Jess Lee, Co-founder and CEO of Polyvore on transparency as an asset to being a tech leader


Jess Lee headshot


Straight out from college, tossing the cap and gown and heading into the workforce, college graduates face the real world with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come. When Jess Lee graduated from Stanford University, her first step was not the norm. She obtained her first job at the tech giant: Google as a product manager. After four years, she would leave and later become a co-founder and CEO of Polyvore, a fashion commerce site that provides users with the latest trends in fashion, beauty and home.

Jess recently sat down with Dress for Success to discuss her willingness to be open about her ideas and pursuit for a challenge, that has led her trajectory to the top.

As a product manager for Google, Jess worked on Google Maps, a web mapping service that offers satellite imagery, street maps and 360 panoramic views of streets. She launched features such as “My Maps” which gave users drawing tools and location pins so that they can create their own maps.

The work at Google provided Jess with great responsibility and a supportive network. It was where she met Marissa Mayer, presently CEO of Yahoo. Marissa served as a mentor to Jess, encouraging her to challenge herself, to seek opportunities that lead to growth.

“I was very happy working on Google Maps. I became Google Maps’ Program Manager at age 22. The work was fun, challenging and very rewarding. I wasn’t looking for a new job but a great opportunity fell in my lap that I felt I had to take,” said Jess. In her blog, “jessblog,” she said that leaving Google was a difficult decision.

Her next venture in the tech space would be Polyvore. Polyvore is known as the platform to find the latest in fashion trends. It has a global community of stylists that share tips on how to mix and match looks, in addition to predicting trends before they hit the mainstream. Through Polyvore, users can arrange images of clothing into outfits and sets of outfits.

Jess admired the platform as she often browsed through the site creating different sets of looks. However, Jess had some reservations. What could be implemented into the site to improve it? She sent a detailed email to the team at Polyvore with praise but also feedback about how to improve user experience of the site.  Her ideas included image rotation as opposed to loading images in the search results and adding a lightweight method of bookmarking items for future use.  She added that the terms “Fgnd” and “Bgnd” in the site should be changed to “Send to front” and “Send to back” because it was more user-friendly. The email of suggestions led to a coffee meeting with one of the co-founders, Pasha Sadri. After their coffee meeting, Jess was hired at Polyvore first as a product manager, all the ideas she had were put into place. From product manager, she went on to become the Vice President of Product. Soon after, Sadri along with all other company co-founders, asked her to be recognized as an honorary co-founder due to her continuous innovation and passion for the company.

“I knew I wanted to help build a platform for others to creatively express their style and set trends around the world. One of my favorite things about Polyvore is that we’ve built technology and a platform that’s similar to a blank canvas, all our members fill it with their creativity” says Jess.

As a co-founder and CEO, Jess describes her leadership style as transparent. She’s open, direct and encourages her employees to feel comfortable coming to her with ideas to make things better.

“It’s important to me to be an approachable leader. I want people to always feel comfortable coming to me with their ideas, and feel like they can tell me the hard truths, because I can only fix problems that I know about.”

Aside from leading a company, Jess has been invited to several high profile events often serving as the keynote speaker. She’s spoken at the San Francisco Technology Summit and the CMX Summit, the premier conference for tech founders. Though she admits she doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she’s often willing to offer advice and encouragement, especially for women. She proudly served as a keynote speaker at Montgomery Summit: The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur. By speaking at these events and through her experience in leadership, she wants to inspire women with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I’m not extroverted. I’m not male. I’m not white and my path to CEO was a bit unusual. So I think my success represents that there are a lot of different types of leaders and you can be a successful leader even if you don’t fit the classic mold of a CEO. I hope that inspires other people to try to start their own companies.”

Jess aspires to do more as Polyvore is well in demand with over 20 million monthly subscribers. Last year, Yahoo acquired the fashion site for around $200 million. Jess hopes to continue to use the platform to change the way trendsetting happens across the fashion industry. She also has great aspirations for her employees, that they go on and become founders too.

“We’ve already helped make a few founders and CEOs and it’d be great to see even more!”

Spring Into Work With a New Wardrobe

After one of the coldest winters on record, we’re all ready to shed the black and reemerge to welcome warmer weather with colorful cardigans.  Spring is known to many in the fashion world as the perfect union of office chic and out-of-office casual. Meaning it’s the best time of year for you to mix and match your wardrobe for both work and play.

To prepare for this glorious revival of color and shape in our closets, we wanted to find work-appropriate wear that instills confidence without compromising style. Knowing that many hardworking women share our spring fever, we teamed up with Talbots to kick off an empowering season of success and style. Which is why from now until March 22nd you can make a monetary donation to Dress for Success at any of their nearly 500 locations across the United States and Canada.

At Talbots, they understand work wear should make you feel powerful and still maintain a stylish edge. Known for their quality and classic pieces, Talbots recently rolled out their new spring line dabbling in powder pinks, fuchsias and peaches with a few bold reds and greens that transition seamlessly between seasons.

To help us showcase some inspiring looks, we brought along Dress for Success client, Addie, who made interview attire look effortless and enchanting. Previously working in medical research, Addie has a degree in biology as well as experience in real estate. She took some time off her job hunt to meet us and the Talbots team at the Madison Avenue store in NYC. After fawning over some accessories we’ve missed all winter, hello Jackie O shades (see below), we settled on four different outfits that would ace any interview, meeting or even casual work day.  Warning: Outfits may inspire feelings of warmth and happiness, and require you make a change in your shade of blues.

Our always stylish client, Addie, meeting Talbots store manager, Tim, before the shoot.

Just browsing the four-story Madison Avenue store and falling in love with the sleeveless blouse-blazer combinations…

This Navy Avanos Suit coat and matching pants (Dress for Success nickname: the approachable power suit) are complemented by the Veria Striped Shirt, in sugar coral, adding a pop of color to brighten the look. The white block-collar allows Addie to stand out to employers while maintaining an overall professional profile.

Dress for Success Tip: Tuck the striped shirt in for a more polished look, perfect for a meeting or an interview.

This Wispy Floral Pencil Skirt and Pointelle Cardigan is the ultimate spring office wear. Two looks in one, the sea lily colored cardigan complements the floral skirt and gives off a vibrant but sophisticated look that’s suitable for any day at the office. For a more high-profile meeting or second-round interview, easily remove the cardigan and the Wrinkle-Resistant Poplin Shirt showcases a crisp, sleek appearance that elevates the look from casual office wear to polished power woman.  Our favorite accent? The Pippa Patent Leather Kitten-Heel Pumps give you a little extra height, but are comfortable enough for all-day wear. For a quick switch, pair these heels with pants for a night out or dinner after work.

Dress for Success Tip: Adding a necklace pulls out the floral pattern in this pencil skirt and gives you a chance to add even more charisma to the ensemble.

Once you’ve got the job, this Status Chain-Links Dress, a play on the versatile wrap dress, is wearable for almost any occasion, including your 9-5. The white and black pattern complements any skin tone and three-quarter sleeves (our favorite detail) are the perfect compromise for spring.

We paired it with the Navy Anos Suit jacket from Addie’s first look to show how you can mix and match outfits without compromising style or professionalism. The suit coat breaks up the patterned dress, giving it a little extra edge. Or, top it off with the Botanical Flowers Scarf  for a softer look. Hint: the peach and powder gray-blue tones are a guaranteed mood-booster for spring.

You’re guaranteed to make a statement with this Gladiola-Print Sateen Dress. The A-line, pleated cut flatters any body type and is appropriate for most offices.  For those that may be a little more conservative, simply throw on a shrug  (we recommend the Cameo Pink).

Dress for Success Tip: Pair with the Leather Bucket Bag in Buff, the shade is completely neutral and will work with any spring outfit. Better yet, it’s large enough to fit a portfolio, make-up bag, deodorant, Tide to go and all your other work and interview essentials.

And what can we say? After you’re new wardrobe from Talbots you feel like Jackie O. But seriously, the sunglasses are named Jackie O.

Turn Obstacles into Opportunities with UN Women’s Lakshmi Puri

UN Women and Lakshmi Puri are amplifying voices of the women’s movement and leading a worldwide quest for equality and empowerment.

 Since 2010, Lakshmi has traveled the world to speak for women who cannot speak for themselves, turning obstacles of social progress into opportunities for global change. Tackling universal issues like poverty, violence and unemployment head-on is all in a day’s work for UN Women’s Acting Head, but Lakshmi’s remarkable career and inspiring story still carry a meaningful message for the everyday woman. This month, Lakshmi Puri spoke with Dress for Success about how economic independence is more than a personal goal—it’s a global movement—and why sometimes standing on your own two feet means leaning on others for guidance and support.

Named after the Hindu goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi grew up in an Indian culture that worshipped women in the temple, but turned a blind eye to their poverty in the streets. “Particularly in Asian cultures, there are contradictions in the way women are regarded. On the one hand, there is a deification of women as powerful goddesses. But, at the same time, religion, culture and tradition are interpreted to strengthen patriarchy.”

Lakshmi knew she was destined for more than a life of dependency on a man, setting her heart on self-sufficiency from an early age. Soon, the freedom of her nation became the independence of her people and Lakshmi witnessed a momentous era of progress for women first-hand. “I belonged to a generation of women who, after the independence of India, went into the professions with a completely different perspective on gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

For Lakshmi, pursuing a professional career meant embarking on a journey to independence on the road less traveled. So, she looked for direction from the greatest support network of all—her family. “My family was very empowering. We were all girls, three sisters, and each one of us chose a different career path, but my father and mother were both very clear that we should have a life, identity and career of our own.”

By the age of 21, Lakshmi’s strong family foundation had helped her childhood dreams evolve into a flourishing career as she began working with the diplomatic service. And when the opportunity to work with the UN came along, Lakshmi jumped at the chance and joined the Indian delegation to the Commission on Human Rights in 1981. Finally, in 2002, the hardworking diplomat joined the UN as an international civil servant and climbed the professional ladder to become Assistant Secretary General and one of the most influential women in the world.

But even though Lakshmi’s career took off with an international leap, she still packed her small town values in the pocket of her power suit before she left the ground. Lakshmi was determined to help women around the world pull themselves up by lending them a helping hand and, in the last three years, she’s been working around the clock so that one day all young girls will have the resources to turn their most challenging barriers into windows of opportunity for success.  

My work with the UN really shaped my whole perspective on the gender equality issue globally. Advocating for women’s empowerment is a big challenge, but also a big opportunity. We have made great gains, but there is still much to do, especially in ending violence against women. We at UN Women are addressing all of these issues.”

And no one knows women’s issues like Lakshmi. The meaning of independence may change across cultures, but women in every corner of the Earth need guidance and encouragement to thrive in life. If there’s one thing Lakshmi’s learned throughout her world travels, it’s that there are certain freedoms that all women simply cannot live without.

“As I travel from Africa to Asia to Latin America and the West, I find that there are basic rights all women want and need– the right to live a life free from violence, the right to an education, the right to be able to choose how many children they bear and educate those children, the right to see a doctor. All of these rights are common aspirations for women everywhere.”

Just as Dress for Success believes in women helping women, Lakshmi believes in bringing people together to build a structure of support for their empowerment. Just last March, at the Commission on the Status of Women, governments adopted a historic agreement on ending violence against women. With the support of UN Women and thousands of civil society members, local voices were brought to an international level.

