It only takes a few seconds to make a first impression in a job interview, and looking the part is half the battle.
But for some people, purchasing even one professional outfit can be financially ruinous as they work to rebuild their lives after a divorce, job loss or long-term medical problem.
Enter Wear 2 Start, a non-profit organization that helps women dress their best for that all-important job interview or first few days on the job. The society provides suitable clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as other essential services like haircuts, makeup and alternations to women re-entering the work force.
“So many women come in, their shoulders are slumped, there’s no eye contact. But by the time they leave, we’re all laughing like friends,” says Diane Carpenter, Wear 2 Start community liaison. “We get a mix of women who have a very high level of education. We get entrepreneurs who have fallen on hard times, students, single moms. Women from all walks of life.”
Clients are referred by agencies that provide job training, skills development and job re-entry services for women of all ages and backgrounds including GT Hiring Solutions. Wear 2 Start relies on donations and fundraising for all its services, as well as a stable commitment from about 15 volunteers plus seven board members.
Karen Zanetti, owner of SomeThing More clothing store at Mattick’s Farm Shopping Centre in Cordova Bay, donates much-needed plus-size clothing to Wear2Start. Now, Zanetti is putting out the call to her clients and anyone else for gently used clothing, which can be dropped off at her store or at Wear 2 Start’s downtown location at 216-733 Johnson St.
“When I lived in Yukon, we had a similar program up there where we trained women up and got them jobs,” Zanetti said. “At that time, I didn’t have a clothing store, so I used to go around the local stores to find clothes for these people. So when i got my own store, I wanted to make that a permanent part of my business.”
Cash donations can also be made online at canadahelps.org, or cheques can be made out to “Wear 2 Start Society” and dropped off or mailed to Wear 2 Start, 216-733 Johnson St., V8W 3C7.
Specifically, the organization needs new or gently worn, clean clothing suitable for interviews or work with a focus on much needed sizes 2-6 and 18-24; purses and shoes in neutral colours appropriate to the workplace; accessories; and new makeup and toiletries.
Wear 2 Start’s hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday.