Dressed to Impress: Breaking Barriers to Employment through Fashion

Fashionkind Foundation is a San Diego organization that supports the self-esteem of women in recovery from substance abuse and addiction by providing quality clothing and personalized service at no cost.

Fashionkind was founded in 2018 by Johannah Warren following the discovery of a disabling autoimmune disorder.  Believing her professional life was compromised, she used the setback to look at her impact on the world and turn a long-time passion for women into a reality. Her conviction to address substance abuse was rooted in many heartbreaking years of watching her sister slip away to addiction.

For many women, becoming physically and mentally substance free is just the first step of recovery. Afterwards, the continued process of rebuilding their lives is critical to preventing relapse. Fashionkind aims to strengthen their sense of purpose and confidence as they rejoin the workforce.

To this end, Fashionkind collects donations of lightly used clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry. Women in sober living residences who are returning to work are invited for a shopping experience at the boutique to get clothes for interviewing or work. In this supportive environment, a team of caring and committed volunteers provide personal service to assist in choosing outfits, matching accessories and maintaining a focus on helping women arrive at a level of self-confidence that enables them to achieve independence. The increased self-esteem that comes from securing and maintaining employment not only helps individual women, but contributes to stable families, which, in turn, improves the viability and safety of our communities.

The biggest success stories come from the volunteers, many of whom have been down the road of recovery themselves. Fashionkind’s dedication to building a sobriety support system creates strong connections between volunteers and customers, especially since the emphasis is on fellowship rather than charity. “I wish something like this existed when I was trying to get clean and turn my life around,” a volunteer shared. “I felt so alone in my struggle, and I love that the boutique offers a safe environment for sharing our stories in a fun, creative setting.”

Fashionkind was selected as a Jim Schorr Scholar in April 2019. “The ideas and suggestions from others in the group have been truly inspiring, as I am repeatedly exposed to innovative means of addressing time-worn problems,” Johannah says. “I’ve always dreamed of doing something impactful, and seeing the looks on these women’s faces is all I need to remind me that we’re on the right track.”As Fashionkind grows, they’ll continue to expand their community offerings, including the development of an apprenticeship program for women with high barriers to employment. This program will also include solutions to barriers around education, transportation and adequate childcare options. In addition, Fashionkind will hold its inaugural gala on Giving Tuesday 2019 in the form of a Runway Show to celebrate the women who have been freed from the grips of addiction and reclaimed their lives. The models will be outfitted for the runway, display their confidence and tell their stories of triumph. To attend or support the fundraiser, please visit the event page here.

To learn more about Fashionkind, check out their member directory profile.

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