The thrifty fashionistas of Northwest Indiana gathered at Avalon Manor on Thursday evening to take part in Goodwill Industries of Michiana’s bi-annual Little Black Dress Fashion Show and Boutique.
Hosted once early in the year in South Bend, and once in the fall in Merrillville, the event sees Goodwill collect hundreds to thousands of items ranging from shoes, purses, dresses, jackets, pants, jewelry, and more from Goodwill locations across Northern Indiana and offer them up for sale at half price for attendees. At the climax of the evening, models representing businesses and organizations around the Region take a trip down the runway in outfits assembled from the boutique - all while raising awareness for the various programs and initiatives Goodwill champions with special clips and interviews between runway sessions.
“What the Little Black Dress does is bring mission and store together,” said Debie Coble, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Michiana. “Our stores are what drive the mission here at Goodwill, they fund so much of what we do in the community and helping those individuals that need a hand up.”
Among the highlighted programs were Goodwill’s Excel Center, which offers tuition-free high school and college credits to adults seeking a high school diploma, and their Nurse Family Partnership, which helps first-time parents and their children thrive during those difficult first years of life. These efforts thrive due to the success of Goodwill’s retail efforts.
“I think that a lot of people don’t really realize what Goodwill does, they just see that we take donations and sell them,” said Erika Miller, district manager for Goodwill Industries of Michiana. “Some folks don’t know that we have schools that we fund, nurses that help new mothers, veteran’s services, senior services, and help for people with barriers of all kinds.”
Yet their retail services remain core to the mission - and Little Black Dress showcases that crafty thrifting can result in stunning, budget-conscious outfits.
“Little Black Dress is kind of a two-fold thing, one being to help the community understand what it is that we really do,” said Mark Ziegert, Vice President of Donated Goods Retail at Goodwill Industries of Michiana. “But the fashion show also shows that used goods can look just as good as new goods. There are so many faces we see here every year, I’ve got friends that always ask me about when it is, and they’ll go to both shows here and in South Bend and buy their wardrobe for an entire year.”
Ziegert remarked that his favorite part of every Little Black Dress is seeing the mountains of purses quickly vanish.
“I see these ladies buying 10 purses at a time and I’m just amazed,” he said. “I wonder what they say to their families when they get home with all these purses - hopefully it's that it was a deal well worth it because they got 12 purses for the price of one hundred dollar purse.”
To learn more about Goodwill Industries of Michiana, visit them at www.goodwill-ni.org.