Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- At Kim’s Spa and Nails in Derry, beauty is business. But owner Kim Ong says a new partnership with Dress for Success New Hampshire will help extend her staff’s skills to underprivileged women looking for work.
“We want to give back to the community, and as a female business owner, I wanted to do something for women who need to get back on their feet, especially with the holiday season,” Ong said.
Dress for Success, an international charity with a New Hampshire chapter based in Concord, helps provide professional attire and accessories to unemployed women statewide to help them land a job. Women who are referred to the charity are outfitted with professional attire and a brush-up on interviewing skills before heading out for a job.
Ong and her staff hosted a handbag drive benefiting Dress for Success on Thursday, with about half a dozen customers turning out to donate handbags, accessories and professional clothing to the charity. The spa will host monthly drives moving forward.
“We are in the appearance business, so we just felt it was the best way to give back,” said Carolyn Travers, marketing manager for the spa. “And if we can get a woman on her feet and feeling good about the way she looks, we’re happy.”
And Norma Milne, who serves on the Dress for Success board of directors, said the charity is just as excited about the new partnership.
“This was an incredible success for them obviously because it’s near and dear to their hearts, and it’s wonderful for the organization,” Milne said Friday, of Thursday’s drive. “I’m thrilled beyond belief.”
Krysten Evans, executive director of Dress for Success New Hampshire, said that helping women prepare for work starts a chain reaction.
“It has a huge impact for her personally and her family,” Evans said. “But our services bring women out of poverty and in the long run it helps the community because when she gets a job she can give back to the community in other ways. We’re not just giving a woman a suit, we’re changing her life.”
Ong said she hopes that her project will create a similar ripple effect among other business owners and clients.
“We all can chip in to do a little, but it’s very meaningful for people in need,” she said.
And Diane Blais of Manchester, who donated a used briefcase on Thursday, said she was glad to help.
“I think first impressions are everything and just having professional attire makes you feel that much more confident,” Blais said.
Blais and her friend Marilyn Daley of Londonderry also took advantage of special spa treatments during Thursday’s event.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to help other women in our area and a chance to pamper myself a little, too,” Daley said.
In addition to monthly clothing drives, Ong said she is sending members of her staff to speak before Dress for Success meetings to share information about makeup application and personal hygiene. And down the line, she said she plans to invite Dress for Success clients into her store for complimentary makeovers.
For more information about Dress for Success, visit www.dressforsuccess.org.