As part of our new focus on eco-friendly organizing, we have been partnering with local non-profits who accept donations in support of their mission. We have enjoyed learning about these wonderful organizations and the work they are doing to improve our communities. For our most recent volunteer community organizing day, Abundance Organizing had the great pleasure of working with Dress for Success!
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Dress for Success is a national nonprofit organization that offers important services for women including suiting for job interviews, wardrobe assistance for new jobs, and a Career Center which provides coaching and community support. The mission of Dress for Success is “…to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life”. If you are interested in supporting this amazing organization, read more here about accepted donations.
The Richmond branch of Dress for Success recently relocated their operations to a new location. While the space looks larger than their previous place, it is actually 300 ft smaller! Shantell Chambliss, the founder and executive director of the company, admitted to being stressed by the perceived lack of room with which to work. In her words, “It felt like we outgrew the place even though we had just signed a 3-year lease.” Shantell genuinely wondered if they could actually make the space work. Storage space was minimal. When shipments would come, they were placed on a shelf in the back because there was nowhere to unpack anything. The jewelry was being stored in the hall, handbags were still in plastic totes, and the atmosphere lacked the feel of a luxury boutique.
At Dress for Success offices, a designated Boutique is where the magic happens, where clients try on and select their professional attire. The look and feel of the Boutique feeds into the mission of Dress for Success. The goal is to make clients feel pampered and for them to be able to have the experience that they would have at a luxury boutique. However, as opposed to a traditional boutique, Dress for Success has the challenge of operating with donated materials; this can mean there is no designated rhyme or reason to the color and style themes in the Boutique area.
PLANNING FOR THE JOB
Shantell Chambliss and Mindy Godding, Owner of Abundance Organizing and Certified Professional Organizer, had lost touch since the last time that Abundance had worked with Dress for Success. But as destiny would have it, Shantell and Mindy ran into each other shortly after Dress for Success’s relocation. Shantell told Mindy about how they needed help with the layout and style of the boutique so that it felt like the luxury experience they desired for all their clients. Although it had been some time since their last time working together, it didn’t take long for Mindy to jump on the opportunity to volunteer our services!
Mindy went out to the new Dress for Success office space and did a walkthrough, eventually coming back to take more measurements. “The walkthrough was unique”, Mindy said, “because we were able to work with a completely blank canvas at this new location”. Mindy saw that there were just rolling racks of clothes, but no way to actually display the clothes or the accessories. Shantell gave Mindy a list of what she hoped this space could accomplish, and Mindy came up with a plan …articulately documented with a floor plan.
ORGANIZING FOR SUCCESS
It was decided that Abundance Organizing would take on this project with nearly our entire team on our volunteer organizing day! As Mindy says, “We love complex projects like this, because we have the women power to simultaneously make all the projects happen”. With this many volunteers, we were able to divide and conquer the work as four different sub-projects:
(1) OFFICE SUPPLY AREA:
We had one team that worked on the Office Supply Area, organizing the supply cabinet and helping the office get ready to usher in their own coffee bar.
(2) BACK OF HOUSE DONATION CENTER:
A second team worked in the Back of House Donation Center, organizing the area where Dress for Success receives donations, finding the space to create storage, and making sure that all items for processing donations had a home.
A third team focused on accessories, including shoes, handbags, belts, and jewelry. We laugh about it, but in all seriousness dealing with jewelry can become chaotic. One of the questions Mindy always asks when organizing jewelry is, “How do we display all the pieces yet minimize some of the chaos?” In this space, we opted for drawers with dividers so that items could be grouped by metal tone and then hidden when not on display.
A fourth team worked on organizing the clothing into the newly installed Elfa Closet. The Elfa Closet from The Container Store was the absolute perfect fit for this space! This product allows you to create storage where there was previously nothing, or upgrading the function in a space by putting it in a storage solution. Abundance Organizing is very proud of our partnership with the Container Store, and we were thrilled to be able to use the Elfa Closet to benefit Dress for Success!
Mindy and Shantell have an agreement that when Abundance is working at Dress for Success, Shantell is to stay out of the way. So she stayed in her office, which is in the back, but she could still see everything that was happening. Shantell said that she was very relaxed and comfortable throughout the entire process. In fact, she was so relaxed that she was able to binge watch her favorite shows while finishing writing a grant!
A SUCCESSFUL REVEAL
As Mindy says, “We always get excited by dramatic transformations…that is what lights us up!”
Shantell was thrilled with the outcome. “Absolutely beautiful…didn’t even imagine it could look like this,” she said. “I had been hoping, wishing, and praying that I could make this look like a real department store…it’s amazing!”
Shantell absolutely loved how Mindy’s vision for the shelving came to life. The Elfa Closet really delivered and transformed the space by implementing custom space design. “Although I had seen Mindy’s floor plan, this was beyond what I imagined,” said Shantell. “This feels like home now…it’s beautiful…we can grow here…it’s breathtaking!”
We were also so pleased to hear that a couple days after we finished this project, Dress for Success had a couple women go through their boutique; they had the time of their lives!
WE WOULD LOVE TO SUPPORT MORE ORGANIZATIONS!
If you know of an organization that can use a transformation, please contact us! We really do enjoy supporting and working with local organizations during our volunteer community organizing days. Giving back to our community by sharing our expertise is very important to us.