Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Dress for success on a budget

Published:Monday | May 9, 2016 | 5:00 AM
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Dressing the part is just as important as making your professional mark in the corporate world. But unfortunately, while many young women strive to look chic and trendy, this ambition is often hindered by budgetary constraints, due to the often high costs associated with career wear.

Dress for Success Jamaica is solving this problem through its boutique which retails clothing for the fashion-conscious corporate woman. Located at the Seymour Park complex in St Andrew, the store's core mission is to provide at low cost professional wear for underprivileged young women who are about to enter the working world.

Opened over a year ago, the boutique retails lightly worn pieces of donated clothing. Dispelling the negative stereotypes surrounding thrift stores, Dress for Success Jamaica provides designer and in vogue contemporary clothes for those who are looking to appease their fashion tastes on a limited budget.

"The items we have on sale are donated pieces. However, they are in exceptional condition, and some have never been worn and still include the tags. We receive outfits from professional women locally and overseas," noted Charmaine Lewis, founder of Dress for Success Jamaica. "Therefore, when persons visit the store they are always in awe."

She pointed out that most persons are not prepared for the ambience of the store; and many presume that they would be looking at dowdy or worn-out clothing. "But our boutique demonstrates that looking good can be extremely affordable. We also have many clients, including those who we had outfitted for interviews or to start new jobs, returning to us to build their work wardrobe because even though they may be restricted financially, they still want to maintain a professional image."

Dress for Success Jamaica is a beneficiary of the JN Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development-funded Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), which resulted in the operators of 10 social enterprises being trained and mentored to lead profitable and sustained businesses.

Lewis told Flair that based on the recommendations coming out of SEBI, the boutique was conceptualised to lead a more profitable and sustainable venture, to support the funding of their social missions.

"When Dress for Success Jamaica started, our primary focus was to provide underprivileged young women with professional attire to enter the workforce.

However, we were constantly faced with the challenge of overhead costs. Therefore, while participating in the SEBI programme, we came up with the concept for this store as a part of the solution, to be able to generate income to finance our core social mission," she explained.

Dress for Success Jamaica also opened its Image Training Centre

recently. The training centre offers professional training to individuals and organisations at a minimum cost.

"We have learnt a lot from the SEBI programme, which emphasised the importance of being accountable, transparent, and self-reliant, so that we can generate our own income to sustain our social mission; and that is what we are doing through our boutique and training centre," Lewis declared.

The boutique currently retails clothing from junior to plus sizes; shoes and accent pieces for the office. With a growing clientele, the store is also welcoming continued donations for additional inventory for the boutique, and to support young women in need of initial attire to enter the workforce.

Take a look at how you can step in style on a budget!

Dress for Success is located at:

Unit 20, Seymour Park,

2 Seymour Avenue,

Telephone: 547-4356