'Dress for Success' program helping women move up the retail ladder

Cash registers and clothing hangers probably come to mind when you think of retail.

"There’s so many positions behind the velvet rope that keep the machine going," said Michelle Bremer, with Dress For Success Tampa Bay. "It’s a team effort and what you see on the front lines are the sales people."

Bremer says sales positions make up less than 30% of retail, although it is where many people get their start in the industry. That is the reasons why Dress for Success is offering a free 6-month course teaching students skills on customer service, sales and managing others. The students also learn how to speak up when you want to step up.

"What we’re trying to do is give them the tools and the knowledge and the confidence to, if it’s their decision to have more hours, make the ask for more hours," said Bremer.

She says getting into a full-time position is the first step to advancing your career. The next step is working on skills that set you apart.

"When we stay in the small minds then we’re not really serving anybody else it’s just about me, myself, and I," said Nicolet Butts, who is already signed up for the course. "But when you play it big you are able to help the world."

Butts is hoping to expand her small boutique and teach others what she learns.

Stephanie Carfora also signed up.

"Supervising and leading sometimes is different and sometimes it takes doing difficult things that you may not want to do or may not feel that you’re good at," said Carfora, who noted leading by example is a strategy she enjoys. 

Carfora is a wedding and gift adviser at a major department store. Learn how to build up confidence tops her list.

"It’s one thing to learn how to sell a product or sell somebody else but sometimes it’s difficult to sell yourself," Carfora said.

Students are completing online course work and meeting once a month in person to hear from experts in the retail world.

By the end of the six months, each student will receive a certification to go on their resume. Dress for Success Worldwide received $500,000 dollars from Walmart to fund the course for its chapters across the country.

To register, call or text (813) 758-9587. Spots are limited, but Bremer hopes they will offer the class again once the first one wraps up. She says Dress for Success can help women in many different ways.

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