Now, Lakshmi wants every woman’s voice to be heard in the fight for a brighter and more prosperous future for generations to come. So, where do you fit in? Just remember those two magical words: economic independence. As a Dress for Success supporter, you’ve probably heard us say this phrase a thousand times—truth is, it’s become as much a part of our slogan as our beloved “Going Places. Going Strong.”—but what you didn’t know is that this powerful word set has become the motto of organizations the world over, including UN Women.

“Economic independence is key, and it’s all about access to resources – natural, productive, financial, skill-building, and social—and essential services like health, education, transportation and decent work. Economic empowerment for women is essential to their ability to resist violence, benefit from education, pursue further skill development and training, participate in politics and become leaders in the corporate sector.”

So, what’s next for Lakshmi and UN Women? With the next generation of anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals to work towards for the next several years and plenty of hurdles still left to clear on the track to success, their work is far from over. “We hope through Dress for Success that we can send a message to women and men who want to support women and girls’ empowerment around the world.”

Lakshmi may lead UN women on a global scale, but she still knows a thing or two about individual success. Here are three tips inspired by Lakshmi’s words of wisdom to help you get your career off the ground.

1. Know what you want, and go after it! Lakshmi thought she wanted to be a doctor, but sidetracked into humanities and history instead and found her passion for diplomacy. Sometimes our career dreams change, and we can’t be afraid to follow them!

2. Make your voice heard. Lakshmi’s global work teaches us that many women struggle for the right to choose the life they want to live, but they fight to make their voices heard. Don’t let someone else dictate your success.

3. Break the glass ceiling. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important for women to take their careers to new heights with leadership positions and well-paying jobs. Don’t worry, women like Lakshmi have already started to pave the way!

Book Shelf: Leslie Bennetts’s “The Feminine Mistake”

Today’s modern woman is all about independence. She breaks out her own toolbox to fix a leaky faucet, enjoys alone time with her favorite book every Sunday afternoon, and shops for polished power suits with her own paycheck. She’s the ultimate multitasker and a juggling expert, because these days women can have their cake and eat it too.

So, if women are aspiring to have it all, why are more and more female professionals giving up their careers and relying on their husbands to foot the bill? Why are so many women making the classic “Feminine Mistake”? Leslie Bennetts is on a mission to find out, and remind women everywhere that independence is more than a luxury—it’s a necessity—and every woman deserves to know the real reason why.

In “The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?”, Leslie challenges women to take their independence all the way to the bank and take responsibility for their futures. Talking with real women about their personal experiences of making the feminine mistake – choosing a lifestyle of economic dependency—she gets to the bottom of why a man is not a financial plan.

Leslie’s candid interviews and hard-hitting facts pack a powerful punch and a valuable lesson that women of all ages can take to heart, and Dress for Success believes in her message. “The Feminine Mistake” tells women that becoming economically independent is the first step on their journey to success, and that having a family and a career can be one of the most rewarding milestones along the way.

The Success Diaries: Ceci Johnson

Dear Ceci Johnson, “The Big Dreamer,”

As you fantasize about what it would be like to start your own business and dream about what that path would possibly look like if you became your own boss, allow me to help shed some light on what that big unknown could be like for you. While everyone’s road is unique, here is a glimpse into what the world of entrepreneur could be like. I want to share with you the best business advice I’ve learned along the way that you can apply to your own experience on your road to success.

The first and most important step is don’t let the one thing that prevents most people from taking the leap get in your way: Fear. I’m a firm believer in the saying “you never know until you try.” And if you don’t try, how will you know? So let’s face your fears and get started!

First, you’re wondering what that road will look like, right? Will you even like it? Well, one of the major things I’ve learned is that success doesn’t happen overnight. I truly thought that if I launched a beautiful website, everyone would hire me and I’d be so successful. Well that didn’t entirely work. I quickly learned that’s only ONE piece of the big puzzle.

