500 Women Empowered

As volunteers, we are privileged to meet women from all walks of life and be able to play a small part in turning their lives around. Each one inspires us with their courage, resilience and determination to succeed. Each one is special. Every one counts.

In June 2019, we served our 500th client since opening our doors in 2015. Founder Pang Li Kin shares her thoughts on this milestone...

 

"One might ask how our 500th client is different from our first, or for that matter, all others? Well, for one thing, we now have a lot more clothes! There was only one rack in 2015 when our 1st client Lina (not her real name) walked in; now we are bursting at the seams.

 

However, all our clients share similar stories of transformation and renewed confidence. Lina, aged 45, was divorced and raising five children on her own. She had applied for many administration jobs but was turned down. She felt dejected and had low self-esteem.

 

We helped her identify her strengths and styled her in a smart dress. We practised mock interviews to give her the confidence to answer tough questions such as ‘why should we hire you?’. She walked out that day looking great, feeling positive and sporting a big smile on her face.

 

I still remember the confidence in her voice when she called us after the interview. It had gone very well. In fact, she was offered the job almost immediately as the boss was so impressed with her!

 

While not all our clients find jobs, their shared stories of renewed confidence and hope continues to inspire all of us at Image Mission and Dress for Success Singapore who support them."

Careers Day with AccorHotels

Our clients were recently inspired to embrace a career in hospitality at a special event hosted by Novotel and Mercure Singapore on Stevens. 

At the ‘Careers In Hospitality’ Day on 13 September, participants enjoyed a hotel tour and exclusive behind-the-scenes look at hotel operations such as housekeeping, F&B, front desk and backroom operations. They were also treated to a delightful afternoon tea and inspired by hospitality veteran of 50 years, Irene Suen’s testimonial of her career in the industry.

 

“I felt reassured that age is not a barrier to re-enter the workforce, as long as one is determined and willing to persevere.” - Norhana

 

Founder Pang Li Kin said, “Indeed, AccorHotels have walked the talk about what hospitality is all about and far exceeded our expectations. I could see the transformation in our clients - from apprehension to inspiration.”

 

Solidarity AccorHotels Grant

In 2017, Image Mission received a grant from Solidarity AccorHotels endowment fund in support of Dress for Success Singapore. In addition to financial support, the group also provides support through employee engagement activities such as this careers event.

“We are thrilled to support Dress for Success members and provide a glimpse into what the hospitality industry has to offer as a career.

 

AccorHotels is always looking for avenues to further empower women in the workplace and Image Mission’s purpose resonates perfectly with AccorHotels’ Diversity & Inclusion commitment in this respect.”

- Gaynor Reid, Vice President Communications & CSR, AccorHotels Asia Pacific

Our 3rd Anniversary

Three years have simply flown by since Founder Pang Li Kin incorporated Image Mission in March 2015. Six months later – in September 2015 - we started operating Dress for Success Singapore as an affiliate of international non profit organisation Dress for Success Worldwide. In 2017, they awarded us Rookie of the Year.

Photos: Highboon Studios

To date, we have served more than 300 disadvantaged women, empowering them to secure employment and thrive in their new jobs. We are grateful for the support of 20 referral partners and a pool of 40 active volunteers, some of whom have been with us from the start.

Be Empowered

 

We celebrated our 3rd anniversary on 28 March 2018 with volunteers, clients, supporters and partners with an appreciation morning tea event at Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay.

Ms Kim Underhill, Founder of Ultimate Balance Consultancy and President of Daughters of Tomorrow graced the event as our keynote speaker. Kim had us hanging on to her every word as she related how she overcame challenges as a single mother to succeed in the corporate world and shared tips on how to “Be Empowered”.

Awards

“Every single minute you give, every word of advice and every dress or dollar you donate has come a long way in making our journey possible.” –Li Kin

Founder Pang Li Kin presented awards to the following in recognition of their outstanding support:

 

Founder’s Award for Volunteerism (Coaching and Styling): Louise White

 

An active volunteer since 2015, Louise has coached and styled the most number of clients. Her practical interview and styling tips and encouraging words have given many clients the confidence to ace their interviews and get the job.

 

Founder’s Award for Volunteerism (Service): Hew Yee Min

 

Yee Min joined in 2017 and has willingly served in a wide variety of areas, including coaching, building client and partner relationships and selling clothes at our boutique and pop-up sales.

 

“I volunteered with Image Mission as I was looking to share my professional skills and experience. It has been a very rewarding experience working with clients and like-minded volunteers. As there are many different areas I can support, I find myself learning and acquiring new skills and knowledge and making new friends in the process.” – Yee Min

 

Community Partner of the Year: Daughters of Tomorrow

 

Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT) is one of our pioneer partners who work closely with us to help disadvantaged women achieve their dreams. We value the efforts of DOT’s staff who have referred the most number of clients to us in 2017.

