“It's amazing to see the transformation that happens when women work with Career Wardrobe. Some of them are coming off welfare, some are battered, others just unlucky in finding jobs. They emerge with more self confidence. They smile. It's great to see that turnaround happen.”
Volunteering: A Conversation with Yasmina Ba
Our Ardmore Store manager Yasmine Ba was invited to join the Board of Directors for Career Wardrobe, one of the store's nonprofit partners. We asked her to share her thoughts:
How did you become involved with Career Wardrobe?
When our store had its grand opening celebration in 2005, we partnered with this unique nonprofit. Career Wardrobe has an amazing team of dedicated women who work extremely hard to train domestically abused and financially disadvantaged women and introduce them into the work force. Women's shelters and various types of agencies refer them to Career Wardrobe. We've helped by running accessories drives, leading workshops on wardrobing and interviewing skills and narrating their big annual fashion show.
Most boards are composed of people who have various areas of expertise - where do you fit into the mix?
Through our store, I had experience in reaching out and organizing community activities. We are based in a village and it is our mission to be an active part of our community. When we partner with an organization, we support them not just at a one-time seasonal event but throughout the year.
Because of our support, Career Wardrobe has been able to rally other retailers in our area to organize benefit shopping events and to generate ideas around future events. Career Wardrobe's fund-raising activities used to be concentrated in Philadelphia. As a result of our partnership, they have now expanded to the outlying suburbs, allowing them access to a double-digit grant from a local bank and gain support from many area businesses.
Being a store manager is more than a full-time job. What kind of time and resource commitment does it require?
Our communication has been mostly through teleconference. Many of the other board members have a background in retail and are sensitive to my schedule.
Do you enjoy working with the other members?
I have gained so much knowledge from the members about marketing, fund-raising, proposals, grants. Nonprofits are often run on a skeleton crew along with some volunteers. They have to be creative about marketing and fund-raising since they rely on donations to stay alive.
Has being on the board offered any insights that you've brought to EILEEN FISHER?
It reinforced the idea that partnerships are key-internal partnerships within our teams to create memorable events for our customers, external partnerships with neighboring retailers to support a common goal. It is wonderful to be part of a company that encourages store teams to have a positive effect on women's lives and make a difference in their community.
Would you join other boards, and recommend your colleagues to do so?
Absolutely! It is such a rewarding experience to see ideas bounced around and then come to fruition. You're not just talking about making an impact in women's lives, you're actually doing it!