First Impressions Clothing Exchange

A group of women from FICE

First Impressions Clothing Exchange (FICE) opened in mid-2019 and was originally established as a place where long-term unemployed women of the Yarra Ranges and surrounds could learn skills within an operating retail space in order to develop their professional skills. FICE works to provide women with affordable, quality clothing, suitable for every day, job interviews or other important occasions.

In the past 12 months, they have assisted approximately 20 women to undertake retail training FICE has also hosted many workshops on subjects such as: understanding your superannuation, resume writing, re-purposing clothes, designing and making fascinators, art therapy, clothes styling, makeup classes, English classes and more.  Women who come to FICE also receive enormous support and interact with local women who are from a broad range of demographics and socio-economic backgrounds.

FICE participant Olivia said, "I was referred to FICE as a jobseeker after the school I was working at couldn’t afford to keep me. Little did I know that I would leave the program a couple of months later with boosted confidence, genuine friends and with gratitude for having been part of something so progressive and inspiring."

Under the guidance of Cire Services (formerly Upper Yarra Neighbourhood House), FICE’s social support model for women is unique to the region.  Its innovative and bold approach to empowering women and fostering meaningful community engagement has ensured that the benefits and value to the community go much deeper.  Renee Cooke, Cire First Impressions Project Co-ordinator said, “the volunteers who work in the shop, receive a huge boost to their confidence and self-esteem, they gain a sense of purpose and pride, as well as developing skills which are sought by employers, particularly in the retail sector.”