Thursday, July 31, 2014

California Closets Vancouver: Grand Opening for a Cause!

On Thursday, June 26, California Closets opened its newest showroom location on Granville Street and threw a grand opening event complete with wine tasting, signature cocktails, and canap├ęs. Tara McGuire, a long-time broadcaster and radio personality, hosted the night as attendees mingled and browsed California Closets’ displays.
California Closets is an innovative home design and storage space optimization business that originated in the United States. Today, the Vancouver and Burnaby franchises are run by Stephan Maingot, John Duffield, and Claudia Duffield, who work together to improve clients’ lives through the beautiful and functional items that they create. You can see their latest designs up close by visiting their newest show room at 2421 Granville St., Vancouver. 

During the event, California Closets hosted a silent auction that raised an exciting $3770 towards Dress for Success Vancouver! At $360/year to put one woman through our suite of programs, a donation of this size can support 10.47 women. Attendees were also encouraged to bring gently-used handbags that were to be donated to Dress for Success Vancouver, which we very much appreciated! 

Thank you California Closets for your support, and congratulations on your new location!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Insider Profile: Deepika Gupta, A Life Story of Triumph

“Fight it out. There’s no other way out. Unless you go through tough times, you never know what you’re capable of” says Deepika Gupta, echoing the mantra that carried her through her own hardships. Born in India, in a male dominated community with few regards for female empowerment, Deepika was constrained by centuries of deep-rooted societal views and unbreakable traditions.

With determination in the face of adversity and betrayal, she defied all expectation to overcome insurmountable odds with only the tenacious belief that she could. Deepika shares how the trials & tribulations of her life have shaped her as a person, and what Dress For Success Vancouver means to her.

Tell me a little bit about your life.
I grew up with a lavish life as a kid but I wasn’t allowed to get an education. This was a trend in my society. Women could get married early and accompany their husbands, but my father wanted me to study. So I did my masters in finance, but everyone in my family was upset. I grew up in a very conservative family where no one supported my dreams. Neither my mother or brothers supported me, only my father was very supportive of me. Every dream I had he wanted it to become a reality.

How did your father shape you as a person?
My father constantly talked about what life should be like, how a person should be, how your behaviours impact society. The greatest lesson he gave me was “get the treasure of education. You never know when adversity will hit. You never know when life will go wrong. If you ever pay hard times, education pays off. It’s the only thing that people can’t steal.”

What was the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your life?
I got married at 24 to a businessman and continued enjoying a comfortable life. Then my father passed and I lost my lucky charm, nothing went right after that. When my husband’s business collapsed, I was a few months pregnant and homeless. I had grown up in a luxurious life where everything was abundant, it was very hard to cope. I hadn’t worked for years, I was shy now and I fell into depression.

When the baby was born, I didn’t have enough money to pay for medical expenses. I had a different challenge now, I had a kid and had to take care of him. I couldn’t go back to my family for help so I had to take up a job which is unheard of because I grew up in the business class. “People were complaining to my family, saying I was bringing disgrace to my family.”

Soon, I was the single breadwinner for my husband and his family. I wanted to start up a home business to take care of my son. Since my husband’s family helped with the business, I took them into my home because I wanted to stay together. “When you go through a tough spot, it’s easier to face adversity together.”

However, when the business began to flourish, my husband’s family got together and pushed us out of the business. They said “you can move out now.” I felt betrayed, again I was homeless and had a toddler to support.

What was the most challenging part of this?
Holding your own self. Believing in yourself even after every challenge, getting up again and saying “I can do this.” I had no one to turn to, or to tell. It’s difficult when you have to start from scratch, from nothing. It’s so difficult when you have a kid and a family but no one supports you.

How did you get involved with Dress for Success Vancouver?
I was referred twice through Job options and Langara College. Then I joined the Professional Women’s Group (PWG) program.

What’s the biggest impact you’ve experienced from Dress for Success Vancouver?
The sense of belonging that comes. Moving overseas is a big thing. When people move to a new community, you need someone to sooth your soul there. It becomes difficult to adjust to new culture. When you’re falling short of funds, you just need a single friendly hand - Dress for Success Vancouver was that.

