For the next few months, Sam Sisakhti will travel around the country delivering holiday party dresses to underprivileged girls while also bringing in motivational speakers to lecture the recipients about cyberbullying and positive body image.
The tour, which includes the District, is part of the Believe in Yourself Project, a nonprofit founded by Sisakhti that’s dedicated to providing new, unworn designer dressers for girls to wear to holiday affairs and school-related functions.
“I operate a marketplace where fashion designers upload their products for sale on my site,” he said. “Over the years I would receive samples for my designers and I used to give the products to celebrities, but eventually I thought that I should make better use of the clothing.”
Sisakhti, who founded UsTrendy, the world’s largest fashion marketplace for young women and juniors, said he began going into low-income areas and dropping off the dresses.
The organization targets low-income areas and works with after-school centers and Boys & Girls Clubs to host events where they give away the dresses.
Currently, Sisakhti said he’s seeking to raise awareness for speakers and mentors who would want to contribute locally.
“We do this year round so we provide dresses for whatever maybe going on at the time,” he said. “In the fall, we did back-to-school dresses and homecoming dresses. In the winter, we do holiday dresses and New Year’s Eve party dresses and, in the spring, we do prom dresses.”
The efforts were appreciated, Sisakhti said.
“With the holidays coming up, there is so much emphasis on shopping and little consideration for the fact that some families can’t afford to have an extravagant holiday shopping season, so I wanted to deliver holiday and New Year’s Eve dresses to underprivileged girls during holidays,” Sisakhti said.
Many female teens are up against social standards that are not only unhealthy, but oftentimes unaffordable, Sisakhti said.
In an effort to close that gap, the Believe in Yourself Project is dedicated to the gainful advancement and strengthening of young women with a gift of confidence, he said.
The organization believes that every young woman should feel confident regardless of her physicality or financial circumstance. The project seeks to reverse some of the negative messages prevalent today to help young girls believe in themselves, Sisakhti said.
“Each shopping season, there is so much emphasis on shopping, with very little consideration for the reality that many girls from low-income families cannot afford to partake in extravagant shopping,” he said. “To combat this, Believe in Yourself donates brand new dresses to these families. We make donations all throughout the year for various special occasions coming up.”
Currently, Sisakhti plans to purchase dresses from those who sell on his own website and other retailers while also hoping that some will simply donate dresses.
The plan is to begin delivering as many as 10,000 dresses over the next year.
“We hope to come to [Washington] within the next few months,” Sisakhti said. “We are actively looking for speakers and mentors in the area, so if you are interested in speaking to the girls during the donation, please reach out to us.”
Since he’s become increasingly concerned with cyberbullying, Sisakhti wants to do something about that, too.
“These observations [about cyberbullying] inspired me to infuse speakers and mentors into the Believe in Yourself Project,” he said. “The mentorship programs and online seminars will be interactive and open table discussions where influential women will mentor and have discussions with the girls about positive body image and anti-cyberbullying.”
For more information, go to www.believeinyourself.org.