Jeannette Kendall began her career as a fashion consultant, teaching women around the country how to access their own fashion sense and style. Her talks were so successful that the most common question women asked her was, “What do I do now with all the clothes I need to give away?”
This question inspired Kendall to change the direction of her business and find a way to put used clothes to good use. She founded Success in Style, a nonprofit organization that accepts clothing donations in support of those seeking to enter the workforce. SIS provides work-ready apparel and job interview training to these men and women, who are often referred from prison outreach programs, the Department of Social Services, HopeWorks, Sheppard Pratt, homeless shelters, and even church groups. The Success in Style studio includes all clothes and accessories to give the job seekers a polished, professional look.
Located in Savage Mill Mall, Success in Style currently accepts all kinds of clothing and accessory donations. Donations of non-business attire support Success in Style though its subsidiaries Charity’s Closet, Phil’s Closet, Charity’s First Picks, Cherie Amour Bridal Resale, secondhand stores that sells clothing, shoes, and accessories. The stores are operated by Kendall, a limited staff, and many volunteers.
At Success in Style, volunteers sort clothing donations, determining for which outlet the clothes are appropriate. Bins are then sorted by season, and off-season items are tagged and stored for alter. Clothes that are not appropriate for any of the outlets are donated to other organizations. For instance, bridal clothes that are out of style will be sent to an organization that helps the poor in Haiti have weddings.
To volunteer at Success in Style, says Kendall, “You don’t have to have a fashion experience, you just have to have a big heart.”
While the program attracts a lot of volunteers who like fashion, many are also retired or semi-retired women who have had careers in fields like administration, medicine, and engineering.
“All the volunteers are so critical for the organization to run well,” says Kendall. “It takes a village—it’s absolutely true. It’s all the manpower—it makes a huge difference."
Volunteer at Success in Style at Good Deeds Day on April 15 here.