The organisation has been operating in New Zealand for more than 20 years, and provides free interview appropriate clothing, accessories and advice to more than 1200 women each year, many who are looking to enter, or re-enter the workforce, as well as to those who lack suitable clothing for other important events like court appearances and rental property interviews.
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) can refer women to DFS, but many also come to the charity directly, and DFS Board Chair Andrea Hardy says a diverse range of women come through their door.
“They’re generally vulnerable women - long term unemployed, new immigrants, school leavers, those unexpectedly unemployed and many more from a diverse range of social economic groups,” Andrea says.
“You see women come in in their jandals and trackies, and they’re embarrassed about coming in and they don’t know what to expect, but we are here to give them the care, attention and confidence they deserve by giving them what I call our ‘Cinderella Experience’.
“They meet a stylist, who works with them to understand their needs and what clothes they will feel most comfortable and confident in, and then they’ll try on a few different outfits and find some they love.
“Then they move into the shoe section and get to take their pick from our selection and do the same for a handbag and accessories, then move into the makeup section for a wee makeover, learning tips & tricks – and they leave with this big bag of goodies, a huge smile on their face, and confidence they didn’t know they could have.
“When you see them at the end of it, you see a transformation – there’s this beautiful woman who in the past hour and a half has gained so much confidence from the love and care she’s been receiving, and she’s like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon – it’s just such a wonderful feeling to see that.”
‘YOU CAN CHANGE A GENERATION’
Liz Skinner is among the thousands of women who have benefitted from DFS’s help.