They pamper you and make you feel great. I never heard of something like that before, where people would take care of your and make you feel loved. “It’s not just clothing or guidance, there’s so many things that they support. You feel loved and cared for and then you start feeling like you belong to society.”

The service leads to raised moral, higher confidence and emotional fulfillment. Dress for Success Vancouver empowered me, they gave me the confidence to follow my dreams.

How has The Professional Women’s Group (PWG) impacted your life?
Meeting people that I would love to connect with. I’ve developed many friendships and I feel like I can connect with so many people because our lives match. It’s difficult to make people understand what you’re trying to express if they’ve never been in your shoes. Everyone at Dress for Success Vancouver and PWG just understands our situation. With PWG, i’m building a community, friends and family.

The first time I shared my story with PWG I was afraid that no one would understand it. But when I finally expressed myself and they understood, I could finally relax.

Where are you now?
I’m working as an administrative assistant at an engineering company.

Where do you see yourself in the future?
I feel like it’s high time now to start my dreams and get my business started. I want to work for female wellness and contribute to society. That’s my mandate. When you get mental wellness, it boosts emotional wellness too.

Can you impart some lessons or advice?
In life, you should be revengeful towards your adversities by being successful. Let the adversities know that you can face them, say “I am going to prove you wrong.” Life is never easy, it’s always tough. Never look for the easiest thing to do. Females are strong and need to explore it. We are made to explore those strengths through hard times.

How are you and your family now?
My entire family is proud of me and supports my endeavours. This means a lot because they didn’t even want me to go to school. My eldest brother said he is so proud of me because I proved that I am more than capable.

Any last words?
I look forward to my future. I stepped out of the past, I’m not carrying that burden anymore. It’s like I stepped out of a cocoon or something. When I finally expressed myself and people understood, it was like a new life and a new me.

A truly inspirational woman who is living proof that adversity creates a stronger person. The entire Dress For Success Vancouver network wishes Deepika nothing but the best of luck moving into the next chapter of her life!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

PWG Graduation: A Day of Gratitude and Celebration

On Saturday June 21st, a dedicated group of women came out in full force to support 10 of their peers graduate from the Professional Women’s Group (PWG), a free program run by Dress for Success Vancouver.

The morning began with a round of ya-yas, celebrations, achievements, events, new jobs or any exciting updates the women wanted to share with each other. With the room buzzing with excitement, four women bravely stepped up to the front of the room and one by one, left us in awe with their stories of triumph and how Dress for Success Vancouver had changed their lives. Despite coming from different cultures and backgrounds, the women shared a theme of connectedness: courage, tenacity and relentless determination.

First we heard from Mitra, a single mother from Iran who built a bilingual education center for children in Tehran. She moved to Canada for her daughter, and shared this simple piece of advice “follow and go with your passion because that is where your heart is and when you touch your heart, that is limitless.” Having joined Dress for Success, Mitra has experience unlimited kindness, respect, education and support.

Next was Deepika, born to a conservative family in India who did not support her rights to an education. After her husband lost his business, her life changed in a split second. Homeless with a newborn baby, she overcame depression and became the sole breadwinner for her husband and his family. After the bitter sting of betrayal, they lost their fortune again and came to Canada for a fresh start. Deepika’s mission is to educate all women and men in India to widen their conservative perspectives.

Then we heard from Geraldine, a single mother and victim of spousal abuse. Although she had great jobs in both Manila and Dubai, she left in favour of Canada despite the uncertainty of a different culture and not having enough money to sustain her life simply to give her son a better life. Not having family in Canada, her only support is PWG and events like Impact 360, that give her self confidence like she’s never experienced before.

Lastly, Sunny recounted her struggles over the last 15 months, determined to make a life in Vancouver with the mantra of “failure is not an option.” Overcoming homelessness and immense loss, Sunny came from having nothing to becoming an addictions counsellor and starting courses at Langara College.

After drying our eyes, the entire room watched and cheered as 10 of their friends graduated from their cohort. We wish the 10 PWG graduates the best of luck as they continue with their 18 month program through Dress for Success Vancouver!