Dress for Success Vancouver Helped Me Create A Beautiful Settlement Story

Dress for Success Vancouver (DFSV) is true to their words.  DFSV gave me dignity, inclusiveness, and hope when I was a newcomer to Canada.  They helped me clarify my personal values, enhance my skills, and create a supportive network throughout my journey.

As someone who has immigrated alone, their support and services were very precious to me.

I have nothing but wonderful words for Dress for Success Vancouver. Let me tell you why.

Dress for Success 2019 Impact Gala Poster
2019 Dress for Success Vancouver Impact Gala Poster
(Photo Courtesy of Broda Photography)

Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit organization that helps women achieve economic empowerment by providing professional outfits, career services, and skills development.

It was established in 1997 in New York and has expanded to almost 150 cities in 25 countries.  In Canada, it has more than 12 locations including Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto.

Receiving the Inspiration Award at the 2020 Dress for Success Luncheon
Receiving the 2020 Inspiration Award During The Dress for Success Luncheon
(Photo from the Dress for Success Vancouver Twitter Account, Clothes and Accessories from the DFSV Boutique)


Women obtain what they need for an interview—from clothing to confidence—and can return once they find employment for the apparel and accessories needed to enter the workforce.


I first heard of Dress for Success Vancouver from two women in a pre-employment workshop.  They caught my attention because they seem to be so excited about receiving beautiful professional clothing.

A month later, I was referred to DFSV for a suiting service.  It was my turn to be impressed by the wide array of gorgeous clothes, shoes, and accessories.  But what struck me most was the warmth of the volunteers and staff as they helped me find the right outfit. I left the DFSV boutique with a bag full of free clothing and accessories plus a heart bursting with renewed confidence.

Free Shoes, Accessories, and Make-up from the Dress for Success Vancouver Boutique

Career Centre and Workshops

Whether continuing their job searches or seeking professional development, women can get guidance, enhance their skills and explore career opportunities.


As a new immigrant, I knew that effective workplace communication is important. I was fortunate to attend a couple of DFSV training sessions on this topic

The Career Centre offers much more than communication workshops. Their volunteer HR professionals provide one-on-one consultations on:

  • Job search
  • Career change
  • Resume and cover letter
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Interview preparation
2019 Impact Gala
Photo from the Dress for Success Vancouver Facebook Page
(Courtesy of Badzak Creative)

Professional Women’s Group

Our women are inspired to advance their careers and initiate social change. They become assets within their communities, helping to make an impact on the lives of everybody around them and ensuring brighter futures for their families.


In 2013, I was invited to join the DFSV Professional Women’s Group (PWG).  Through this program, I was able to enhance my life skills, learn about Canadian culture, and clarify my personal values.  I also had the chance to widen my professional and personal network.  All of these helped me create my niche in Canada.

I joined PWG during one of the lowest points in my career. At that time, I felt frustrated, rejected, and isolated. I would see people go about their daily life with a routine and purpose while I am stuck in my job search. The thought of moving back home lingered in my mind, but it would be impossible to get back the life I left behind. On the other hand, I did not feel that I belonged to any group or the Canadian society. PWG helped me rise above these struggles. Each meeting gave me a feeling of belonging, being invited, and having a purpose.

I started volunteering for PWG the month after my graduation because I wanted to stay connected to this wonderful organization.  Also, I knew I won’t be able to find excellent resource speakers and valuable information free of charge anywhere else.  As time went by, volunteering has become a habit and advocacy. In fact, this sparked my commitment to community involvement and women empowerment. 

Success Luncheon Announcement
2020 Success Luncheon Announcement from the Dress for Success Vancouver Facebook Page

Professional Women’s Group Alumnae

After graduating from PWG, I joined the PWG Alumnae. Through this volunteer-run program, we continue PWG’s mission, skills enhancement activities, and camaraderie. During our monthly meetings, we listen to speakers and practice our public speaking skills. I had the chance to introduce speakers, thank guests, and give presentations during these meetings.

 2019 Impact Gala Runway
Photo of me from the Dress for Success Vancouver Facebook Page
(Courtesy of Suzanne Rushton Photography)

Ambassador Program

The Dress for Success Ambassador Program is a diverse and inclusive leadership and skill development program that challenges it’s participants to become leaders in the Dress for Success Vancouver community by attending workshops, events, and sharing their stories.


Five years after I started volunteering, I stepped up to become one of the DFSV ambassadors.  I think of myself as a passionate volunteer but a reluctant speaker.  However, DFSV believed in me.

As mentioned in my bio, I had the honor of speaking at the 2019 Global Dress for Success Affiliates Conference and the 2020 Success Luncheon.  To prepare for these events, I was coached by two amazing women: a TED, TEDMed, and TEDx coach as well as an author and communications specialist.

As an ambassador, I participated in numerous workshops including storytelling, public speaking, and mentoring. I also had my share of fun.  I joined photoshoots and dress fittings. Then I walked the runway twice for the Impact Gala fundraising events.

Dress for Success Vancouver Ambassadors
Dress for Success Vancouver Ambassadors at the 2019 Impact Gala
(Photo from the DFSV Facebook Page Courtesy of Peter Roth, Dress from the DFSV Boutique)

DFSV Is Much More Than a Not-For-Profit Organization

I have used the skills I sharpened in DFSV in the workplace.  Now, I host meetings, make presentations, and facilitate courses with more confidence. I have also gained clarity on my personal definition of success. 

Actually, I was inspired to create this blog by the DFSV Ambassador Program’s mission to share stories of inspiration, resilience, and triumphs.

DFSV is not just a not-for-profit organization that helped me thrive in Canada. It has armed me with clear goals, sharpened life skills, and a supportive network. It continuously fills my bucket of confidence, courage, and hope throughout my immigration journey.

I arrived in Canada alone but I found a family in Dress for Success Vancouver.

Join our global Dress for Success community – whether you are a job seeker, exploring your next opportunity, or looking for meaningful ways to contribute to the community.

Note: There are also organizations that cater to men. For those who are in the Vancouver area, check out Working Gear.

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2 Responses

  1. Au Lucas says:

    Wow what a wonderful journey for someone I always admired because of independence and resilience. Congratulations and more power . Looking forward for more adventures in your chosen path

    • Katrina says:

      I appreciate your kind words. I share my successes with all the women and men who helped pave the way for me. I look forward to more adventures as well. Cheers!

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