Since 2006, Dress for Success Denver has transformed the lives of more than 16,000 at-risk women by providing them with job readiness tools, professional attire and post-employment support to assist them in their efforts to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Every year, Dress For Success Denver holds its Fall Fashion and Music Event to honor Denverites that have impacted the organization, champion the outstanding women who participate in the program and raise money for the organization. This year, the event was held on October 11 at the Infinity Park Events Center in Glendale and featured live and silent auctions, music by Denver DJ Bella Scratch and a fashion show featuring clothing from local boutiques (Scout & Molly, Salwa Owens, Wish Boutique, Tom James Company, Fabulous Dresses By Soledad, Etta Jane Jewelry and Perch), as real women currently in the Dress for Success program strutted their stuff down the runway.
The event could be summed up in one word: hopeful. From the friendly conversations between guests, to the warm hugs and heartstring-tugging stories told by the incredible women of Dress for Success Denver, guests enjoyed the festivities and opened their wallets, all for a very worthy cause.
Dress for Success Executive Director, Amara Martin, has been a part of the organization for 12 years and is a force to be reckoned with. She is passionate about what she does and it was evident the night of the event as she was speaking to the crowd. “My vision for Dress for Success Denver is a community where women do not live in poverty but have the resources, support and network to thrive in work and in life. Every woman has the right to achieve financial independence and self-defined success,” Martin explained. Her love for Dress for Success is just as evident in her responses below.
303 Magazine: Tell us about Dress for Success Denver. What does the organization do?
Amara Martin: The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. DFS Denver has five signature programs: Professional Suiting, Career Center Coaching, Going Places Network (job readiness coaching), Pathways to Education and Professional Women’s Group (job retention skills).
Our programs help our clients become employed, stay employed, achieve promotions and raises, participate in valuable networking and leadership opportunities, strengthen financial literacy and embrace life-long learning as they move towards economic independence.
303: If someone wasn’t able to attend the Fall Fashion and Music Event on Friday, what are a few other ways people can get involved?
AM: Dress for Success Denver inspires confidence, courage and belief in women. We need your help to empower our clients by volunteering in our clothing boutique and career center programs, donating ‘nearly- new’ professional clothing, shoes and accessories or making a financial contribution to our programs. Anyone interested can visit the ‘Donate’ section of our website.
303: What milestones or statistics would you like to share, specifically about what Dress for Success has achieved here in Denver?
AM: 72% of the women participating in our programs get and keep a job for one year or more. DFS Denver ambassador, Imane Benjelloun, recently won the International CAP (Community Action Project) competition. She created a community group called “Sisterhood in the Neighborhood.” Also, DFS Denver Ambassador, Soung Nyugen, won an AXA scholarship through Dress for Success Worldwide.
303: What about Denver inspires you?
AM: Denver is an incredibly supportive community. As a Denver native, I have seen many changes around this city but the people are still wonderful. It is because of the Denver donors that we have been able to serve 16,000 women and it will be Denver who continues to support us as we grow. We need everyone to join our community of supporters and make an investment into our programs, services and the brave women that walk through our doors.
303: What do you want people to know about Dress for Success Denver?
AM: When a woman comes into DFS Denver, she starts to see her future and believe it. She steps outside of her comfort zone and tackles her fears of success. It’s amazing to see the drive and determination of the women we serve. We help anyone who gender identifies as a woman. Whether they are working full time but homeless, have great jobs but are living in domestic violence shelters because they fled from abusive relationships, may be struggling with addictions or convictions. Dress for Success is for every woman.
We promote this community amongst women presently living in poverty, with the goal of providing the necessary tools to move into financial independence. Our unique approach of targeting this population through peer support has created a large network of women determined to achieve self-defined success. Women learn to trust and support each other through friendship, mentorship, parental guidance, confidants, cheerleaders and even a shoulder to cry on.
All photography courtesy of Rocky Mountain Photography.