Dress for Success Worldwide was founded in 1997 by Nancy Lublin, a young law student from New York, who inherited $5,000 and decided to use the money to improve the lives of poor women. With the help of two nuns from Spanish Harlem, she realized that a significant barrier to disadvantaged women overcoming poverty was not having appropriate attire to be taken seriously at job interviews, which resulted in continued unemployment and hardship.
In 1998, friends Karen Fishel and Barbara Attridge were inspired by an article about Dress for Success in People Magazine, and founded Dress for Success Oregon (DFSO) with a commitment to helping women become self-sufficient. In its first year, DFSO served 15 clients a month in a 900 square foot office. Currently, more than 170 agencies in Oregon and Southwest Washington refer over 2,200 clients a year to DFSO. While DFSO is known as a place to get clothing for job interviews, its main objective remains helping disadvantaged women obtain self-sufficiency through job recruitment, career development, financial stability, educational opportunities, personal growth, mentoring, job retention skills, and support groups.
Each spring, DFSO holds its largest fundraising event of the year, Celebrate Success. Celebrate Success is currently in its twelfth year, and in its inception, the event consisted of a luncheon and fashion show for 200 guests. In 2005, the event was reconceptualized and moved to the evening. The fashion show was reimagined, and instead of continuing to use professional models to walk the runway, DFSO began using a mixture of its clients and inspirational and successful women from the community. The event has grown over the years, and last year boasted a sellout crowd of over 500 business and community leaders. The event is fashionable and fun, but perhaps DFSO Executive Director and Co-Founder Barbara Attridge describes it the best as a time of “women honoring women in their successes.”
This blog is updated by the Celebrate Success Committee and is your source for all the latest news about the upcoming event! Find out which Portland women leaders we will be honoring this year, the success stories of our clients and more!