The signature space at Dress for Success Charlotte is designed to look like a trendy boutique and create the experience of being in an upscale clothing store. Photo courtesy of Joel Lassiter.

Dress for Success Charlotte

Celebrating 20 years of empowering women

By Dawn Liles

One of the bright spots in 2020 was the 20th anniversary of the local nonprofit Dress for Success Charlotte (DFS), whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence. While the organization is perhaps best known for its interview and employment suiting, it has grown to offer much more.

“The more women we can help through our various programs, the more we help the community we all live in,” says DFS Charlotte’s development manager and Ballantyne resident Sally Ganz.

Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019 and a DFS volunteer, spoke at a job acquisition program held prior to the pandemic with Going Places Network clients. Photo Courtesy of Dress for Success Charlotte.

A small but passionate staff works with hundreds of dedicated volunteers, many of whom live in Ballantyne, to provide a network of support to no and low-income women. Nearly 70 agency partners refer clients to DFS.

As the organization enters its third decade of service to thousands of women in the Greater Charlotte community, Dress for Success Charlotte is introducing a new campaign, Your Hour, Her Power.

“We are embracing the month of March, Women’s History Month, as a way of celebrating women in positions of power throughout the Greater Charlotte community,” says Kerry Barr O’Connor, DFS Charlotte’s executive director, who has been at the helm of DFS since 2015. “We will be highlighting the importance and impact of women’s leadership in our community and are doing it when it is needed most.”

Dress for Success is a worldwide organization that offers a safe environment for both clients and volunteers to share their talents and treasures and build relationships. One of its notable volunteers is a recognizable face – Charlotte’s own Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019.

Pam James, client services manager, says, “it’s an honor to meet women where they are and to truly see them. DFS goes beyond providing just the suit. We’re providing job acquisition and employment retention programs that ultimately change the trajectory of a woman’s life and her family’s life.”