 

Corporate Partner of the Year: AccorHotels

 AccorHotels has been our pioneer venue partner since 2016 and a generous sponsor of vacation stays for our raffle draws. In 2017, the Solidarity AccorHotels endowment fund awarded us a grant for Dress for Success Singapore.

I M Ready. Are you?

Introducing our new I M Ready Career Centre. This one-stop solution equips clients to be fully work-ready.

 

Under our Dress for Success programme, we prepare clients for job interviews through interview coaching and professional styling. But not every client secures the job. Others may find their new jobs are not well suited to their skills and interests.

To help unemployed and under-employed clients gain meaningful employment, we introduced a full range of services under the I M Ready Career Centre. How does it work?

Services

  • One-on-one career coaching – we assess a client’s competencies, interests and motivations, guide her on career options and help develop a job search strategy and action plan

  • Resources – we provide a self-help resource centre equipped with computers and job search tools

  • Training – we provide training on workplace skills and career development

 

Impact

 

Most importantly of all, these services empower clients to take concrete action steps towards gaining meaningful employment, thriving at work and advancing in their career.

 

Founder Pang Li Kin said, “We are pleased to see some positive results from clients who have used the I M Ready model, from clarifying their career choices to developing a more focussed approach in their job search. The process may take a little longer but is definitely effective in helping our clients find a career that is sustainable."

 

Client Lizan shared, “The coaching session has helped me better understand my strengths and skills. I also learnt how to write a resume properly. Thank you so much for all your help.”

 

The I M Ready Career Centre complements the Dress for Success programme in supporting our clients throughout their journey to economic empowerment. Together, they enable us to meet the needs of more disadvantaged women in our community so they can create a brighter future for themselves and their families.

IPC since 2017

Image Mission has been approved as an Institution of a Public Character (IPC) for another 2 years with effect from 1 January 2018. We have had IPC status since 1 January 2017. 

 

This allows us to issue tax deductible receipts to donors in Singapore who want to claim tax relief on their donations. The current tax relief is 250% of the donation.

 

As a registered charity with IPC status, we renew our commitment to serving the needs of the disadvantaged in Singapore. We look forward to your continued support for Dress for Success Singapore and our efforts to empower women to achieve economic independence.

2017 Rookie of the Year

Dress for Success Singapore is honoured to receive the Dress for Success 2017 Rookie of the Year award.

 

With this recognition, we look forward to empowering more disadvantaged women into the workforce next year and working with them to achieve economic independence.

 

On the Move 

Our new office and boutique at Wintech Centre seems as if it was made just for us. So with all the excitement and chaos of relocating, we packed our bags and moved, bidding farewell to our first home at Trivex.

Our new space in the light industrial area of Ubi Road 1 seems tailor-made for us. The unit already had ample built-in shelves perfect for storing clothes, shoes and bags as well as two office rooms perfect for coaching and operations. There is even a bonus mezzanine level great for holding meetings.

 

We now also have space to set up our Career Centre. This will offer online resources such as resume templates and a career coach for clients who need guidance on career development.

 

Within a week of moving, we were up and running, thanks to wonderful volunteers. We re-opened on 4 July 2017 and held a small celebration on 29 July for volunteers, to update them on our programmes and upcoming events.

 

From our new base, we look forward to empowering more women and helping them get their foot on the career ladder!

Mentoring Programme

Dress for Success is popularly known as providing professional clothes to women in need. Less well known is how our mentoring programme continues to empower them to achieve more once they get the job.

Dress for Success Singapore offers a 4-weekly mentoring programme to all newly employed clients. The programme aims to empower clients to retain employment and develop professional skills that will help them thrive at work. Sessions are conducted one-on-one and mentors help mentees identify and work towards achieving their career goals. Mentors also offer practical advice on work-place issues.

All our volunteer mentors have industry experience and are matched with clients who can benefit from their expertise and working experience. At present, we have 7 mentors on roster who have mentored some 12 clients.

 

Supporting the Journey 

“My mentor is genuinely concerned about me and my success. She gives me direct, constructive feedback and sets me thinking about my career. She is also the go-to person when I am faced with difficult decisions,” said mentee Rui Xue.

Her mentor Lee Siew Sze added, “It’s an extraordinary experience being there for a young lady as she navigates her first six months of work. I feel honoured yet humbled to be trusted for advice, knowing that my words could have an impact on her decisions and self confidence . We’ve kept in touch even after the mentoring sessions ended and she recently found a new job she looks forward to!”

Our support doesn’t stop here. Future Career Centre services will offer clients an ongoing network of support and resources to help them stay motivated and upgrade their skills. Stay tuned for more on this programme.

We're now IPC!

Image Mission has been approved as an Institution of a Public Character (IPC) with effect from 1 January 2017. This allows us to issue tax deductible receipts to donors in Singapore who want to claim tax relief on their donations. The current tax relief is 250% of the donation.

