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GIVING BACK - Dress for Success

Join Eclipse in Giving Back this Season! We spoke with Lesley Brillhart, the Director of Dress for Success - World Wide West about the program, the success stories & how we can make a change in the lives of many women. 

Q: What made you begin with Dress for Success? 

LB: Generally speaking, it is much harder for women to find jobs than it is for men. When women do find jobs, they face gender-specific challenges preventing their personal and professional advancement. ​Socioeconomic status exacerbates these obstacles, leaving them vulnerable &struggling to access the support, network and learning opportunities necessary to navigate the world of work.

I was really looking to direct my energy into supporting women, and Dress for Success focused on helping women achieve economic independence. As I was introduced to the organization, I realized their network was so diverse and that I would have the opportunity to connect with and learn from so many women in LA from varying walks of life. I liked that my work would help many access their own potential to get what they truly desired.  

Q: How does Dress for Success impact women?

LB: Particularly right now, the effect COVID-19 has had in our community is devastating. Women, and particularly women of color, are experiencing record-high layoffs, furloughs and job eliminations. Most of these women are coming from the service industries and small businesses where we know it’s possible these jobs won’t return. Of all women in the US, 22% have had to make the difficult choice to leave the workforce to manage their household. Dress for Success the only free global employment resource for women. We keep them moving forward with relevant and timely training sessions, integration into a diverse professional network, career coaching, access to professional attire and more. This year we were able to continue our services at full steam, pivoting to virtual one-on-one career coaching, weekly virtual workshops, and virtual styling for zoom and remote work.

Women who join our community celebrate successes after participating in our programs! Locally, Dress for Success has served over 15,000individuals in Los Angeles (Dress for Success has served 1.2M+ globally). Six in ten women who participate in programming for job seekers secure a job, internship or an entrepreneurial opportunity upon completion. Over 94% of women who complete our signature Financial Education program report an increase in their personal and emergency savings.

For me, Dress for Success’ primary outcome is the community that comes from joining a network of support. Our approach democratizes women's networking so that ALL women can access evidence-based content and approaches that lead to career milestones: getting hired, getting promoted, getting a raise, and increasing financial knowledge.  

Q: What is your favorite Dress for Success memory?

LB: My favorite memory to date is seeing the transformation of LeAndre, a woman I am honored to have met a few years ago when she entered our programs. LeAndre came to us after facing a divorce where her primary job for years had been caring for her son and family. She had already experienced months of an unsuccessful job search when she entered one of our job readiness programs geared toward strengthening and building your resume, interview training and how to use job search engines and tools. We had the opportunity to partner with a local corporation to host mock interviews and LeAndre jumped at this chance to practice what she had learned. I remember her mentioning that the positive encouragement from this practice interview felt so validating and that she didn’t feel alone in her search process. Literally the next day LeAndre aced a job interview and was hired on the spot! From the confidence she gained that week, LeAndre went on to complete every program Dress for Success offered, including a leadership training and a grant to build and develop a local community resource. What was beautiful was that LeAndre got to surprise the mock interview coach who sparked it all and share this story of transformation from the stage at one of our annual galas. It brought tears to all of our eyes! LeAndre’s story, to me, is the perfect example of how investing just a few minutes, a few resources, a few dollars, in one woman can create this ripple effect of transformation and inspire layers of change in the community.

Q: How can the Eclipse community get involved and help women? 

LB: If you can support us with a donation, every dollar counts! Monetary donations help us cover the costs for our programming and maintain our full steam ahead approach to help women move forward through these challenging times.

Whether you are a job seeker or professional, I encourage you to participate in our free programs! In addition to our network of support, we offer 1-1 career coaching, weekly workshops, and virtual styling services.

 

Please note, at this time, Dress for Success is not doing many calls for volunteers as their virtual programs have eliminated a lot of need. There are many other ways to get involved on their website.


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