Dress for Success Empowers Women Through Clothing

Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide, about the women the organization serves and how the organization goes beyond clothing to help 1 million women become self-sufficient and empowered.

7/11/2017 #2056






"So I had just come out of a federal prison, and one of the counselors says, "Do you have clothes for an interview?" And I said, "I just got home. I gotta start gettin' it together." She goes, "I'm going to send you to some place. And the women there are very nice." When I went in for my suiting, it was amazing. Like they just really took the time to really kind of understand my body type, what I wanted, what it was for. You just feel the confidence. Like you don't... there's something about just wearing clothing that makes you feel good. When I left there, I just felt like "I got this job!" [laughter] And I did. That's great stuff. It's an organization called Dress For Success Worldwide. And Joi Gordon is the CEO. How are you? I'm wonderful. Thank you. Such important work. It's been amazing work for the last 20 years to see this organization grow from a basement of a church here in New York City, to now 150 offices in 23 countries serving over a million women. It's extremely wonderful. Dress For Success was created when? 1997, by a young woman at law school at NYU got an inheritance from her great grandfather for $5,000. And you started volunteering? I did. You were a lawyer? I was a lawyer here in New York. And really wanted to donate a suit. And then donate my time. And then I just fell head over heels in love with the mission of this organization. And realized I needed to make a difference, not only in my life, but in other women's lives. What hooked you? Just the mission. The simplicity of helping women look and feel good. And knowing what that felt like for me being in the courtroom, wearing a suit everyday. How I felt powerful. And how that suit could transfer power to another woman. Talk about some of the women... you know what? I was gonna say "kind" of women. That's ridiculous. All kinds of women? Right? All sorts of women walk through the door of Dressed For Success. Like, any woman who needs a job, who wants to take care of herself and her family, they come to our organization and they just need support. And that's what this organization does. It gives the woman the support she needs when she needs it. So a woman comes in? By the way, how does she know how to find you? Well we work with... You find her? No. She find you? Well, no, we find her and she finds us, but we work with thousands of nonprofit job training agencies around the world. And so women are in training programs, and once they..."