Last week, Awesome Kingston awarded their March grant to Dress for Success Kingston, who plan to add more support for their clientele through a new program called Styles Snap. The program will provide Polaroid images of the women in their new outfits — procured through Dress for Success — in order to allow them to recreate the style at home. The $1,000 micro-grant supports local projects the Awesome Kingston trustees think will help keep Kingston awesome.
Dress for Success Kingston provides support, guidance, and mentorship to women in need in Kingston and surrounding communities. Their number one focus is to assist women in choosing and styling themselves for interviews and employment at no cost, according to the organization.
Clients visit the boutique and are provided with a personal one-to-one suiting appointment, which will result in two to three perfect outfits to suit their specific needs. Dress for Success (DFS) Kingston works with over 30 local agencies to support women who are entering, or making moves in, the workforce.
“At Dress for Success Kingston, we have seen the impact that COVID-19 has had on the women in our community,” said Hanna Kitchingman, Executive Director at DFS Kingston. “At the beginning of the pandemic, many individuals lost jobs, or had reduced hours at their jobs, which had a major impact on their ability to support themselves and their families. We have also seen an increase in the cost of basic needs, including housing, food, and transportation.”
The money from Awesome Kingston will help DFS Kingston provide another layer of support to their clientele, by providing non-digital images of their outfits in order to help women recreate them at home, and maintain the confidence they found when they first saw their complete look.
According to Kitchingman, in the past, clients have been hesitant to take their new look home, recognizing that they may not be able to recreate the outfit without further support.
“Having the Polaroid camera would allow clients to feel more comfortable that their photos will not be shared or saved,” she said. “They would also have the ability to take the pictures home at the end of their appointment for their own personal reference for matching and styling their outfits. Finally, not all women have access to a working cell phone with a camera, and this would remove the barrier of technology some face.”
Kitchingman noted that all clients are welcome at DFS Kingston. “We offer services to women and youth as young as 13 and, to date, our oldest client has been 69,” she shared. “Our clients are often women that are experiencing barriers to employment, education and life in general. We serve a wide demographic of individuals that includes low-income households, members of the LGBTQ2+ community, students, minorities, and recent immigrants, to single mothers struggling to provide for their basic needs.”
DFS Kingston has two full-time staff members, and runs through the generous support of volunteers and community donations. Kitchingman noted that the staff and volunteers do this because they have a passion for helping women and seeing women overcome barriers and have success.
“The cycle of poverty has had a major impact on the women in our community of all ages, demographics, and social-economic status,” she continued. “As women, we often put our best foot forward and do not let the people around us know the struggles we are facing on a daily basis when it comes to providing for our basic needs. At Dress for Success Kingston, we help any and all women that need our services, as we cannot always understand the struggles individuals have encountered.”
Learn more about Dress for Success Kingston on their website.