Making an impression

Sue West, Dianne, Samantha, Kylie, Renee Cooke and Hope.

By Casey Neill

First Impressions count.

The saying is particularly true when it comes to job interviews, so long-term unemployed women in the Yarra Ranges are helping others in their position to get a leg-up.

Clothing library First Impressions is taking shape in The Terrace shopping centre in Brice Avenue, Mooroolbark, and will likely open its doors on Wednesday 4 September.

Participants in Cire Services’ Women’s Warehouse program, a partnership with Employment Plus, came up with the concept – women can buy or rent clothing for a job interview or other important occasion.

Renee Cooke from Cire said women could also seek styling tips, run through their resume or practice interview techniques.

“They’re going to be getting that one-on-one assistance,” she said.

“A lot are overwhelmed, but they’ll be dealing with people who know what they’re going through.”

First Impressions will share a shop space with the Mooroolbark Artist in Residence project.

Artist Mandy Pickett’s project will focus on sustainability and creating art from cloth, so the library was a perfect fit.

She’d also been involved with Women’s Warehouse in Healesville.

The women volunteering their time at First Impressions are gaining skills that prospective employers are seeking.

Cire’s Sue West, who also founded Money Natters and is the Voices of Women president, said two participants had already landed jobs after learning new skills and adding them to their resume.

They’ve been involved with grant applications, marketing meetings and more.

“It’s lovely to see them enthusiastic about this project,” she said.

Classes in repairing and repurposing clothing are also on the agenda.

All money raised through the shop will cover overheads and could one day fund a standalone store.

Cire’s Nina Bekker said each woman involved had her own skill set that was being built upon.

“It’s about connecting and building real employability skills and leadership skills,” she said.

Women’s Warehouse has been nominated for a Learn Local Award in the Creating Local Solutions category. Winners will be announced on 23 August.

First Impressions will open Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 2pm.

Anyone who’d like to donate good quality women’s clothing to the project can find drop-off points at Cire Yarra Junction, Seville Community House, Cire Lilydale Campus or Chirnside Park Community Hub.

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