‘Dress for Success’ advocates for women of West Virginia with new location in Charleston

By Brooke DeVolld, for RealWV

Dress for Success is closing in on the one-year anniversary of its store opening in the Charleston area. Here’s what you should know:

What is Dress for Success?

This nonprofit organization has a mission to help unemployed and underemployed women achieve independence. For them, the first step was to make sure these women had access to professional attire when looking for jobs. 

The store offers appointments for women, so they can go spend time picking out clothes that make them feel confident. Next, Dress for Success provides a network of people all over the world that may be able to help them access new career opportunities. 

Lastly, Dress for Success makes sure that women have development tools that help them reshape their futures. The organization believes that having a community who helps build success is crucial to changing the economic world for women. 

In a world where gender inequality in the workplace has taken a toll on so many people’s lives, this transformation helps women tremendously. By addressing their needs, Dress for Success hopes to increase the options and compensation for hard-working women everywhere. 

Jessica Hudson, the executive director of Dress for Success, is very passionate about the impact she hopes to make throughout the state. 

“For every one woman we help out of poverty, there are five people impacted by their economic stability, whether this be children, family members, or spouses”, said Hudson. 

When asked about the clients she has helped, Hudson is clear on her favorite part of the job. 

“Seeing the difference that support and professional clothing can make to these women, and how they become more confident throughout the process, is priceless”, said Hudson. 

Dress for success hopes to grow its clientele, no matter the past barriers to employment. The organization also intends to grow its relationship with college students, and is planning to open a branch “campus closet” at University of Charleston. 

The organization relies heavily on donations of clothing and funds so its impact can be reached by many people.

 Wendy McCuskey, owner of a local boutique in Charleston called Geraniums, has helped Dress for Success in its donation efforts. The two stores became connected when Hudson reached out to see if there were extra resources that could be allocated. 

“Jessica reached out to me with the proposal to be involved with Dress for Success and explained how it would help women help themselves. I knew these donations would impact so many people, so it was an easy decision”, said McCuskey. “Dress for success is about more than finding a nice outfit. It’s about more than clothes. It helps women gain confidence back and takes away barriers for its clients.”

When asked to describe Dress for Success in three words, McCuskey chose “respect, opportunity, and positivity” and explained that much of this can be attributed to the way that people are cared for when they go to the store. 

“Jessica calls every woman who comes to dress for success a ‘client,'” McCuskey added. “To me, this says a lot about her character and how she treats people. Each person, no matter their personal experience, is seen by Jess.”

Jessie Perez, a client of Dress for Success, is one of those people whose life was changed by the organization.

Perez was a client at recovery point Charleston in March 2023, when she became familiar with Dress for Success. At that time, she did not know that resources like this were available. 

“Before I learned about Dress for Success, I only had 22 articles of clothing, none of which were appropriate for interviews. Coming out of prison, I had no help until I met Jessica”, said Perez. “Immediately after meeting Jessica, she tried to help me in any way she could. My first time visiting the store, she had a setup of clothes ready when I got there that made me feel so confident and ready for interviews.”

Perez went on to get the job she interviewed for, which she has flourished at, and her family is transitioning back into her life. She describes her experience with Dress for Success as loving and accepting. 

“Not everyone comes from support, and it is vital to have this when transitioning and trying to change your life.”, said Perez. 

To donate to Dress for Success in an effort to help women change their lives, reach out to Jessica Hudson at execdir@dressforcuccessrivercities.org, or click the link below https://rivercities.dressforsuccess.org/get-involved/donate/.

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