I thought success looked like a straight line that only went up. But in reality, success looks more like a roller coaster, complete with ups and downs and wild curves and swerves. You have to weather the ride and keep standing strong through it all, no matter what.

Starting your own business means a commitment to never giving up and pledging your life to a thing called dedication and persistence. You are going to get on a ride that will be exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It will be challenging, exciting, addicting, and tiring – but most of all rewarding. This incredible fulfillment will keep you getting out of bed each morning to keep on going. My husband once told me that starting a business is equivalent to pushing the heaviest boulder up a steep hill. I always remember this and I think when times get tough, I have to keep pushing and not let go. Otherwise, the boulder may roll backwards and crush me, taking with it all my hard work. Do not let that happen!

When you start down this road, never lose sight of your original vision – the dream that started it all. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t let anything distract you. The more you grow, the more exposure you will get, be aware that more people will want something from you (often for free). Because of your nature, you may then want to help, but just remember, “Love doesn’t pay the bills”. Align your in-kind donations and charitable efforts with those opportunities that make sense for your brand and give you the most ROI (return on investment).

Always protect your brand and know that it’s OK to say no. Politely declining jobs that aren’t the right fit will be the best thing you could ever do for your business. Accept the fact early on that you can’t be everything to everyone. You are not a commodity.

If you want to build a luxury brand, don’t say yes to DIY clients, they will only be a time-suck and keep you from working towards your dreams and achieving your goals. Take a moment to ask yourself, will this really help my future goals? Is this worth my time? If you answer no, then politely decline and feel 100% confident in your decision because you’re working towards something bigger than that! Your laser-sharp focus will reap you bigger returns in the long run, trust me.

Always do your homework and understand your competitive landscape before you start, especially when it comes to pricing. Record how much time you really spend on your work. Put a fair price on your hourly rate from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to raise your prices because you are worth it. If you don’t think you are worth this, then how will your customers? Know your value and always stand behind it.


When times get tough (and they definitely will) remember to take a step back and utilize the power of the number 24:

“Your hardest day only lasts 24 hours.” – Charles D. Hoffman
Give it the old 24 hour rule.

Responding emotionally in business never gets you very far. So it is best to utilize the 24 hour rule. Take some time to think things through, settle down and get your facts straight. Taking care of the situation first thing in the morning versus the night before (when your upset customer is calling you screaming at 9pm), is more productive and equally effective. Remember not to take things personally whenever you can – especially when it comes to your business. Now, I don’t mean you shouldn’t have emotion or passion in your work, I’m saying that there will always be challenges (and challenging customers) and when you take them personally, you are letting your emotions get in the way. Just remember it’s not personal. It’s just business. Solve the problem with a rational mind not an emotional one and you’ll be on the right track.

Embrace that you will be working a ton of hours like never before. Being your own boss doesn’t mean a free ride to fancy lunches and days on the golf course while everyone else does all the work for you. It’s entirely up to you and your determination to accomplish the level of success you dream about. You have to be ok with giving up your social life in the beginning and know that you might have an occasional melt-down on Friday nights (or any night for that matter) when your business isn’t going the way you had thought it would. Instead of drinking cocktails with your friends like you used to, you may be stuck at your computer working on a deadline. Working late nights might become the norm and waking up at 3 a.m. when inspiration strikes may occur frequently (keep a note pad handy).

Know that this dedication will pay off in the long run. Even though you feel totally alone, as you are emotionally at your low and wondering to yourself, is this all worth it? Just comfort yourself and remember if it was easy, then everyone would be doing it. It’s a special group of individuals that have the entrepreneurial gene. And you are going to make the world a better place, one step at a time.

As your business grows, you will find yourself in great demand and your ability to multi-task and wear many hats may start to become very difficult to juggle and sustain at the speed you desire. Acknowledge that you are only one person and the demands you are putting on yourself are not right for one single person to handle. It’s either time to hire or scale back.

