Entrepreneur Profile: Women’s Path to Employment (WPTE)
Lawrence Entrepreneur Helps Unemployed Women Dress for Success
It seems like every day the headlines read that the unemployment rate is on the rise. While government officials and the private sector scramble to think of national policy to combat this problem, there are individuals taking this challenge into their own hands and implementing out-of-the box approaches on the local level. For one entrepreneur here in Lawrence the solution involves dress pants, lip stick, and a pair of high heels!
Sabrina Boggio, a junior at Merrimack College, has lived in Lawrence her whole life. She grew up hearing about the negative stereotypes of the city and wanted to do something to change it for the better. With an unemployment rate currently at 14% she thought this was the area where she could make the biggest impact; specifically, she wanted to help the women who she sees as the building blocks of the community. “Single mothers play a vital role that leads to a big impact in the future of our communities,” says Sabrina. “Growing up, many of my friends were from single parent households where it became a struggle for the whole family just to make ends meet. It was very difficult for them to make a living and some of the pressures fell upon the children. I had this desire in me to help them out in some way.”
During her freshmen year at Merrimack College, Sabrina turned that desire into action. She noticed that many of women from her area were going to interviews without professional clothing. They were doing this because either they did not know what to wear or could not afford it. Knowing that this was affecting their chances of getting the job, Sabrina organized a clothing drive at her college. With the help of the Sandbox Catalyst Program, Sabrina collected over 50 full suits, 20 pairs of shoes, and multiple accessories such as handbags, scarves, belts, and jewelry. The drive was so successful that Merrimack College donated a space to store everything!
To the women receiving these clothes, these were more than just blouses and dress skirts. They were a symbol of confidence. As one client said, “These clothes really gave me a boost. I feel like I am a lot more ready to take on this interview!”
In the last two years, Sabrina has had continued success with WPTE. As she will eventually be entering the workforce herself, Sabrina wants to transition WPTE from a student project to a nonprofit organization. She applied for the Sandbox Accelerator Program to address some of her challenges. “One thing that I am working through right now is developing a cost structure for my services, “says Sabrina. “A big question in developing this cost structure is if I will purchase and maintain a truck or van that I would retrofit to transport and deliver the clothing donations.”
Sabrina plans to launch with three options for local organizations to refer clients. Clients can either be referred one by one, five can be booked at once for a pop up shop, or one lucky client can be chosen to receive a head-to-toe make-over complete with interview hair and makeup tutorials. Each comes with volunteers who serve as personal shoppers to the clients as they help find that one special outfit that fits perfectly and is appropriate for the client’s interview.
In the Accelerator Program, Sabrina is learning a lot from the workshops, peers, and mentors. “I’ve learned that you have to start small. Focus on one area that you know you can achieve and be successful at and work towards developing that area before you move on to anything else.”
Although Sabrina has seen success in a small period of time, she knows she has a big task ahead of her. “In order to get more of our women back to work, WPTE has to scale its services,” says Sabrina. We won’t be limited to Lawrence. Once we achieve more success, we will be expanding all over the Merrimack Valley. Our ultimate goal is to not only creating a path to employment, but a better life for these women and their families.”
For more information on Women’s Path to Employment, click here!