Mel Keatch, hub co-ordinator for Dress for Success. PHOTOS/LISA URBANI

Lisa Urbani

The Masterton branch of ‘Dress for Success’ moved to new premises in Worksop Rd, and hub co-ordinator, Mel Keatch said she has a lot of empathy and compassion for the women they help.

“I have suffered from low self-esteem most of my life and have also been on a Work and Income benefit, as well as working in the corporate world in a government department.

“I had no clue of what I should wear or what my wardrobe should look like and I did not know about ‘Dress for Success’ back then and really wished I had.”

‘Dress for Success’ believes that every woman has the right to be economically self-sufficient and successful, and they aim to empower them, by providing a free service – a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive – both in work and in life.

Visitors perusing the clothes at the new Masterton Dress for Success premises in Worksop Rd.

The Dress for Success organisation has trained stylists who dress the women in appropriate outfits of their choice, thus enhancing their image and confidence and giving them the chance to present themselves in a professional manner, so they have an increased chance to obtain work.

They also offer suitable clothing for house viewings, court appearances, graduations, relatives of the graduates, community re-integration or official events – or any important occasions that will contribute to raising their self-esteem and help boost their self-confidence.

Brazilian immigrant Marina Lira, who moved to Wairarapa last year, found her winter clothing inappropriate for New Zealand weather conditions, having come from a warmer country.

In trying to find work, and attending lots of job interviews, she “wanted to make a good impression”.

She was very grateful to ‘Dress for Success’ for loaning her outfits, which she still has, and she did manage to secure part-time work in Lower Hutt and at Wairarapa Community Networks.

Millie Ogg is also one of their clients, and she too appreciated the opportunity to be styled and given clothes to wear for interviews and other occasions where she could shine in nice outfits.

Working as a commercial cleaner for the past nine years, she would really love the opportunity to move into a reception or customer service role and would need to look the part.

“I wear some of the clothes casually too, they gave me a good mix and match wardrobe, and Mel is really great at what she does,” she said.

‘Dress for Success’ also works in partnership with recruitment agencies and career and life coaches to assist the women with preparing CVs and covering letters and practising interview techniques with them.

Their Women in Work programme helps the women with identifying their transferable skills, career guidance, goal setting, budgeting, money management, how to apply make-up, and communication skills to make a great first impression – all part of the empowerment package they can offer.

A mentoring programme to teach time management and communication styles and work on self-esteem issues, is also available to support them during their journey.

‘Shop for Success’ is a way that the public can get involved by purchasing clothes and contributing to the upliftment of other women.

Leigh Gurney, who has spent 34 years in the air force in military recruitment, knows full well what employers are looking for in terms of presentation.

She likes to volunteer because she says, “the values align with my military background of service to others”.

Having been a volunteer for several organisations, her interest in ‘Dress for Success’ was first piqued by a friend who mentioned it, and then she saw that Jacinda Ardern had donated clothes to the cause, and decided to volunteer.

“I thoroughly enjoy it, because it gives me a sense of achievement in working to help people deal with the challenges they are facing, and do it looking good and feeling confident.”

Keatch said they would be grateful for more volunteers who would like to be involved.

“Clothing maintenance, sorting donations, preparing clothing for the client rack, or training to be a stylist, people who are good at fundraising or planning events, career coaches or people who are able to be mentors, would be very welcome.”