Donating dresses to those in need

Opening Doors By Donating Dresses

A Boston entrepreneur helps bring confidence to girls in need

When Sam Sisakhti’s fashion site, UsTrendy.com, started to take off, he started getting dress samples from fashion designers, which he would pass on to celebrities as a way to build his brand. “I thought I should probably put those clothes to better use,” he told Good Turns recently. So he started giving his samples away in low-income areas. “Right away, I saw how much appreciation these girls had for brand-new clothing. They were now inspired to go to a dance at their school. It gave them some confidence they didn’t have before.”

One of the other things Sisakhti had noticed on UsTrendy was an unexpected amount of body shaming and cyberbullying when users would post pictures of themselves in designers’ clothes. UsTrendy started moderating comments as a result, but Sisakhti felt there was more he could do.

“When I was a kid, if there was bullying happening at school, it would end at school,” he says. “Now it was following kids home, online.” So Sisakhti decided to merge the two causes he had become concerned with, and in January of this year launched The Believe in Yourself Project, a non-profit that not only donates new designer dresses for girls to wear at upcoming events, but also provides speakers and mentoring services to promote greater confidence and positive body image among young women.

“Our mentors are usually people who have overcome body-image issues or who have pursued their dream and overcome adversity in some way”

His goal is to donate 10,000 dresses by the end of the year. And while Believe in Yourself currently brings speakers into the communities in which it works, “I don’t want to have that be a one-time thing,” Sisakhti says. So he also wants to establish weekly meetings within the communities themselves that will be available to girls locally, but also streamed through Facebook Live and similar channels.

The organization works with local housing projects and Boys & Girls Clubs to identify girls in need, but has also fielded inquiries from individuals themselves or from schools via the contact form on its site.

At the moment, all the donations come from UsTrendy and Sisakhti himself, but this fall he hopes to see retailers and brands start donating dresses to the program. He’s also on the lookout for mentors and speakers in communities across the country, whether people interested in becoming a mentor or just in sharing their story online. “Our mentors are usually people who have overcome body-image issues or who have pursued their dream and overcome adversity in some way,” Sisakhti says. “If you have a story like that to share, I’d love to hear from you.”

In the meantime, The Believe in Yourself Project will continue to help young women through the unexpected power of a new dress to promote self-confidence and open doors to new opportunities. See you at the dance.

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