Meet Toby Dickson, President of Traxion Communications, who has been a Dress for Success Worldwide Volunteer for the past four years.
DFS: What drew you to Dress for Success and why did you want to be part of the organization?
TD: I had been involved on the corporate side for many years through suit drives and other events; after I stopped working in the corporate world, I wanted to continue the affiliation in a more personal and meaningful capacity. Plus, after many years in financial services, it was nice to bring the fashionista side of me out in the open.
DFS: Can you describe the specific volunteer work you do at DFS?
TD: I act as personal stylist and also counsel women on interview preparation and job readiness. In the past I’ve helped on new volunteer orientation and I hope to teach a financial literacy module in the future.
DFS: Tell us a story of a client you served that stands out in your mind and that you are especially proud of? How did she impact you?
TD: There was a fabulous leopard-print coat that my client tried on and though she looked terrific in it, she didn’t want to accept it saying things like “it’s too good for me,” and “I have no place to wear it.” It was disheartening that she thought she was unworthy of such a nice garment, but after my teammates and I convinced her otherwise, she began crying tears of happiness for indeed it was the nicest thing she ever owned and she was raring to show it off! This was a lesson in how important it is to consider how a client both looks and feels when she’s looking in that mirror.
DFS: Describe some of the feelings you have when you are working with a client and seeing that transformation first hand.
TD: When you see your client smile at her reflection, maybe twirl a little in her new clothes…. It’s extremely gratifying.
DFS: What is the best part of being associated with DFS?
TD: You are part of a great cause but more important, impact someone’s life one-on-one. I also look forward to Mondays – my shift day – since the people I work with get along o great together and we all enjoy catching up.
DFS: How has Dress for Success impacted your life?
TD: Besides me asking everyone I know to donate clothes to DFS, I’ve met a lot of nice people in the office – co-workers and clients alike. Volunteering has also given me a wider lens on the varied circumstances people find themselves in throughout life, while hitting home on the fact that no matter who you are, wearing a new outfit you feel good in, will always give you a lift.
DFS: Do you feel you are making an impact by volunteering at DFS? How?
TD: I know I am each time a client walks out the door happier than when she came in. And it’s not just the clothes; I feel that I can impart to each client that little nugget of work/life advice that might make a difference in her future.
DFS: What is your best advice to give to other volunteers?
TD: Though it’s sometimes hard to put together that “right” outfit, I’ve never had a client walk out the door empty handed. Ask for help when needed; there is a lot of stock in the store at any one time, and that perfect blouse, dress or skirt might be the one your co-worker just put back on a hanger. Also, go at your client’s pace; though someone may come in insisting they would never wear a dress, sometimes it’s because they’ve infrequently worn one, and just need to get comfortable with the idea before they’ll even try.