46 Dresses: Margo den Ouden
I’m a daughter, sister, wife, and mother. I’m a lover of people; of giving more than I can possibly receive.
I’m a brand manager, public speaker and writer. I live in The Netherlands after a 2-year stay in Los Angeles.
All came together in my dream project: 46 Dresses.
46 Dresses gives new dresses to women who are in a financially difficult situation or season, such as single mothers, or women who are self-employed with a chronic illness, or have lost their jobs.
For years I was looking for meaning in my work as a Brand Manager, but it was hard to find. That changed completely when I had a conversation with a beautiful woman at a party. She told me how happy she was with the secondhand leather bag she was given, despite holes in the upholstery. Her gratitude for receiving something hit me. She confessed that she was in financial distress for years, and consequently unable to buy something for herself, making this bag particularly special.
That evening I checked my wardrobe and glanced at all my dresses; I had over 50 of them! I took out a light blue dress I had never worn, and thought, “This is meant for her.” When I gave her the dress, her response was another defining moment. She told me she had not felt so feminine and appreciated in years. I realized that if a single dress could make someone so happy, I didn’t want to stop there.
I determined that if I could rent out my remaining dresses, then I could buy new ones out of the proceeds, making many more women happy. That was when the concept of 46 Dresses was born: renting out my remaining 46 dresses to gather income for buying new dresses for women in need. From the beginning I wanted to create a sense of beauty and power at the same time; the feeling of being royalty should be accessible to everyone. Someone told me I wouldn’t succeed, and that I should go find a real job, but I decided, “This IS my job!” I shared my idea with others and suddenly received help from the most talented photographers, stylists and professionals.
In December 2015 we went live on Facebook. Since then, the demand for renting the dresses has grown exponentially. We received a lot of media attention, even before the launch, but more importantly, we have already reached thousands of women in six months and have received dozens of donated dresses. We have received comments such as, "I feel no longer unnoticed,” and "I finally feel like a woman again."
We are not done yet. Our goal is to reach every woman – worldwide! - who is going to through a rough time.
How You Can Help:
46 Dresses is currently run by volunteers and is based out of our home. Three days a week, we convert our house into a “dress paradise” with hundreds of donated dresses ready for pickup in different styles and sizes. I regularly get calls of people saying, "Hello, where is your shop? I'm right around the corner!" I simply respond, “Oh, great! Would it be possible to come back in an hour?” I then quickly clean up after our son and his toys and make sure the dresses are exposed nicely.
We need support to turn our startup into a real business, and have identified the following as our top priorities:
Funding: People can donate directly to the 46 Dresses Foundation; and organizations, industry or others can join as partner in our mission to make all women to dream more, do more and become more;
Volunteers: 46 Dresses was started by volunteers, and we are always looking for women that bring knowledge and experience to our growing community.
Contact Margo at: firstname.lastname@example.org