Changing Lives One Dress At A Time
We wanted to make our love for fashion meaningful for people on a long term basis. The program, Changing Lives One Dress At A Time, is meant to be more hands on and efficient than a charity. We carefully choose candidates that need help, guide them and help them. 10% of each dress goes to the program.
How does it work ? We are still a small business, so based on sales projections, we look at all the candidates and choose the ones we will be able to help. We contact them, talk about their personal information such as education level, family situation, skills and so on. We then create a plan to create the opportunity, and we help them along the way.
It might be easier to understand if we use a real example. Linda was 24 when we met her. She had been married for 3 years. She had a 2 year old child. She was religious and shy. She was never a party girl. She only had church friends. She only dated the man she married. She never drank or used drugs. She dreamed to marry her prince and being a virgin when she got married was really important for her since it was a sign of her commitment to God. She met her prince at church.
He turned out to be a bad person. He left her when their baby was born because the baby was dark skinned. Linda comes from a German background, so she has white skin and light hair even though one of her grandparents on her mom's side had dark skin. Her husband was of African descent and had dark skin, and the baby looked like him in every aspect including the skin tone. She though he would love the baby for looking so much like him, but he hated her. He never sent any child support to his little girl. He never shared anything about her on social media. It is like she did not exist.
Linda finished high school even though she grew up in a very unstable home where she grew up watching her mom be physically abused. They were also very poor. Some days they did not have food. When we started with the program, we heard about her when we were volunteering for a local church.
We arranged to meet her, and we talked about her life, her hopes, skills, dreams. We then realized she would be a great nurse. Given her life situation, we knew she needed something practical and fast results, so we helped her enroll in a CNA program. Certified Nurse Assistants make between $10 and $19 / hour, and the program can be completed in 4-12 weeks. If she got her life back together as a CNA, she could decide later on to keep going and become a RN.
We enrolled her. We got a lawyer to enforce the child support payments, so she would not have to worry about providing for her child. At the time, Linda was living with her grandmother who help us track her progress and make sure Linda stayed focused. She finished her training. She became a CNA. She gained her independence, and gain confidence on herself for the first time in her life.
It took 9 dresses to finance a life change. Can you imagine how much more special those brides felt knowing that their decision to get married and wear a wedding dress, something completely normal, ended up changing someone's life forever. Brides can choose if they want to receive updates, so during the stressful process of planning their weddings, those brides had updates that reminded them of how happy their wedding planning was making someone else.
It made us all feel very happy as well. One of the most amazing experiences in life is to look in someone's eye and see how grateful that strangers cares about them.
We don't usually share pictures online unless the person we helped allow us, but we do share them with the brides. We also let them connect directly with the bride if they wish. Since so far we have helped candidates between the ages of 12 - 24, they do not want us to post their pictures on social media and make people aware of their past. We totally respect that as we know that mentally it can he hard to deal and forget the past when you are being constantly reminded of it. Hopefully, soon we will run into a candidate who is not as shy. We believe sharing their pictures would allow the cause to be more known, and we would be able to help more people.