As you wonder, “should I hire an employee to help?” consider this golden advice, “when you hire a person, you hire a problem.” Everybody comes to the table with their own issues and requirements that you now have to deal with.  You must dedicate extra time to work with them and manage them clearly. You can’t expect to hire someone and for them to automatically be perfect, require no training or management and just know exactly how your mind thinks. This takes a lot of time management and time away from what your original passion was. Setting clear expectations and planning ahead will be your saving grace. Be sure to take time to think and create mindful systems that work for all parties. This initial time you take to do this for your business will be the foundation for how you set yourself up for growth in the future.

Consistently listen, crave feedback and ask the best question in life – “Why?” I always say that curious minds are the smarter minds. Understanding why is everything in business. You will go far if you continually ask why.

Don’t be afraid of failure. I always am mindful of these helpful words of a good friend, Simon T. Bailey, “Failure isn’t final. It’s only feedback. And feedback is the breakfast of champions.” When you are open and listen to feedback and then apply that feedback to your business, you are continually improving. Once you think you are at the top and start to check out, you’re irrelevant. Someone new will pop up and steal the spotlight from you. You must never give up and keep on refining your company as you go. Continually evolve. Improve. Reinvent and innovate in all you do.

Keep your focus, drive and determination strong and it will bring you success. But above all, don’t let all this success get the best of you. Check your ego at the door. Be humble. Be kind. Be grateful. Be respectful. Never forget where you came from and those that helped you along the way. And most importantly never be too busy to say thank you.

Still dreaming big,
Ceci Johnson (10 years later)

P.S. My biggest mentor was my father, Charles D. Hoffman. Below is a cheat sheet of all his best quotes that I hope will inspire you along your way. Print it out and put it somewhere where you can be reminded of it daily. Hope his words of wisdom help you as they have me.


Ceci Johnson, Founder & Creative Director of Ceci New York 

Ceci New York is a couture invitation studio that is considered the industry trendsetter and tastemaker, spanning not only the worlds of weddings but also events, corporate branding and other fine paper goods. At the helm is celebrated artist, designer and visual stylist Ceci Johnson who brings the ultimate in luxury branding to clients around the globe. In addition to her highly regarded design house, Ceci’s online lifestyle and fashion magazine,, has fast become one of the leading resources for the discerning bride. See more at


June: Tie the Knot with Your Career!

During the month of June, Dress for Success joins the world in celebrating marriage!

While the tradition of June weddings dates back more than 2,000 years, it is not the bridal-bliss type of marriage that Dress for Success is now honoring. During this sixth month of the year, we encourage our women to marry their personal passions to their professional dreams and create a life-long career that they will love!

That is why I am thrilled to present our exclusive interview with the iconic Sylvia Weinstock, whose passion for baking led her to build a sweet empire that today represents the pinnacle of confectionary luxe. Also this month, we’ll hear from a small business owner who found her passion for affordable wedding planning later in life, but didn’t let “cold feet” stop her from saying “I Do” to her entrepreneurial dream.

Wedding puns aside, it truly warms my heart to bring you this issue of the Dress for Success Blog. As CEO of this organization, I have the privilege of going to a job everyday that I absolutely love. The joy and fulfillment that my career brings me is a gift that I hope every woman will give to herself. When we do what we love, we are more willing to do it with excellence, enthusiasm, and endless energy. That alone may be the greatest proof point for my belief that love is the universal key to success.

As you read through the posts in this edition of our blog, I encourage you to search your soul and find the type of work that would lead you to your professional bliss.

Close your eyes, open your heart, and listen closely to your spirit. If you hear your personal passion whispering “Will you marry me?” I hope that your professional goals will enthusiastically answer, “YES!”





Joi Gordon is the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide

The Success Diaries: Gina Bianchini

Dear Pre-Launch Gina,

Gina, take a deep breath.

You have woken up at 4 am every morning in terror, consumed by all of the things that could go wrong. However, after a few minutes facing your greatest fears, you slowly wake up and remember, ah, yes, this part sucks.

