How did the Wear2Start Society start?
A small group of women from the Victoria area created Wear2Start in 2001. The non-profit charity set out to help women who had graduated from employment and training programs, but faced a conundrum: They needed money to buy appropriate clothes to make a good impression that might help them land a job, but they didn’t have enough money to acquire a work wardrobe until they got a job. Wear2Start tapped the community to recycle gently used work attire for women in need. Over more than 15 years, Wear2Start has helped thousands of women gain confidence and increase their chances of employment.
Since our inception, we have expanded our mandate to include helping women in need dress their best and make a great first impression in any situation that will take them a step toward success – whatever that looks like for that individual. That could be anything from meeting a prospective landlord, a potential employer or a lawyer. It could also mean finally getting some up-to-date, stylish clothing after an emergency – fleeing an abusive relationship, a change in health or life circumstances, or almost any other situation that has meant losing access to clothing.
No wonder the Globe and Mail once called Wear2Start “a work wardrobe fairy godmother.”
How do you choose who to help?
We are happy to serve all self-identified women. Clients are referred to us by employment and job training agencies as well as community organizations. You can see a list of some of the agencies we have worked with on our Refer Clients page.
What kind of donations is the organization in need of?
We want to provide our clients with up-to-date, stylish clothing any women would be happy to wear to work or an interview. Our clients go on to work in a variety of job settings, including offices, restaurants, grocery stores, schools and daycare centres, so we look for a wide range of professional clothing. We also welcome donations of gently used shoes, purses, classic jewelry and new undergarments. Even items such as a portfolio in which to bring resumes to an interview are helpful. Please note that we have limited storage space, so we ask that you be selective in choosing just a few of the best items you have to donate.
How and where can I make a donation?
Please see our Donate page.
What does the organization do with clothes it cannot use?
Sometimes, we receive high-end party wear that is not appropriate for our clients. We have an arrangement with a consignment store that sells the clothes and the proceeds are used to support the work of Wear2Start. In summary, these donations serve as a fundraiser source. For example, the money earned from consignments is used to purchase items such as bras, tops or trousers when the boutique does not have the appropriate size items for a client. Other donated clothing and accessories that are not suitable for either our clients or resale are donated to a number of thrift stores in Victoria. We also have a relationship with the Costume Loft at Langham Court. We donate appropriate items to the Costume Loft which holds an annual sale and gives us the proceeds from sales of clothing we have donated.
How can a company make a donation?
We are grateful to receive donations in kind from local companies. For example, some retailers have donated new clothing and some hair salons provide a hair cut for clients. We could use more of these services and, from time to time, we require other services such as dry cleaning, clothing alterations and cosmetology. If you, your business or someone you know would like to contribute to wear to start, please let us know.
What kind of volunteering opportunities are available? What kind of commitment is required?
There is a wide range of opportunities to help Wear2Start help women in need. You could spend a few hours a week sorting clothes and dressing clients or sign up to work at one-time events such as clothing sales or serve on our board of directors. Board members devote about five hours a month to meetings, preparation and consultation. They serve for two years and cannot exceed three consecutive terms. Volunteers who work in the boutique are asked to commit to about five hours each week. The boutique is generally open for clients 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. three days a week. When Wear2Start Society is in need of volunteers, we post a notice on our Facebook page and in the News & Events section of this website as well as on the Volunteer Victoria website.
To inquire about volunteering, please send us an email about how you would like to help.