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Registration open for Entrepreneurial Spirit Program

By Staff | Jul 26, 2018

Women, either unemployed, or underemployed, are invited to attend the Entrepreneurial Spirit Program next month to learn more about becoming a future business owner.

Dress for Success is a worldwide organization that has 150 affiliates. In February of this year, Dress for Success Southwest Florida brought on a new executive director, Nickole Hendra, after the affiliate began in 2010.

Hendra said they offer clothes to women who are either unemployed, or underemployed.

“They come to us from over 45 referral organizations that we work with,” she said.

If the woman has an interview, they are provided with a complete outfit, from head to toe, including a bra. If they already have a job, they are given 20 additional pieces to help them begin their career.

In addition to offering women clothing, Dress for Success also offers various programs.

One of those programs is called Entrepreneurial Spirit Program (E$P), which has been around since 2014. Dress for Success Southwest Florida is the only affiliate that offers this program.

“It is for women who want to enter back into the workforce,” Hendra said. “The entrepreneurial program is open to 18 and older women.”

The program will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., 8961 Conference Drive, Fort Myers. The program will include a light breakfast and lunch.

E$P will feature four prominent women in the community who will cover topics that will help inspire and prepare future business owners.

“We’ve had the same dream team since the inception of the program,” she said.

The dream team include Angela Cooley, partner at Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Company, P.A., who will discuss business accounting; Christina Harris Schwinn, partner at Pavese Law Firm, who will discuss legal documentation and incorporation; Barbara Melvin, vice president and community lender at First Florida Integrity Bank, who will discuss small business lending and SBA loans and Connie Ramos-Williams, president and chief marketing officer of CONRIC PR & Marketing, who will discuss new business branding and marketing.

Hendra said they typically offer the program once or twice a year, depending on the first initial class size.

“We hope to have a program just like this in Naples,” she said.

Those interested in attending are asked to either call (239) 689-4492, or email swflorida@dressforsuccess.org.

“There is a $25 donation that we ask for at the door that helps pay for the participant’s breakfast and lunch,” Hendra said.

There will be another program, W.E.T.E.S. (Women Empowered Through Employment Series) held on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 1299 S. Cleveland Avenue, Suite 252.

The six-week program is for women who are underemployed, or unemployed.

The topics will include “Putting Your Best Face Forward;” Considering Your Finances;” “Creating a Resume That Stands Out;” “Taking Your Job Search Online;” “Nailing Your Interview With Confidence;” “Building a Network That Works;” “Interview Practice with Employers” and “Career Advice Panel of Experts.”

“We bring in employers within Lee County and do practice interviews,” Hendra said of such businesses as Chico’s, Walgreens and Walmart. “Those employers, at times, will hire on the spot.”

She said it’s a great practice because the women have the opportunity to see what it’s like to interview in front of a professional. Often times, they will receive positive reinforcement and feedback on what do and not do during an interview.

“We give them clothing for their interview,” Hendra said, adding that the woman is also paired up with a mentor. “The coach is there at the beginning of the program to the end of the program.”

Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive an interview outfit; a resume that gets noticed; a cover letter ready to customize to each employer; a personalized elevator speech for selling their strengths and abilities; effective job search tools; an established social media profile; a template for thank you notes; practice interviewing with local employers with feedback; financial literacy training and budgeting plan and on-going support with job search following program completion.

As the new executive director of Dress for Success Southwest Florida, Hendra said part of her initiative is to get out into the community more. She wants to let the employers know they are there to help them find talented and fabulous employees.

Hendra said she also wants to let other nonprofit organizations know they are stronger than ever, are stepping up their programs and strengthening and building new partnerships and opportunities.

On average, Dress for Success Southwest Florida sees about 230 to 250 women a year in Fort Myers and Naples through programs and women seeking clothing.

“Our numbers are growing. There has been a substantial increase in numbers since I have been out in the community more,” Hendra said.

For more information, visit swflorida.dressforsuccess.org.