Susan's Story

Dress for Success found me. It wasn’t the other way around. I was going through a divorce and was out of work after years of working for the government. Somebody recommended Dress for Success to me. I hesitated because I felt like I did not fit the criteria for the program—I did not have children and I was not on government assistance. I applied anyway and, by the grace of God, I was accepted. From the first day I met the women, it all came together. So that’s why I always say Dress for Success found me.

It was all so uplifting and life-changing to join the organization. I grew up the youngest of eight children, from a very good family. My father worked and my mother did not have to; I did not want for anything. But then when I walked out of my marriage, I left everything. Coming from where I was and where I am now is humbling because I saw the other side. I was not out on the street, but I learned things, I learned to survive, and that’s why I rave about the program all the time.

I worked on my résumé and did mock interviews to prepare for a job interview the correct way. And I’m glad that I did because I wanted to work in the hotel industry, where I had zero background. I got a job with a man who hopes to turn a part of Atlanta into Times Square South. I was prepared for the interview and I know that I got the job because of the tools that I learned through Dress for Success.

The most important thing I learned is to be myself and to accept myself for how I am, and not to buy into the way society would have you. Dress for Success brought in psychologists and people that could talk to you and let you know that other people are going through the same things that you are going through. This is wonderful because when you are at home and you are sitting at your computer and you have no one with you, you are thinking that you are alone. You’re thinking that you’re the only one that is out of work and you’re thinking that nobody else is going through this. But that’s why I try to tell other young ladies, ‘Get out there! Get into the program, it’s not just about dressing for success. The program is bigger than that.’

I always say, ‘May those who follow me, follow me faithfully.’ There are young ladies, even women older than myself, who are going to come behind me and I know that I’m going to stretch my hand out to reach back to them because someone lent a hand to me and told me, ‘one step at a time.’ Just take it one step at a time. I now have a leadership role with other women. Now people can see the light inside of me because it shines.

I wear a Lupus bracelet that says, ‘Help us solve the cruel mystery.’ My mother and sister died of organ failure from the disease. I find inspiration and gain strength from seeing this bracelet on a daily basis. I do the Lupus walk every year—I saw what the disease did to them, and I saw them suffer, and in a way, that gives me strength, because what I have gone through, is nothing compared to what they went through. I must honor what my mother has done for me. She would never want me to give up on anything in life.