Nikkia Wade didn’t expect to join a sisterhood when she went to Dress for Success of Southern Nevada.
Wade was first referred in 2019 to the nonprofit that promotes economic independence for women through professional attire and development tools. She needed something to wear to an interview for a dental assistant job, a step toward improving her life from past mistakes.
“All I was told is that I was just getting help for my interview, but they did way more than that,” Wade said. “I felt like it really boosted my confidence because I was going into a new industry and feeling intimidated from my past choices. They made me feel like a superstar.”
Client services coordinator Lisa Wright said the model treatment is part of the nonprofit’s holistic approach to serving its clients that come from about 150 referral agencies.
“They come to us as clients, but it’s a sisterhood. We want them to be successful,” Wright said. “We provide every tool imaginable to help them reach their goals. Oftentimes if we can’t figure out the services that they need beyond the suit, the resume assistance and job coaching, et cetera, we will find out what you need.”
Several years after Wade’s first fitting, she thought of Dress for Success when her 20-year-old niece started a new job in fall 2021. The nonprofit welcomed her for a fitting.
While catching up with Wright, Wade mentioned her recently launched business called Clearly Cleared NV, which works to seal criminal records for clients.
The nonprofit wanted to continue supporting her. Dress for Success sponsored Wade’s attendance at two business conferences, where she learned about networking, developing a mission statement and setting up marketing and social media helped her network.
“To see her from where she began to where is now — an entrepreneur with her own business,” Wright said. “She looks great. She feels empowered. That’s, in a nutshell, why we do what we do.”
Wade hopes her business will help other women like her, who have turned over a new leaf but feel their past mistakes put pressure on daily life.
“Even when I was trying to look for an apartment, that was still coming up,” said Wade, who had a gross misdemeanor conviction from prior years. “So I had to really just make a whole transformation not just on the inside and out, but also on paper. A lot of times, you’re just stuck in that rut — ‘Oh, I’m not going to apply for this job or do this because I already know what they’ll say.’ But we all make mistakes and it’s never too late to change.”
This story was produced in partnership with the United Way of Southern Nevada as part of the “Everyone Deserves Hope” effort to assist local families this holiday season. To contribute, visit uwsn.org/hope.
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.