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Girls Inc. dresses for success

By Steve Krause | April 21, 2020

LYNN — We’ve all heard of dressing for success. But how about selling dresses for success?

That’s what Girls Inc. hopes to accomplish during what’s left of April.

Throughout the month, the Lynn non-profit agency geared to empowering school-age girls is trying to make up for the money it’s lost in contributions — specifically its annual celebration luncheon fundraiser — with the  help of Melissa Lorenzo-Herve and her Pirouette boutique that designs and sells dresses. 

Lornezo-Herve, who lives in Marblehead, has hit upon what she feels is a unique fashion niche — selling all-day dresses.

And during April, she has donated 10 percent of any dress she sells in her direct-to-consumer business to Girls lnc. 

“We’re just happy to support Girls Inc.,” said Lorenzo-Herve. Her involvement in Girls Inc. goes back several years, she said, beginning when she took part in a panel of women entrepreneurs. She ended up being on the panel for the Girls Inc. scholarship after that.

“I’ve always loved what they’re doing,” she said. “I’m glad to be able to do something now. 

“Because of (Gov. Charlie Baker’s social distancing rules), Girls Inc. had to cancel its luncheon. And they couldn’t put it on another day. I was going to attend that.”

Her neighbor in Marblehead, Donna Crotty,  is the fundraising director for Girls Inc. and “once I found out the event was canceled, and that they were looking for support, I was happy to be able to come up with this.”

Lorenzo-Herve, who moved to Marblehead from New York three years ago, describes an all-day dress as an outfit a woman can wear from sunup through the end of the evening. 

“Men can wear a suit to work in the daytime and then never have to change if they’re going out to a function at night,” she said. “With women,  it’s different.”

She says there’s business attire and varying combinations of social attire, “and what I sell is kind of an all-purpose dress for all occasions. 

“I just saw a need,” she said. “I used to work in New York, and I’d see people schlepping around with bags, changing in ladies’ rooms, and it just struck me that it can be really difficult,” she said. “It can be overwhelming to open our closets and have to make different decisions.

“More women now are trying to do more with less, to spend less money on clothes.”

Girls Inc. executive director Deb Ansourlian said she’s grateful to Lorenzo-Herve for what she’s done with the organization.

“She’s been involved with us for three years,” she said. “She came to our luncheon and liked us. She’s been involved with career-speaking and teen programs. Mostly she was on our committee to choose our Girl  Hero, which is our recognition of our (high school) seniors.”

While Ansourlian said Girls Inc. is looking into holding its annual celebration virtually, money brought in by Lorenzo-Herve’s undertaking will help immeasurably.

In the meantime, she said, Girls Inc. is doing its best to run its programs virtually. In some cases, it has had to take computers from its headquarters on High Street and lend them out to clients who do not have them. 

“We’ve changed how we’re programming to a virtual online model. We’re still able to support our girls socially, emotionally and academically with literacy programs, homework help, mentoring programs and leadership. We are doing some STEM programs virtually too. 

“We are still connected to these girls and their families,” she said.

Girls Inc.  has not had to lay off any staff. 

“We’re grateful and happy about that,” Ansourlian said. “We have strong supporters who are continuing their support.”

Consult to contact Lorenzo-Hervé.