South Charlotte

Fundraiser preps women for job market

Confidence can't be given or bought, but as Dress for Success knows professional attire can make a difference.

Dress for Success Charlotte serves more than 800 Charlotte area women every year, but it is more than just a nonprofit offering suits for job interviews.

This holiday season, through a partnership with Carmen Carmen Salons, the number of women empowered for success in the workforce will grow.

Three Carmen Carmen locations - in Cotswold Village Shops, Ballantyne Commons and Mallard Pointe - are participating in Stockings For Success. Donate new, unopened stockings or pantyhose through Dec. 31 to any of these three locations and receive $5 in Carmen cash that can be redeemed for products or services.

"Throughout the year, we help hundreds of low-income women move up and out of poverty, largely by providing suits for interviews and employment," said Kerry Barr O'Connor, executive director of Dress for Success Charlotte. "This monthlong partnership with Carmen Carmen Salons will allow us to offer our clients the finishing touch of hosiery."

Dress for Success boasts 114 affiliates in 12 countries, with the Charlotte office being the first affiliate in North Carolina.

"Carmen Carmen has been a long-term partner with Dress for Success," said O'Connor. "We strive to partner with those like Carmen Carmen that use their time and talents to improve the quality of women's lives. Especially during that holiday season, the women we serve can not get professional services like those they provide."

Carmen Cutrona, founder of the Charlotte-based Carmen Carmen Salon chain, provided a half-day of free haircuts at the organization's Boutique and Transformation Center on Clanton Road on Dec. 15.

"Style is about both appearance and confidence," said Cutrona. "The combination of a great haircut, professional apparel and accessories like pantyhose can give women a leg up in any interview or work situation."

Dress for Success has expanded its services to support clients through job preparedness and career enrichment.

"Our Boutique and Transformation Center holds monthly meetings for professional women that focus on career retention and enhancement through programming that emphasizes among other things, financial literacy, health and wellness," said O'Connor. "Our goal is for the women we serve to stay in a job and grow their careers."