Lawrence’s new Uncommon Threads is a boutique with a twist. Sure, you’ll find brand-name clothes, jewelry, and accessories. But the appointment-only shop also has a mission: to empower struggling women through fashion.
Founder Susan Kanoff is a social worker, stylist, and style blogger, and shoppers are referred by colleagues who counsel domestic violence survivors and women in need.
Each woman receives a two-hour styling session and up to four complete outfits geared to her lifestyle, whether she’s prepping for a job interview or staying home with kids. The boutique, which accepts financial and wardrobe donations, carries everything from brand-name evening wear to cute jeans.
Kanoff quietly opened the volunteer-run establishment, in partnership with nonprofit Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, this month. A splashier, formal launch is planned for January.
“As a social worker, I’ve worked like a life coach, guiding women, helping them overcome obstacles and getting education, jobs, moving ahead, becoming their best selves,” she says, stressing that Uncommon Threads isn’t merely focused on outfitting clients for job interviews but whatever each woman’s lifestyle requires.
While Kanoff is a social worker by trade, she’s always had an eye for fashion. In recent years, she launched a side business as a stylist, and many clients have donated their unused items to her. She was soon wheeling a rack to her day job, where she was able to donate duds to women in need.
There’s nothing like slipping on an outfit that makes you feel great, she says.
“One of my [styling] clients gave me a Burberry coat. One woman needed professional clothes and a coat; she had just started a job . . . She looked in the mirror and said, ‘Oh, my God! This coat makes me feel incredible!’ She came back several months later and said the coat had changed her life. She felt like ‘somebody’ in that coat,” Kanoff recalls.
That’s the sensation she hopes to inspire each time a new woman steps into the shop, with its clean lines, pillows, curtains, and other comforts, supplied gratis by community partners.
“This is not just a ‘work clothes’ program,” Kanoff says. “This is clothing for empowerment. This is clothing meant for lifting self-esteem and self-worth.”Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.