By Clare S. Richie
Dana Spinola, owner and founder of the fab’rik clothing boutique franchise that offers “high style without attitude or sticker shock,” sees clothes as a catalyst to reach young women in need of encouragement or a second chance.
The fab’rik flagship store in Midtown was recently repurposed to a community boutique “to restore dignity, confidence and hope to young ladies who have lost theirs,” Spinola said.
This community boutique is the continuation of a journey that began in 2009 when Spinola and her friend, local TV news anchor Kim Fettig Bartlett, combined their passion for fashion, overflowing closets, and altruism by launching free shopping sprees for struggling teens.
“We put out a call for donations and 500 bags showed up,” Spinola said, noting that partners like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta helped put them in touch with teens in need.
At the sprees, volunteers sorted clothes, set up the store, and helped each teen pick out a special outfit. “Shopping with dignity made the girls feel valued,” according to free fab’rik manager Rachel Large.
In addition, the sprees demonstrated the abundance of donations, volunteers, and girls in needed a helping hand.
By the summer of 2013, the faith-based nonprofit was ready to expand from in-store shopping sprees to a community boutique. free fab’rik is now open to the public with most merchandise priced from $2 to $20. Profits fund monthly sprees and a new six-month vocational training and mentorship program for women searching for a hand up.
The City of Refuge referred the first four participant stylists, including Chosen and LaSae. Over a six-month period, free fab’rik will teach them retail job skills and provide mentors to foster personal, professional and spiritual growth. Once these women complete the paid training program this spring, they will have a job reference and assistance in finding a permanent position.
Chosen is grateful for the opportunity. “I can learn from here. I was down before. This is a step.” She likes learning skills that she can apply to her own life. As Chosen learns how to track store expenses, she can apply those life skills to managing her own money and career.
LaSae has a sweet way with customers and enjoys helping them pick out their clothes. Thanks to free fab’rik, her message to other struggling women is “Don’t give up. Stay strong. Keep looking forward. You are valuable. You have support. You can work toward a safe home and a job that you will love.”
free fab’rik is located at 1114 West Peachtree St. in Midtown. Visit freefabrik.org to volunteer, drop off your donations, shop with aid of a stylist, or make a gift.