Monday, December 2, 2013

Fashion Designers Send Powerful Message to Community

by Maniko Barthelemy

Bold, beautiful, and brave women in trendy fashions sashayed through the courtyard at Hotel Storyville in New Orleans, highlighting the importance of a non-profit organization committed to helping women find jobs.  “I’m all for a Dress for Success event because I support anything that helps women feel beautiful and encourages them to feel comfortable and confident,” said Daniela Zapata, owner of Full Blossom Chic,
Hotel Storyville and “The Little Black Dress” organization sponsored a “Garden Party Fashion Show” Nov. 24. to raise awareness and reemphasize the importance of Dress for Success. Dress for Success is an international non-profit organization that provides career counseling and professional attire to help women entering or re-entering the workforce.
In Louisiana, where nearly 150,000 people are reportedly unemployed, having help from organizations like Dress for Success is exactly why people like Tileda Dunn, didn’t think twice about volunteering as a model. “I just went on an interview a few weeks ago and got the job,” said Dunn.
Dunn returned to the work force after spending five years as a stay-at-home mother. She was one of a dozen models showcasing unique and fabulous fashions by flagship retailers, independent designers, and boutiques reflective of the season, but Dunn was also a stunning symbol of victory over adversity. “I don’t think I would have gotten the job without the help of Dress for Success because I didn’t have the proper clothes and couldn’t even borrow clothes from my friends because none of them are my size so I wouldn’t have been confident when I went on that interview,” said Dunn.

Through partnerships with other non-profits, candidates are referred to Dress for Success. “Most of our clients come to us with issues and are ready to go back to work and become independent,” said Midge Donald, executive director of the New Orleans chapter of “Dress for Success.”
In addition to raising awareness and highlighting success stories, organizers wanted to encourage more people to volunteer. Drew Douglas, a retired media professional was ready to sign up. “This was inspiring, positive and motivating,” said Douglas. He plans to volunteer as a resume writing consultant clients.
Since 1998, with the help of people like Douglas, hundreds of women like Dunn have walked through the doors of Dress for Success for help. Often, they leave with hope and a renewed sense of pride.
Nearly 50  people, a combination of residents and small business owners, attended the party with a purpose at Hotel Storyvile. For information on how to volunteer or donate your gently used suits to Dress for Success, you can attend the Dec. 5 party at Chico's, 5605 Magazine St., from noon until 5 p.m., call (504) 891-4337, or log on to
To find your local Dress for Success chapter, visit
What do you think about organizations like Dress for Success? We invite you to comment at You can remain anonymous.

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