CALGARY -- Making Changes Association and Dress for Success Calgary started talking about a merger 18 months ago.

The two charities have co-existed in Calgary for many years with the shared vision of a world where women are economically empowered and inspired to create change and make meaningful contributions to the community.

One way they do that is by providing clients with gently-used fashionable clothing and accessories at no cost to help them look and feel their best so they can enter the workforce with confidence.

“Our mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing professional attire, development tools and a network of support so they can thrive and work,” said Ayden Athwal, the Dress for Success Calgary board chair.

Dress for Success Calgary will operate as part of the broader Making Changes organization alongside its other pre-existing programs: My Best Friend’s Closet, Employment and Life Skills, and Women in Technology.

“The vision and mission are 100 percent the same,” said Cathy Coutts, the executive director of the Making Changes Association. “We just felt that it was almost prudent on us to eliminate the duplication on the market.”

Community of women

Making Changes and Dress for Success Calgary will move ahead as a community of women helping women through life transitions by providing them with the skills and resources to effectively pursue meaningful work, educational, and volunteer opportunities.

Dress for Success Calgary’s staff will be absorbed into the Making Changes team and will take up residency at the Making Changes offices.

Volunteers from both organizations have given positive feedback and will continue to support the new program at Making Changes.

“They recognize that it’s all about collaboration over competition,” said Athwal. “And that their donor dollars will go much further if we work together.”

“Being able to eliminate duplication so that we can build more programs and address any gaps in the market that women are experiencing right now rather than duplicating efforts,” said Coutts. “What really excites me is that we’re going to be bigger and stronger together.”

Through the shared vision and values of both organizations, the merger will improve efficiencies in program delivery, maximizing the quality and range of services offered and increasing the number of women served.

Staff and volunteers at Dress for Success Calgary are in the process of packing up the Inglewood Boutique and will start moving inventory to Making Changes by mid-December. Both programs should be fully integrated in January.

Learn more about the two organizations that are becoming one here: and