Like you do every other morning, you choose to power through and, by the time the sun is up, your excitement and curiosity about Mightybell – and the need for a beautiful collaboration space for friends, families and colleagues – outweighs your fear.

You jump out of bed excited to tackle the list of things you are going to do today. You know that you do your best work when you focus on the things within your control. Defining success externally has only ever gotten you into trouble.

You want to put Mightybell out quietly and hope that people discover it and like it. Then you realize that is a really terrible plan. The world doesn’t work that way. Even the most amazing products in the world – take the iPhone and the iPad as examples – benefited from a strong advocate.

You are going to have to do the same for Mightybell.

Creating the product is the easy part. When you are creating, you get to live in the happy fantasy that everyone will get it and love it immediately. I have never known anyone who prior to launch believes anything other than they have a massive hit on their hands.

You aren’t yet at the hard part of putting it out there, selling it and hearing people tell you they don’t need it, they are busy or they don’t get it. That part is always harder than you think it would be.

Yet, you will make it through that part as well. That is where you distinguish yourself from the pack.

Resilience. You have it. With it comes a commitment to never, ever giving up. You will fight through the pain and keep going. Resilience was always there but choosing sports and choosing to make a strong effort in school helped prepare you for this moment. Choosing the harder paths when you had a choice made it easier to weather the storms outside of your control– like Dad dying suddenly in a car accident when you were 11.

Sometimes, the will to keep going will be enough. Other times, staring failure in the face and choosing to keep moving forward despite the risks will make the difference. At this point, you have quite a portfolio of techniques to move past the fear to optimism, excitement, and the possibilities that come with each new product, feature and conversation about Mightybell.

It isn’t always easy. In fact, it rarely is. But the confidence that comes with choosing to break past the fear and do it anyways is priceless.

Keep going.


Launched and Running Gina



As the co-founder and former CEO of Ning,  Gina Bianchini has been a leader and innovator in social media for nearly a decade. Today, Gina serves as the founder and CEO of Mightybell, the online community where you can create groups with friends around what interests you. 

April: Beauty, Butterflies, & Transformation!

April is my favorite time of year!

During the month of April, Dress for Success Worldwide celebrates the transformation of our women at our annual Something to Share Gala.

For this special event, our women get glammed up with the help of Bobbi Brown CosmeticsDavid Meister, and lia sophia.  I love to see them sparkle on this occasion, because the beauty which they exude on the outside is truly a manifestation of the beauty that they have discovered on the inside.

During the month of April, buds become flowers, caterpillars become butterflies, and women rich with potential become women overflowing with power.

Speaking of power, this month’s featured Power Woman is on a mission to transform the plight of women in business. Sheryl Sandberg, the celebrated COO of Facebook, now adds author to her résumé as she publishes her new working woman’s manifesto, “Lean In.”

Dress for Success had the privilege of speaking with Sheryl about her mission to get women to come together in support of one another’s individual and collective success. After learning more about her “Lean In” philosophy, and talking to her about our longstanding Professional Women’s Group (PWG), we soon realized that the women of Dress for Success have been leaning in for years! Now isn’t that Something to Share?!

April is the month of transformation and today I celebrate the transformation of YOU!

Whether you are at the beginning, in the middle, or nearing the end of your journey, know that I, along with the full family of  Dress for Success, believe in you!





Joi Gordon is the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide 

Leaning in with Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is leading the working women’s revolution and shattering the glass ceiling.

As the token obstacle for women in the workplace, all of us have heard of the glass ceiling, and a few of us have even broken through it.  You know what I’m talking about. In male-dominated fields, there’s this unspoken rule that only select women get to squeeze through the cracks of corporate America and hang with the boys. In the worlds of technology, finance and politics, just to name a few, men seem to rule the workplace.

