FASHION

OC Women2Women and Working Wardrobes collaborate in event at Fashion Island’s Neiman Marcus

OC Women2Women and Working Wardrobes collaborate in event at Fashion Island’s Neiman Marcus

Empowering other women to be confident in job interviews, bolstered by their attire, was at the top of the charitable minds that gathered at Fashion Island’s Neiman Marcus late Wednesday morning for a collaboration between local nonprofits OC Women2Women and Working Wardrobes.

At a luncheon event hosted by the retailer and the two organizations, guests learned of the newest trends for the upcoming season, which were shown by Neiman Marcus models. Just outside, staff received gently used clothing donated by attendees and slipped them onto racks they ferried across the parking lot to the Working Wardrobes collection truck.

More than 200 donated outfits were collected Wednesday, and Neiman Marcus will gift a portion of the event’s proceeds to the effort, according to Working Wardrobes.

Working Wardrobes chief executive officer Bonni Pomush said the idea for the event started with Karen Butera King, the president of OC Women2Women.

Johannah Hulme of Working Wardrobes collects and organizes woman's wear.

Johannah Hulme of Working Wardrobes collects and organizes woman’s wear from donations during the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon. Over 200 outfits were collected on Wednesday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“This is an opportunity for women who are engaged with OC Women2Women to support Working Wardrobes in our effort to help people overcome all sorts of barriers to gainful employment,” Pomush said, commending King for her work on the event. “Today’s event is a combination of sharing a passion for fashion with the goodhearted desire to do something good in the world for our fellow humans.”

Pomush said King reached out to her in December and noted that OC Women2Women, which focuses on women in underserved Orange County communities, regularly supports Working Wardrobes but that “this year, I think we’re going to find that she really knocked it out of the park.”

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A model showcases the latest in popular woman’s wear during the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon to benefit Working Wardrobes at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island on Wednesday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“Last year, Working Wardrobes reached out to more than 5,500 souls in our Southern Californian community. This work is so important because it is humans uplifting humans on their journeys to self-sufficiency through the dignity of work, and the empowerment that Working Wardrobes provides individuals is truly priceless,” Pomush said. “It not only impacts that one person but has a ripple effect and affects that person’s family, their neighborhood and their community.”

Pomush pointed out that although Wednesday’s event was focused on women, Working Wardrobes provides clothes for anyone looking to appear polished for job interviews.

Sarah Hajali , right, who donated several coats, looks over the other donations.

Sarah Hajali , right, who donated several coats, looks over the other donations during the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon to benefit Working Wardrobes at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island on Wednesday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“We’ve partnered with Working Wardrobes for so many years and we love what they stand for — there’s no other organization like them,” said King. “We always select a charity to work with for every event and this … seemed like a natural opportunity for us to give back to Working Wardrobes. Once you go through the Working Wardrobes program or see it in action, you see how important their work is for women in our community.”

Placentia resident Sarah Hajali said she donated an outfit that featured golden buttons on it, which she felt showed that whoever wore it could fit into a workplace and show off both their intelligence and feminine style.

Hajali said she joined OC Women2Women about two years ago, attracted to the group because it focuses not only on providing clothing, like when they work with Working Wardrobes, but by offering programming that provides education and demonstrates women can support other women in a meaningful way.

Working Wardrobes CEO Bonnie Pomush, right, welcomes guests to the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon.

Working Wardrobes CEO Bonnie Pomush, right, welcomes guests to the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon alongside Karen Butera King, left, president of OC Women2Women.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“The clothes itself, it’s like you’re supporting another woman to appear and look good so she can stand up for herself and dress up and explore the best things in life,” Hajali said. “It’s an amazing cause, and I’m proud of all of us. It’s something very beautiful.”

OC Women2Women executive board member Sahar Hanna said she donated one outfit herself. She said she’s been with the organization for the last decade and did other charitable work before she joined up.

“Being born on this planet, it has a purpose. And for me as a woman, and I’ve lived in the United States for over 35 years … my goal is to not have underprivileged women. I want to see women who are strong and independent. I support organizations that help lift the woman up, not just, ‘Here’s some clothes and here’s some money,’” Hanna said. “I support all nonprofits that give education, to show the younger generation how to stop being [mistreated].”

Paying it forward through donations and events like Wednesday’s gathering at Neiman Marcus, Hana believes, is essential.

“It’s not just giving them clothes. Are they [because of what we do] going to help another woman? Yes,” she said.

Donated coats, dresses, and other woman's wear is donated to the Working Wardrobes collection truck.

Donated coats, dresses, and other woman’s wear is donated to the Working Wardrobes collection truck during the OC Women2Women Club benefit luncheon at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island on Wednesday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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