In early 2020, Victoria BC-based nonprofits, Wear2Start Society and Here In Canada (Here Magazine) teamed up to support newcomer women in the community. The Wear2Start team provided these women with new outfits and accessories to equip them for any opportunity that might lie ahead—a job interview, an important meeting, or a special event. This is their story.
Video Editing: Rodrigo Costa
One outfit, one look, one step at a time. That’s what the Victoria-based nonprofit Wear2Start (W2S) Society is all about. The idea behind this organization founded twenty years ago is simple: support any struggling self-identifying woman to get where she needs to be—whether it’s for a job interview, going to court, or attending any event—by dressing them up, from head to toe, for free.
To the women from the Here In Canada community, many of them international students, temporary workers, and refugees, the experience of being given that personalized service —of being asked what colour they wanted, or which bag goes with what dress, or if they wanted to go the salon for a bit of makeover—was uplifting and motivating. They walked into the doors of W2S one sunny day in Victoria, expecting nothing grand, and walked out feeling happy, excited, and ready to take on the world!
With Victoria growing more diverse each year, and understanding the many barriers newcomers and refugees face in Canada, Here In Canada CEO Fiona Bramble knew that partnering with W2S for the Better Together Gala 2020 was a rare, singular gift both organizations could offer. Beyond the dress and the makeup, beyond the experience of every woman who had been given a helping hand, it is really about raising awareness about what it takes to make Victoria a welcoming city, and what the community needs to do together to make this a home for everyone.
I did not really know what was in store for me until I got there and as soon as I stepped into their office, I could feel all eyes on me. It was almost as though I had walked on to a movie set and everything and everyone revolved around me! Two lovely ladies approached me and thanked me for coming over and then asked me what kind of look I wanted. Still unsure of what was happening, I told them I would be going for an interview in the next two weeks, and off they went. The clothes literally transformed my whole look and made me feel super confident. They explained to me that this is what Wear2Start is all about: to equip women with a wardrobe that instils confidence in them. Wear2Start your life!
—Neha Sharma, newcomer and Wear2Start client