The “Dresses for Dreams Project” was a seed planted in 2007 at the same time that Catherine Bowen started Dress Sense. There is an American organization named Dress for Success Worldwide which is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women (www.dressforsuccess.com). The work they do is pretty inspiring and we’ve borrowed from this to support female empowerment and community development in South Africa.
As a personal stylist it’s frustrating to see old clothes from clients’ wardrobes being aimlessly donated to charity, particularly when there’s an opportunity to match suitable clothing (office wear) to women who don’t have the financial resources to dress for the corporate environment.
Dresses for Dreams collects second-hand clothing via Dress Sense and then arranges workshops and sales via the Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development at Graduate School of Business. Dress Sense stylists give free training and advice to women from the Academy with the intention of reaching young women who will become tomorrow’s leaders. Training and guidance is the form of a 5 hour workshop (combined with a clothing sale) covers the following areas of personal style:
1) How to define appropriate personal style
2) Body Type & Fabrication
3) Vertical & Horizontal Proportions
5) Colour Pattern
At the end of the workshop, ladies are encouraged to purchase garments from the collected clothing, based on their new knowledge and understanding of personal style. Monies raised from the sale are then donated to the Women for Women Organization (www.womenforwomen.org).