ACDN: How long have you been involved with your agency and the Alliance of Career Development Nonprofits (ACDN)?
JK: I am the founder of Success In Style, which I started seventeen (17) years ago. We have been members of ACDN for about nine (9) years…can’t really remember when we joined (you were The Women's Alliance at that time).
ACDN: What makes your organization special or unique?
JK: We are a self-supporting nonprofit organization, although we encourage donors and grantors, we do not depend on them. Success in Style (SIS) has four (4) resale shops that support our mission entirely.
ACDN: How has this work affected you?
JK: The growth of our organization has demanded that I grow with it. I started the organization as a fashion designer with no nonprofit experience or knowledge…just a bleeding heart with some big dreams. I used my marketing/business sense and my fashion expertise to defy the notion that nonprofits have to be long-suffering and shabby.
ACDN: What is your biggest challenge as an Executive Director and how are you overcoming this challenge?
JK: My biggest challenge now is to grow SIS to the next level. We need to transition from a working board to a corporate minded, growth-oriented board with perspective, diversity and business experience. While achieving this goal, it is imperative to communicate to the current board, (who brought us to a remarkable level) our gratitude for their valuable contributions while they settle into into their new roles. A lot of research on the life cycle of nonprofit boards has helped us form reasonable expectations and guide our decision-making.
ACDN: Tell us a success story about your organization.
JK: Success in Style now boasts studios (offices for SIS consultations) at six different locations, but we are extremely proud that three of these studios are on Job Corps campuses in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. When the newly trained students are going on internships or graduating from their program and going to interview for a job in their new trade, we are there for them to suit them up, provide interview etiquette and be their “cheerleader.” After their SIS consultation, many of these young adults often will stay in their suits, even though they have to go back to class — in order to show off their new found confidence!
ACDN: Tell us a client story.
JK: I have a couple to share. Margot came to us while seeking refuge at a domestic violence shelter. She was a stay-at-home mom with two young children. After a life threatening attack on her life she took charge. She came to SIS broken but determined. She had been out of the workforce for a few years so after receiving coaching on current style and appropriate work attire, she was confident and eager to interview. She received an offer on her second interview as a teacher at the school her children attended. Ever since then, Margot has shopped for her clothes at our supporting resale shops and brings her now grown daughters too. Margot was remarried last year and is still teaching and often expresses her gratitude for the support she received at the lowest time of her life.
Jonathan is an immigrant from Morocco. He was such a gentleman at his consultation. He was so grateful for his new look but realized that we were missing something important on our menu of services provided: hair care. He became a licensed hairstylist and now offers one free haircut for each of our clients.
ACDN: Complete the following sentences...
JK: Being a member of ACDN enables our agency to... "Have access to an incredibly diverse group of individuals with endless resources."
JK: If it were not for ACDN... "Our clients would have really ugly bras (true) AND honestly among other things, ACDN is the best confidence booster to start-ups. I received a visit from the execs at that time; they made me feel truly empowered to follow my vision…and I did!"