FICE’s first fashion show

Casey MP Aaron Violi, Renee Cooke, Maria Vassilopoulos and Andy Popkiss enjoyed the high tea on Saturday 29 July. Pictures: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla Van Loon

In another effort to empower and embrace all women, First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) partnered with the Rotary Club of Lilydale (RCL) to host its first fashion show.

Having been approached by Rotary to help raise funds for the not for profit organisation, it quickly evolved from being just a high tea afternoon to a display of self confidence through fashion.

“We always love getting volunteers involved in these events. It’s something that is quite empowering for them to do,” FICE coordinator Renee Cooke said.

“So we’ve got a few of our volunteers who were models on the day and also a couple of Cire staff who were going models as well.”

Originally having planned the event for earlier in the year, Renee said ticket sales weren’t all that great so it was postponed to Saturday 29 July which became a sold out event of nearly 100 people.

From the ticket sales, raffles and auctions, Renee said it all adds up to supporting the FICE programs and reaching the fundraising goal.

“We’re doing this as a not for profit and charitable organisation, we rely on community funding and grants to keep our programs going and sustainable,” she said.

“Our target was to raise $10,000 to put towards workshops so we can provide empowering workshops that open up new pathways for women to achieve their goals.”

Partnering with RCL for the first time, Renee said she hoped it was something that would continue, especially in making the high tea and fashion show an annual event.

“It’s really important we have those partnerships with the community to bring awareness to what Rotary does as well as to what we do,” she said.

Renee said FICE is constantly growing, with more and more community groups and businesses latching onto what they are doing and aiming to achieve.

“People have really gotten behind the whole concept of what we’re doing and how we’re trying to support people in our community.

“We’re growing all the time. It’s just one of those things that the more people hear about us, then the more that work gets spread and the more people can engage with our services.

“That community connectedness is such an important process in supporting people through their personal goals, their work goals, their educational goals. Having the word about us get out there in the community, of people acknowledging or knowing about what we do, it just makes it so much more accessible for others.”

With positions always available for women to take part in the FICE training program either at Yarra Junction or Lilydale, Renee said there is flexibility in hours and support.

“Some people come to us to be mentored or to have that opportunity to gain some skills. Then others will come in because they want to be more community minded, give back, create friendships, create that community connection.”

For those who want to support FICE and other women, Renee said the shop is a great option for buying sustainably, with all proceeds then feeding back into the programs.

“FICE is for everybody. There’s that sustainability side to shopping second hand. It’s not only affordable and sustainable, you can get some amazing outfits and pieces at really great prices.

“We would like the public to know that anyone can come and shop with us, anyone can come and donate to us but we do have that extra layer if you do need additional support we’re also there for you as well.”