Uncommon Threads: Empowering and Helping Women
Recently, Armitron teamed up with Susan Kanoff, style influencer and blogger, of The Midlife Fashionista, to create an exclusive watch for her company, Uncommon Threads. Susan sat down to talk about the company and how it helps to empower women.
Ana had one pair of shoes. They were a size too big and her feet were covered in blisters. The beat-up shoes were symbolic of Ana’s life for she had been beaten every day during her 15-year marriage and pulled around the house by her hair. Her life was a living hell. She got the courage to flee with her two young children and is now in hiding. Her son has a mountain of medical issues and Ana is constantly taking him to the doctors. She has not been able to hold down a job due to a lack of transportation, her son’s illness and her own post-traumatic stress.
Ana’s social worker referred her to Uncommon Threads as she was in dire need of clothes. She had two outfits that she wore over and over again and of course the one pair of ill-fitting shoes. At her styling session, Ana received several new outfits, lots of hugs and a brand new pair of Italian leather flats donated by a local shoe store. When she put the new shoes on, she cried and told us that she had forgotten what comfortable shoes felt like. She managed a smile through the tears, and put her old shoes in the trash.
Uncommon Threads has been a dream of mine for years-it’s the perfect combination of my skill-sets as a social worker, wardrobe stylist and style blogger. I see first-hand how important it is for women to love how they look—to feel beautiful inside and out—to feel empowered. But many women don’t have the luxury of shopping for clothes or treating themselves to new things. Many women have never had the experience of being “waited on” or pampered. They’ve never been told they’re beautiful and certainly never felt it. They put themselves last and their self-esteem is non-existent. Most of our clients don’t even like looking in the mirror. But we change that.
I started Uncommon Threads last November and we began seeing clients in December. Since then, we’ve styled over 200 women and have had incredibly positive feedback from both our clients and their social workers. We’ve been featured in The Boston Globe, on Boston news (the segment went national) in Woman’s World Magazine and in Northshore Magazine. This year our goal is to empower over 400 women!
You might wonder what makes us different from other clothing programs like Dress for Success.
We are focused more on self-esteem than work. Although we can dress a woman for an interview or the workplace, we can also style women who are not working–like female veterans, disabled women, domestic violence survivors and those living in shelters. We can even dress a woman for a wedding, or in the case of Rosa, for her grandson’s birthday party. Rosa didn’t want to go because she was ashamed of the way she looked. We sent her to the party in style and with her head held high.
Uncommon Threads is not your average clothing program. It’s a warm and inviting place that looks like a high-end boutique. Our inventory is new or “like new”–everything is donated from women in the community as well as from clothing companies that align with our mission to empower women. We take time to get to know our clients. We want them to feel important, worthy and beautiful.
Uncommon Threads is all about lifting women up. It’s an outside-in approach—a little out of the box, but it works. We’ve
had therapists tell us that our sessions are better than therapy. It’s shopping therapy. It’s women helping women. It’s pure magic.
Here’s how it works…
Clients are referred by social service professionals, such as therapists, doctors and case managers. They are all ages—we’ve worked with teen moms to elderly women! If there is a need, we will help. Each woman gets a one-hour personal styling session and leaves with four complete outfits including accessories, a handbag and shoes. Our clients walk unable to look in the mirror and leave asking to have their photo taken for our Facebook page!
We encourage our clients to shop often—we want them to come back. We ask for a $10.00 donation but if they can’t afford it, their social worker lets us know. We will never turn anyone away, as it’s not the $10 that will fund the program—it’s the empowerment of paying.
Our future plans include expanding our new Women’s Empowerment Center, where we hold self-esteem focused groups and workshops designed to strengthen women. In 2018 we’d like to add mentoring, hair and beauty services and stress management workshops.
We are truly grateful to our amazing volunteers and businesses like Armitron for believing in the program. The Armitron Uncommon Threads watch is not only a beautiful timepiece, but its message is a powerful reminder to build women up and to spread kindness. I hope that you will purchase an Uncommon Threads watch and support our mission to empower women. Thank you!
To learn more about Uncommon Threads or to make a donation, visit www.uncommonthreads.org
Featured in this article (click image for more on the Armitron x Uncommon Threads Limited Edition Watch):