. Determined to get
on in life, he started making a little money selling second-hand
clothes from a hand-cart. 2.
However, he always remembered the homeless men under the bridge,
and made sure they had adequate clothes.
Poppy Max died in 1996, leaving Nancy some money
in his will. 3. She
set up an organisation for women wanting to make a fresh start,
the core of which is a system whereby working women donate clothes
for unemployed women to wear at interviews.
Dress for Success has already helped thousands
of women in America, Canada and New Zealand, and has just been launched
in the UK. The organisation targets working women, particularly
those in large companies, and asks them to donate suits or other
suitable 'interview clothes'. 4.
The whole idea is to help women feel confident in interviews, and
give that all-important good impression. As Nancy says, "It's
a great way for busy women to contribute to their community. We
encourage offices to set up collection points."
Local agencies send the clients, who are dressed
by smart, enthusiastic volunteers, some of whom have even given
up jobs to do it. A client is given one set of clothes for the interview,
with a handbag and coat if necessary. 5.
Dress for Success is a strictly non-profit making
organisation, relying on volunteers and the good-will of working
women. Other organisations, however, have set up schemes with a
similar aim but completely different approach.
6. It generated a lot of publicity, but
much of it concentrated on the actual clothes the stars gave, rather
than the aims of the project. Newspapers wondered if women would
be turning up to interviews wearing party frocks, and some just
criticised the celebrities' taste in clothes.
Dress for Success, on the other hand, doesn't
target celebrities. "We do get donations from famous people",
says Nancy. " 7.
They just go with all the other clothes. We prefer to concentrate
on the people the clothes are going to."
Nancy hopes to set up more projects around
the world, to help as many women as possible make a new start in
life. Poppy Max would certainly approve.