The Retreat recently offered a career-styling workshop for its clients, survivors of abuse, at The Retreat Boutique thrift store in the Bridgehampton Commons.
This inaugural workshop was the brainchild of Lauren Fedorko, who runs Take Charge, a financial education and career empowerment program for Retreat clients, and Laurie Sykes, a volunteer at the thrift store and professional stylist.
Take Charge provides group workshops to guide shelter clients and nonresidential clients on safe credit, budgeting, resumes, interviewing, and job searches. “My program is all about empowering them for the immediate future, because they’re going to be back out on their own with limited resources,” said Fedorko.
Many Retreat clients come to the shelter with nothing but the clothes on their back, so they need everything, Fedorko continued. “When I heard that Laurie was available to talk to clients about styling I said, ‘let’s make it work-style.’ She thought that was a great idea. So we turned this into a Take Charge workshop.” All of the women were given gift cards, and residents could additionally apply vouchers they received upon first entering the shelter.
“I’m really about empowering women, and to me, the clothes are just the tools to rediscover your inner confidence and beauty. How you present yourself matters,” explained Sykes, who has been volunteering at the thrift store since March, styling mannequins and helping display clothes.
Sykes worked with each survivor individually to find new pieces for their career attire. She offered tips on how to maximize a wardrobe using different accessories. “You can wear the same outfit all week and look different,” she said.
“We love sharing unique but meaningful workshops with clients,” said Loretta K. Davis, Executive Director of The Retreat. “Creating a professional wardrobe builds confidence and self-esteem. Laurie and the incredible thrift store staff, including Gigi, the Thrift Store Manager, made the experience fun. The shelter childcare coordinator, Karen, watched the children so that the clients could focus on the workshop. And, of course, clothing donors also helped to make this such a successful outing.”
“It goes back to self-respect and self-love, and it shows,” Sykes told the group.