On Tuesday April 19, the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for Tiger Threads Boutique, a student-run “store” at Dawson County High School that is aimed at providing professional clothing to DCHS students who are in the workforce or internships.
Madelyn Lee and Abagail Darlow, who are both juniors at DCHS and members of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), first started Tiger Threads when Work-Based Learning/Youth Apprenticeship Coordinator Kristy Moore told them about the need for high school students to have professional attire as they enter the workforce, take on internships or participate in work-based learning programs.
“We started this because Ms. Moore came to FCCLA and she really wanted to do something for her students in the work-based learning program or that have internships or just students that she knew that had jobs,” Lee said. “She saw that there was a need that a lot of them could not afford the clothes they needed for those; so they would come to her and say, you know, ‘Ms. Moore, I need black scrubs and I can’t just go out and buy black scrubs for five days a week’, so she came to Lori Grant and Lori came to us and thought that maybe we could do this.”
Lee and Darlow jumped on the idea and began going around the community, collecting clothing and funding for the boutique and letting fellow students at the high school know about their project. According to Darlow, the boutique gained traction quickly with students who needed the clothes it offered.
“We’ve had lots of customers already, and they’ve told Ms. Moore and Ms. Grant that it’s just so wonderful to get that opportunity to get their first outfit and be able to participate in the work-based learning or the work field, so it’s really been a great success,” Darlow said. “It took a lot of hard work but it turned out really awesome and it’s totally worth it.”
Tiger Threads collects donations from the community, ranging from new dress clothes or professional attire to monetary and gift card donations that the students then use to purchase clothing to have in the boutique. Students who need the clothing offered through Tiger Threads don’t have to pay for it, but rather are allowed to pick out and keep what they need for their job or work-based learning.
“This is available to any student in the school, it doesn’t just have to be a work-based learning student, it’s any student in the school who needs something specific for a job,” Moore said. “We also host mock interviews every year so some students might not have clothes appropriate for an interview; we have students participating in competitions so they might need something specific for competitions… and they get to keep it so they have it for the next time.”
Lee and Darlow will continue to run Tiger Threads next year during their senior year, but added that they would love to pass it on to students younger than them and make it a project run each year by juniors at the high school.
Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Director Amy Smith said that being able to offer a program like Tiger Threads at the high school is a helpful step toward the school being able to help students succeed.
“Half of what we do in education is removing barriers for students,” Smith said. “We take the ‘I can’t’ away so that when a student comes to us and says ‘I can’t take this job because I don’t have work boots’ we’re going to remove that barrier immediately by taking care of the boots for them.”
Before cutting the ribbon, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mandy Power applauded Lee and Darlow for their idea and their hard work to make Tiger Threads happen.
“It’s such an amazing way to give back to the community and to give back to the students here; we have a phenomenal work-based learning program that is gonna benefit from this,” Power said. “This plays a vital role because if they feel confident with what they’re wearing and how they’re presenting themselves, that’s miles ahead of where they’d be otherwise.”
Students representing Tiger Threads will be at the North Georgia Premium Outlets on Friday April 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The outlet mall will sponsor the students to tell shoppers about their mission, and students will collect donations from anyone who wants to purchase an item to give to the boutique.
For more information about donating to Tiger Threads or how to drop off donations, call Dawson County High School at 706-265-6555 or go by the College and Career Academy at 1665 Perimeter Road.