30 July 2021

Spotlight On: Suited To Success

Suited To Success is a not-for-profit community organisation assisting women in Australia become independent, by empowering them with the practical tools, support, and confidence they need for job seeking.

As a business owned by and run by women, we are so passionate about supporting their work; and we are so excited to have partnered with them this year to make a real difference.

It has been an incredibly challenging time for the charity and the people they support. The pandemic saw the organisation suspending their operations in the office, their retail store and postponing all social enterprise events that would usually help raise funds to support the organisation, the people and their services. 

Suited To Success CEO, Tamara Smith explains what a “terrifying time it was to watch our income slow down to almost nothing and face such an uncertain future, especially knowing people were about to need us now more than ever” with job losses in Australia increasing every day due to the pandemic. It is this that filled Tamara and the STS team with a deep determination to survive.

We are proud to announce that with your help, we have donated over $60,000 worth of stock and funds raised through our DISSH Cotton Tote online and instore. 

We sat down with the CEO of STS Queensland, Tamara Smith to understand the work that the organisation does, learn more about the people it supports and what difference the contributions we make has. 

Tell us about Suited To Success and what your mission is for women?

Suited to Success helps women in Queensland overcome barriers to employment, and provides employment assistance, career coaching, workshops, styling services (including clothing), and peer support activities. Our mission is to inspire hope and self-belief for brighter futures.

How has the last year affected Suited To Success?

In March 2020, we made the difficult decision to suspend operations at our Brisbane office. Throughout the closure period, we remained committed to supporting job-seekers through our virtual services, including our remote styling services and virtual Career Hub (which we launched during the pandemic).

This was a very challenging period for Suited to Success. While our income slowed down, most of our expenses did not. However, we knew our services were about to become more important than ever before. We were committed to continuing our mission of inspiring hope and self-belief for brighter futures. So, we began working towards a COVIDSafe reopening.

At the beginning of August 2020, with restrictions starting to ease, we commenced a staged reopening of our face-to-face services. We began welcoming clients back onsite, with robust COVIDSafe processes in place. Before the end of the year, we had supported well over 200 clients onsite at Suited to Success.

Can you tell us about a woman that really moved or inspired you on your journey with STS? 

One Thursday evening, I received an email from a woman who desperately needed workwear, as she had just secured a new job starting on Monday. She had no suitable clothing, and was struggling financially. We were fully booked the next day, but one of our stylists kindly agreed to stay back, because it would be this clients only chance to access our services before starting her new role.

We cannot share too much about this client or her story, to protect her privacy. She was referred to us by Brisbane Domestic Violence Services, having just left a violent relationship.

She arrived at our Women’s styling Boutique on Friday afternoon, and was styled in a range of outfits. We provided her with a capsule work wardrobe, including shoes, make-up, and a handbag.

This client’s story has stayed with me because it really encapsulates the reason that Suited to Success exists. To remove barriers to employment. For this client, a lack of work wardrobe was a barrier. When she left Suited to Success, she had a work wardrobe. But we had given her more than clothes, as she shared her new wardrobe would “help me feel confident in my new job”.

One last part of the story. As this client left, she said to me, “I’ll be back to donate, as soon as I can”. Someone who had been through so much, was already thinking of how to give back.

What are the kinds of issues women are facing who come to Suited To Success for support?

Our clients come from a range of different backgrounds, and have often experienced long periods of unemployment. Their barriers to employment are frequently complex and multi-layered. Some of our clients include:

  • People living with mental health conditions
  • People who have experienced domestic violence
  • Mature people who lack adequate levels of super and savings
  • People at risk of poverty
  • People exiting correctional facilities
  • People living with a disability
  • Newly arrived migrants and refugees
  • People with housing issues

STS accepts referrals from a wide range of organisations including: employment service agencies, personal support services, rehabilitation services, disability employment service providers, and non-profit organisations

Are there other companies that you work with to help these women facing these issues too?

Partnering for impact is at the heart of what we do at Suited to Success. Around 80% of our clients come to us through referrals from other organisations and charities. We work in partnership with these organisations, to provide the specific tools each client needs. 

What is your "why"?

I feel grateful every day, that Suited to Success is still here, to support and care for the people who need us. Every day we get to help people – and every day people tell us how much our services mean to them.

This is my ‘why’. The support we provide is practical, and meeting a real need in our community. The work we do makes a tangible impact on people’s lives. And by extension, the lives of their family, and the community as a whole.

Suited to Success is powered by volunteers. We simply could not do what we do without this selfless group of people. I am immensely grateful to our volunteers - who give so generously of their time and talent.

We are so excited to have raised and donated over $60,000 of clothing and funds. What difference does contributions like this make to Suited To Success and the women you support?

This donation will immediately be put to work, supporting our styling and clothing services. This is by far our most requested / popular service – however, we really struggle to secure funding dedicated to supporting it.

When someone comes to Suited to Success for a styling session, they receive:

  • A full outfit to keep (including: clothing, shoes, belt, handbag, toiletries, and make-up).
  • A one-on-one session with an experienced stylist, who is focused on building their confidence and self-esteem, as well as sharing knowledge and finding them a beautiful outfit.
  • Access to our other employment support services, such as assistance with resume writing.

These are the services your donation will power. Services that are about much more than simply providing someone with a new outfit.

These people who now have the opportunity to be filled with confidence and hope. Who will leave Suited to Success, knowing a someone is behind them – cheering them on, and will experience the transformational power of being seen.

This is the gift you have truly given our clients, and we are deeply grateful.