Story by Rochelle Dunbar. Photos by Nancy McGuire.
As a young girl, Lauren Freeman always loved helping people. Today, she is doing the same thing as an adult, by helping women build the confidence they need to enter the workforce or advance their careers.
Lauren is the CEO of the Dress for Success Dallas chapter. She is also the Founder, CEO, and Managing Partner of Lauren Fabulous Firm, LLC, an organization dedicated to improving women’s lifestyles. Lauren attended California State University where she worked professionally in the fitness, entertainment, design, and media industries. She received her honorary doctorate from CICA University.
She grew up in a close knit family in a family of 13, in a Christian household where her parents always taught her to share, give love, and respect. Those values were pillars for Lauren in her formative years. They are the basis of her helping nature. Another key pillar of Lauren is her love of fashion and entertainment. Even as a child, she knew that entertainment and fashion would play a key role in her life. And it did. At the age of five she started dressing her mother. That passion then grew and led Lauren to where she is today. “I help women dress for success,” she says.
Dress for Success is a nonprofit organization that helps women break out of the cycle of poverty by helping them reach their full potential. A hallmark of Dress for Success culture is providing women with professional attire to secure employment. However, what they offer is more than just a suit. According to Lauren, Dress for Success Dallas “is about guiding a woman along her career path and building her confidence and self-esteem to land the job of her dreams.”
Lauren absolutely loves what she does. For Lauren, witnessing the transformation in the women they serve is her favorite thing about being the CEO of Dress for Success Dallas. “Usually when a client comes in they are feeling very low, like they are not supposed to be there. Usually many of the women don’t like to look at who they are in the mirror because they have lost themselves along the way. But we can change that,” Lauren says. “Their transformation isn’t instant, but when they leave that door they feel very successful, ready to take on the world.” And that is often the first step in helping Dallas women achieve economic independence. After they go through Dress for Success Dallas, they are able to feel confident about themselves. Many of them are able to see themselves in front of a mirror.
More than anything, Lauren believes in meeting people where they are at. She does this because her parents met her where she was at. She believes that this meeting place is the same place that allows someone to succeed. “When you meet someone where they are at, they are able to receive guidance. That guidance then helps people to win, and if you want to win, you have to begin.”
Dress for Success Dallas is that beginning. Their clients are referred to them through partnering nonprofits such as Workforce Solutions, schools, colleges, veteran organizations, churches, and prisons. They provide these women with the tools they need to build up their confidence, by giving them career advice, and providing them with mentorship opportunities and image consulting.
According to Lauren, Dress for Success Dallas helps each client become what she describes as a “Self-CEO”—a woman who is in charge of her own life. “I believe that being true to who you are makes you the best CEO,” she says. “If you know who you are, you are able to be a better person. If you google ‘CEO’ and read the description, you realize that is the same description for you. Because you are the one making executive decisions for yourself.” Lauren sees that women who own their identity, can weather any stormy circumstance or career shift that life throws their way.
Lauren today still loves making women feel beautiful and confident, and she is happy as long as she is helping someone. Looking ahead, Lauren hopes that the Dress for Success Dallas clients, members, and volunteers, will continue to change the world and help lift up more people within the community. “Support,” Lauren says. “That’s as simple as it gets.”
To find out more about how you can help lift women out of poverty through Dress for Success Dallas, visit the organization’s website at dallas.dressforsuccess.org.