a social enterprise empowering women

My Why

My Why

I founded Fashion Forward and consign my best pieces because I want to do everything I can to empower women. I believe we're all at a time when we're evaluating our closets and looking for ways to make a difference. That's why I, and all Fashion Forward consigners, donate sale proceeds --- 60% of every purchase --- to organizations lifting sisters forward. 

I love knowing another woman will get joy from fashion I treasured and in turn, nonprofits will receive what they need most --- funds to strengthen their programs and services.

Helping women in need is more important than ever. Galvanizing our collective power for good, our voices are amplified, and the community impact is multiplied. Together, we are greater than the obstacles. Please join us, consign and change lives!

That's the abridged version of my 'Why'! My journey, like every woman's, is unique. I'd love to learn yours! There's so much power in our stories, and we learn we're more alike than different. 

My mother's nonjudgmental generosity and classic personal style have always been an incredible influence on me. To this day, I aspire to be more like her - and always with the right shade of lipstick. This photo is of the 2 of us, circa 1967, when the first Women's Liberation movements were forming in cities like Berkeley and Boston. A remarkable time in our history.

From the time I could open a book, I couldn't get enough of the shoes and other finds featured in the JCPenney catalog. I'd spend hours fashioning my grade school wardrobe, and my favorite past time was shopping at the mall.

​I grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA - the daughter of a crane operator and a stay-at-home mom, and sister to a pesky younger brother who now lives in Atlanta with a fashionista daughter of his own. When I was 12, my parents put me on a clothing allowance of $20 a month to manage my increasingly costly shopping habit. I had champagne taste on a lemonade budget. After some creative searching, I gleefully found the designer looks I craved, secretly scoring gently worn treasures at the flea markets where my grandparents sold antiques.

I still remember my first coveted piece: an amazing tea-length black velvet skirt embellished with gold buttons and candy colored silk inserts that was similar one featured in VOGUE. I wore my treasure to a semi-formal neighborhood holiday party, feeling like the belle of the ball. A family friend asked my father how he afforded my wardrobe, and he responded, 'She manages her clothing budget well'.

There was no turning back, and my love of designer resale had begun. However, my secret for finding 'new to me' items that I loved and fit my budgeted allowance was hardly mainstream - it was 1978 - flea markets, thrifting and rummaging through goods at house sales was far from chic. So, I kept my wardrobe adventures on the DL.

As a young woman in the late '80's and early '90's with a career in the male dominated workplace (the photo features a colleague and me at a DC construction worksite fully decked out in shoulder pads and hardhats), I frequented estate sales ISO Armani-style power suits. I began to understand the critical importance of women's empowerment - equal pay and fair treatment were whispered about at the water cooler, and it was hard work just to have a seat at the table, let alone a voice in business decisions. 

Venturing overseas, I was captivated by runway shows, learning how to find sample sales and couture bargains. At the same time, I was humbled by privilege and deepened my involvement in social change, volunteerism and lifting women who lacked the resources needed to be heard, seen and successful. 

Returning stateside circa 2000, I started a designer resale site as a side gig, which helped divest my couture treasures while building reserve funds and the courage to leave my corporate job. In 2007, I took the leap of faith and with incredible support from the community, founded Dress for Success Columbus, an affiliate of Dress for Success, the global nonprofit organization empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. 

Witnessing over15,000 amazing women blossoming and achieving their potential with the support of Dress for Success 2007-2018 is without a doubt the most transformative experience of my life. Seeing these women thrive is a testament that when we lift a woman, we empower families and our communities are stronger.  

During my 12-year tenure as a nonprofit CEO, I learned how incredibly hard it is to raise a dollar and how critically important the services provided by a network of nonprofits is for women to achieve. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and coming together with organizations that provide needed resources from housing to healthcare is paramount. 

I engaged with many generous advocates who wanted to donate their luxury apparel and accessories in support of empowering women, however the items weren't suitable for job interviews, and attempting to sell them was both cumbersome and took away from the mission's core focus. 

When I passed the baton at Dress, I began exploring ways to amplify women's empowerment; the threads of my life were woven together, and FASHION FORWARD was born.

We've come a long way, and there's still far to go. Now is the time for each of us to leverage our love of FASHION for good; go green for the environment and use fashion as a catalyst to empower women, moving causes that champion sisters FORWARD, because we are greater than the obstacles. 

When fashionable philanthropists consign and buy merchandise as an investment in looking great, feeling great and making the statement that 'we are worth it', it's a formidable win-win-win. Galvanizing our collective power for good, our voices are amplified, and the community impact is multiplied. Join the FASHION FORWARD movement and use your great style to change her life!

​#greaterthan #forwardtogether #luxforlove

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