Facebook COO and power woman Sheryl Sandberg knows that there’s only one solution to this dilemma, and she’s shouting it from the rooftops: We need more female leaders in the workforce! So polish up your resume and break out your power suit, because Sheryl is calling on you to help her lead the charge.

Sheryl may have broken through the glass ceiling a long time ago, but she’s far from content sitting in her cozy California office. With so few women leading today’s major companies, it can be lonely at the top, so she’s giving you the secrets to her success in her groundbreaking new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” This month, she spoke with Dress for Success about the revolutionary message of “Lean In” and where exactly you fit in.

Just a few weeks after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Sheryl came into the world destined to take one giant leap for womankind. Graduating with a degree in economics from Harvard University in 1991 and later earning her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1995, Sheryl skyrocketed past her male classmates to climb the corporate ladder.

In 1996, Sheryl served as the Chief of Staff to then U.S. Secretary of State, Larry Summers, a former professor of hers at Harvard University. After four years in the White House, Sheryl joined Google, Inc., working as their vice-president of global online sales and operations. Finally, Sheryl teamed up with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the company’s new Chief Operating Officer in 2008, landing her on Forbes’ list of the top 100 women who run the world.

Today, “Lean In” is inspiring women everywhere to be their own boss and call the shots in their career. Since its release, more people than ever are talking about whether men in the workplace are truly recognizing a woman’s worth, but not everyone thinks the way we do business needs to change. After all, women started working outside of the home long before Rosie the Riveter said, ‘we can do it!’ So, do we really have anything left to achieve? Dress for Success certainly thinks so, and Sheryl is inclined to agree.

“I admire Dress for Success’ Professional Women’s Group (PWG) program. The goals of Dress for Success and ‘Lean In’ are well aligned given our shared interest in offering women encouragement and support to build thriving careers.”

Just as our Professional Women’s Group gives the fierce female professional the guidance she needs on her journey to success, the messages of “Lean In” apply to women looking for their big break in any field. “I believe the messages in ‘Lean In’ are universal. Women need to own the power they have, learn how to negotiate for raises, and get the pay they deserve,” Sheryl told us.

Not only is Sheryl giving women the tools to start their careers off on a strong note, but she’s also giving them her full support. Through Lean In Circles, women can create a group of 8 to 10 friends who they’d like to join them on their path to personal and professional growth. Circles give women a chance to network and bond with each other about the tough obstacles they may face, amazing accomplishments they’ve made, and all the priceless lessons they’ve learned along the way.

“Circles are small groups that meet regularly to share and learn together. Lean In provides an online space that makes it easy for your Circle to get organized and stay connected. I encourage you to make your circle your own and decide what works best for you. All Circles are motivated by the idea that we often achieve more in groups than we do as individuals.”

Circles are a great way to connect with other women who are on the hunt for the perfect job, looking for that extra boost to jumpstart their career, or simply wanting to reach out to fellow women in need of a helping hand.

Sheryl explains that “Lean In Circles can benefit women of every background and stage of their career. It is an opportunity for women to come together in small groups to share stories and discuss topics to help you achieve your own goals. Connections built on trust and the value of meeting, sharing and learning transcend socioeconomic barriers and can help all women move toward more fulfilling careers.”

And, more fulfilling careers lead to more meaningful lives. But, how do we get there? LeanIn.Org wants to help you every step of the way. The website not only gives women the support of their own Circle, but also the inspiration, education, and expert advice we’ve been searching for ever since we first heard that cherished lyric: “anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.”

As a wife, mother, and one of the most influential people in the world, Sheryl is redefining the work experience for every woman, challenging us to lean in to our ambitions with full force, and reaching out to women like you to put an end to the man cave in the workplace. Through international organizations like Dress for Success and Lean In.Org, we’re reminded that, while many women struggle to overcome life’s obstacles alone, together we can get back on our feet and affect change not only in our careers, but in the world in which we live.

For more on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” check out our Book Shelf column or visit the Lean In website!