Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How Dress for Success inspired me in Miami

This July, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a delegate of Dress for Success Vancouver's Professional Women's Group (PWG) for the 9th annual Success Summit. It is a Dress For Success Leadership Conference for women, hosted by Kimpton Hotels in Miami, Florida. I had the privilege of meeting other delegates from Dress For Success branches around the world, who will all be leading their groups in creating community action projects (CAP) over the next year in their respective locations.

Genevieve Sechter, PWG Member
When I first arrived in Miami, I marveled at how surreal it all seemed. Friday morning I put on the suit that I had been fitted into for a special photo shoot. Tiger lily in hand I headed to the studio. My curls were styled by RedKen, and Bobbi Brown made sure my face was camera ready. I was relieved to hear one of the staff say, “This lily really stands out in this conference room.” I wondered if she knew it represented my soul. Either way God and I both knew I needed to hear that. The photographer was absolutely amazing. All of this was for the first ever Dress for Success coffee table book, “Threads” being created by co:collective in New York. It will weave together the stories of several women who ended up at the doors of Dress for Success. It is expected to be released in December and I am curious to see how it all comes together.

Over the next couple of days, we got to hear from a host of inspirational women, including two of the delegates with the most successful projects from last year. They shared their journeys, triumphs, struggles and general project models with us. It was very inspiring. What struck me the most was that anytime something is really worthwhile you are going to want to quit. You and people around you are going to come up with so many reasons why something is not possible, but that does not need to stop you. In simple terms, it was said, “You are going to want to quit. Don't.” These delegates were the most surprised by themselves and how willing people were to help them when they asked.

By the end of the weekend I definitely had one of those, “If I knew then what I know now” perspectives. All of my concerns walking into the weekend were completely unnecessary. I was the right lady for this. I belonged. I could do it. Knowing you are not alone is a powerful thing. I was affirmed and validated again and again by the speakers, the delegates and the coordinators. As they shared their stories I certainly did pick out threads of mine and shared the mutual shock with other delegates who said, “It was like she was telling my story.” One of the most important things I took away was that anything is possible, we do not need to be defined by our present or past circumstances. I've always believed that, but it was a different thing when I was in a room full of women who are at different places on that very journey, and many of them have been right in my shoes at one time or another.

My CAP is an embryo right now, but here's what I know. I want to use the arts to bring healing and celebration to people. This could take many different forms, including a one day event with follow up, a weekend, or a 12 week evening program. My first step will be to launch a vision for my PWG and get their feedback. Once I have a team on board we can brainstorm the details, secure resources and get started! My initial decisions will involve which community of people to offer this gift to, whether to partner with an organization(s) or whether to secure required components independently, as well as which parts to handle myself and what to delegate. I chose this topic because the arts have been an integral part of my personal journey of healing, starting with acting and dancing roles in biblical plays as a young teenager, and painting and poetry in my later teen years. Through art, going deep can seem like playing, and sometimes it is. If you are an artist that would like to contribute a workshop or if you have a space that you would be willing to donate or any other ideas to offer, please comment below or find me on Facebook and send me a message.

Genevieve Sechter
PWG Member
Dress for Success Vancouver


  1. You, Genevieve Sechter, are a huge asset to Dress for Success and the Professional Women's Group. Your enthusiasm truly shines through.

    I, too, was a CAP leader and the experience was truly life changing.

    Good luck with your project; continued success in your evolution.

    Best Regards,
    Eloise Lloyd

  2. I fully support you in your journey, Genevieve.

  3. Genevieve Sechter, Vancouver Delegate and CAP Leader is featured in a new coffee table book - just released!

    "Threads is the first endeavor of its kind by Dress for Success Worldwide and features the firsthand success journeys of 20 women from around the world. Inspiring original imagery from world-renowned photographer Danielle Levitt provides a pictorial peek into the personality of each woman, complementing each of their personal “threads” while highlighting the bonds between them.

    Dress for Success curated the stories of these particular 20 confident and courageous women for this coffee table book because they came to the organization in a time of need but have transformed into leaders. Combined, their threads form a fabric of support, of women helping women, of shared challenges and achievements." ~DFS Website

    Threads is now available for purchase for $40 USD by contacting Some will likely be available through the Vancouver Dress For Success branch in the new year.