 

As a registered charity with IPC status, we renew our commitment to serving the needs of the disadvantaged in Singapore. We look forward to your continued support for Dress for Success Singapore and our efforts to empower women to achieve economic independence.

Dress for Success Singapore on TV

 

It was lights, camera and action when a TV crew came to our boutique!

We had a fantastic opportunity to share the Dress for Success story on TV when Mediacorp chinese current affairs programme 晨光第一线 "Morning Express" asked to feature us in a segment on local initiatives that empower various communities in society.

It was a full day of filming and interviews with our founder Li Kin, volunteers, clients and referral partner. For client Aw Rui Xue who handled her TV debut with great confidence, it was an opportunity to show her appreciation for the help she has received: "I am thankful that Dress for Success prepared me well for my interviews and helped me get ready to enter the workforce with coaching and styling for work-ready outfits."

Watch the 22 November 2016 telecast "Local non-profit helps the disadvantaged rejoin the workforce" here.

Our Volunteers

We're all about empowering women to achieve economic independence and are thankful for this very special group of people who help us do that.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and almost all corners of the world, but they all share our passion for the cause, giving their time and expertise so generously. As a solely volunteer-run organisation, we literally couldn't have done it without them!

As volunteers, we all know that we get back much more than we give. "It's a blessing to be alongside our clients as they take their next steps forward," said Stephanie Wong. Louise White added, "Working in a team of volunteers who share a common goal is inspiring and overwhelmingly rewarding."

At our annual volunteer appreciation event on 10 November 2016, we toasted our active volunteers in true Singapore style - with food! It was lovely catching up with friends and indulging in great local fare at social enterprise New Rasa Singapura. Here's to another wonderful year together!

100 Clients and Counting

It's almost a year since Dress for Success Singapore opened its doors to clients in September 2015. Founder & Director, Pang Li Kin shares an update on the programme. 

"Since we opened our doors to clients in September 2015, our Dress for Success Singapore programme has served over 100 clients!  This number is steadily climbing as word spreads and more women become aware of our service and the benefits of projecting their best at job interviews. Of this number, approximately half were referrals who received interview styling and employment styling services, while the rest attended grooming and styling workshops.

We appreciate the 19 referral agencies who are now on board to refer their beneficiaries to our interview coaching and styling sessions. The women we have served come from diverse backgrounds, are aged 20 to 50 years, have little to tertiary level education; are singles or mothers. But they all have one thing in common – they are unemployed and want to build a better future for themselves and their families.

The success of the programme has been made possible with the 35 volunteers we have, who provide interview coaching, styling and mentoring as well as operational and marketing support. Thank you to all our volunteers who have given not just time, but also love and passion in their service."

In The Cloud

Even a nonprofit should run like a modern and efficient business. We are grateful for the support of NetSuite, a leading Cloud ERP solutions provider and one of our first corporate partners, for helping us do that.

Thank you for introducing us to NetSuite Jenna!

NetSuite's integrated cloud-based business management solution made perfect sense to us as it would enable us to manage our business processes in a more standardised and efficient manner. 

 

In July 2015, we applied for a grant and were awarded a software donation from NetSuite.org. We were then able to tap on NetSuite's pro bono volunteer programme for help with its implementation. Jenna and NetSuite volunteers worked overtime to get it implemented and by October, the system was deployed and we were embarking on the first of several projects to tap its capabilities.

Today, our key business operations for Dress for Success Singapore -- client referrals, volunteer management and financial reporting – are integrated on one streamlined cloud-based application. We are now able to manage our databases better and generate reports quickly and accurately.

 

Jenna Nagy, Operations Director, elaborated, "NetSuite is a catalyst for positive change in any organisation run solely by volunteers as we are at Image Mission. By helping to define clear, streamlined business procedures, NetSuite has helped us cut down on tedious administrative tasks, allowing more time to be spent on our core mission.”

We are very grateful to all our corporate partners for their support. You enable us to focus on our mission to empower more women to achieve economic independence. Thank you!

Our Official Opening

Volunteers, clients, referral and corporate partners joined us to celebrate our official opening on 11 November 2015. The intimate event, held at our boutique, allowed us to showcase how our signature programme, Dress for Success® Singapore can help women in Singapore gain economic independence.

 

It also gave us the opportunity to show our appreciation to stakeholders who supported us in the start-up phase of the charity. At our Open House later that day, clients from referral agencies enjoyed complimentary styling and makeover sessions.

Dress for Success Singapore is now open!

We opened our doors ready to serve clients on 1 September 2105. More than 25 styling and coaching volunteers have been trained to date and our boutique is filling up with smart clothes suitable for interviews and employment. All of us at Image Mission are looking forward to reaching out and helping more women gain economic independence.