Success Suits You is a new initiative launching in Dunedin tomorrow to help equip jobseekers with the clothes and skills needed to successfully get a job.
It is a spin-off from Employment Careers South, which was established in 2021 to get the labour sector in the city working together.
The aim was to create a Dress for Success-style service to empower people to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire for interviews and career development tools.
Two of the group’s founders, Dean Delaney and Deb Sutton, said Dunedin’s version would be supported by a team of volunteers who covered roles such as personal stylists, programme co-ordinators, career advisers, events support, design/website support and other general roles.
Research showed hundreds of Dunedin people, of all ages, decided annually to enter the workforce.
Some had spent years dedicating their time to family, others were unemployed and some were entering the workforce for the first time.
"For many, the first step into work is challenging. That’s where Success Suits You is able to help," Mr Delaney said.
Mrs Sutton said the group looked at other similar models but decided to "go it alone". The name came from a course she ran in her day job as regional labour market adviser at the Ministry of Social Development.
Part of that course was about helping women get back into employment after a period out of the workforce and a pile of clothes was donated to use for interviews.
But then Covid happened and the course could not be run in-person, and it seemed a waste not to do something with the clothes which included designer labels.
So it was decided to establish the boutique in rented premises in Stafford St.
The service was offered by referrals.
Initial funding came from a Lotteries Commission grant and the Begg Foundation.
Further funding would be sought to cover rent and operational costs.
As well as providing styling and an interview outfit, interview coaching, help with CVs and - if the person needed upskilling - help with courses on offer could also be provided.
It was all free, run by volunteers and people within their network, Mrs Sutton said.
Mr Delaney, of Platinum Recruitment, said there had been "phenomenal" support and buy-in from the city’s business community.
Firebrand had brought the Success Suits You brand to life pro bono - just one example of the support received.
Mr Delaney was equally excited about the potential outcomes from the initiative, saying he could not wait to "fast-forward three months and see the impact this has had on people’s ability to get a job".
Wearing the right clothes had a "massive psychological impact", as it enabled them to bring the best version of themselves to an interview and increase their chances of success, he said.
Mrs Sutton was hoping that clothing would "fly out the door", so a regular supply of both men’s and women’s clothing was required.
Good quality clothes suitable for interviews were needed, along with accessories such as bags, ties, scarves and jewellery, and volunteers were also needed several hours a week.