Dress for Success offers coaching and support to empower women in work and life. Its Cincinnati location, now based out of Norwood, provides women with a network, workplace attire and career development tools. Dress for Success has worked with over 19,000 women and is the only life-long program in the Greater Cincinnati area focused specifically on the needs of women.
Lisa Nolan, a former litigator, has served as executive director for the Cincinnati affiliate since 2017. Lisa made a career switch when she realized that she wanted to work for an organization that focused specifically on women or children.
“I firmly believe that helping a woman reach financial independence and economic self-sufficiency, also helps her pass those lessons and opportunities on to her children and ultimately gives back to the community,” explains Lisa.
In addition to the onsite location in Norwood, clients are also served via their mobile career transformation center. This is a branded box truck that takes their styling services on the road to different counties. They are also working with The Care Center in Loveland and hope to open a satellite location to increase access to the northern suburbs of Cincinnati in the near future.
There are many ways to support Dress for Success, including volunteering and financial donations. The easiest way to support them, however, is to donate professional women’s clothing, accessories, handbags or scrubs. From these donations, selections are given to their clients for interview or employment attire. The remaining items are sent to Portaluca.
Portaluca is a public resale boutique located at 4623 Wesley Ave, with all proceeds coming back to financially support Dress for Success of Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the only national affiliate location that operates a year-round boutique. Portaluca has contributed more than $500,000 back to Dress for Success Cincinnati since opening in 2002.
They are also currently in the final stage of the TransformHER campaign, their first-ever funding campaign. It was put into motion when they relocated to Norwood after being forced to leave their downtown location three years prior to the expiration of the lease.
“It certainly was not something that we would’ve asked to deal with amidst the pandemic,” Lisa shares, “but with that being said, it was a blessing in disguise. We now have this beautiful new space built specifically to meet our needs.”
Their new location in Norwood is a more central location and has free parking.
“The fact that a woman can come and park at the building for free is huge, compared to when we were downtown and women had to worry about where they were going to park,” Lisa elaborates.
Their biggest fundraising event is the annual fashion show. The 2021 show, being held on September 21st at the Hard Rock Casino, marks the 20th anniversary of the event, and features honorees Crystal Faulkner and Cincinnati Council member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney.
The show also includes clients of Dress for Success who walk the runway while their stories are told. Fall fashion designs are also highlighted by professional models. Tickets are on sale for the event on the Dress for Success Cincinnati website.
Lisa stresses that Dress for Success offers far more than a free outfit to women:
“So many people think only about the clothing aspect when they hear Dress for Success, but I’d like to make it clear that we have a full spectrum of personal development training and ongoing career support. It’s not just about the clothes, it’s about helping women gain and sustain employment to reach levels of economic self-sufficiency.”
Support Dress for Success
-Donate: All clothing donations are received at their Norwood location, open for drop off from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For more information on what to donate, visit: DFSCincy.org/Donate
-Attend: Buy tickets to the annual fashion show luncheon featuring clients and models in the latest fall fashions, prizes and awards presentations. DFSCincy.org/fashionshow
-Shop: Browse designer fashions at the Dress for Success boutique store, open to the public! Portaluca.org
-Volunteer: Volunteer time as a personal stylist or career coach or help sort clothing donations, visit: DFSCincy.org/Volunteer
Dress for Success is a global nonprofit organization based out of New York City with 125 affiliates in 30 countries. Cincinnati is home to one of the oldest and largest affiliate locations.