Smart Works Reading charity work with all women who have been out of work and need help to regain their confidence. The only criteria is that they have an interview lined up and need a helping hand. Many women are referred to the organisation through Job Centre Plus, mental health charities, ex-offender rehabilitation and local women’s networks.
As part of our ongoing support of the Smart Works charity and to celebrate the launch of our new Autumn/Winter collection of the classic Hanover bag, we are excited to announce that for one month we have pledged to donate one bag to Smart Works for every KNOMO Hanover bag that is sold, either in one of our stores or through our website.
Since Smart Works began in 2015, we have been working with them and have supplied over 150 bags. Our bags add the finishing touch to the women's new professional outfits and protect their laptops on their way to their interviews. “A lot of the women who come to see us aren’t in a position to buy a new bag, so to have something so practical that looks great too is really special.”
68% of all the women who visit Smart Works Reading are successful in getting a job, at which point they return to Smart Works to pick out a capsule wardrobe to give them variety as they begin their new role, and to remove that initial pressure of having a professional working wardrobe when their financial situation might be difficult.
“We give the women an hour-long styling session to find an outfit that is appropriate for them and the job that they’re going for” explained Sarah Burns, Chair of Smart Works Reading. “We help them to find clothes that will bring out their confidence, as some may not have worn ‘smart’ or professional clothes in a long time. Having a beautiful piece of jewellery and a professional bag completes the outfit and is a chance to add in a touch of personality!”
Next, the women have an hour-long one-to-one interview coaching session with a volunteer trained HR professional to help the women talk through their transferable skills, as Sarah explained “people forget that budgeting or managing a household is amazing experience, there’s no such thing as just being a mum!”
International Women's Day Project
To celebrate International Women's Day, our team travelled to Smart Works Reading on March 13th to deliver the bags we curated for the working women of tomorrow. We were enthusuatic to support this great cause because many of our UK team live in the Thames Valley area.
In total, we were able to donate 40 bags following our International Women’s Day and Award campaign. We are delighted to donate unused design and salesman samples and give them a new home with women who are taking a crucial new step in their lives.
We donated a range of KNOMO products ranging from backpacks to handbags, work totes and organisers, with styles as varied as the women and the roles they are interviewing for. Smart Works Reading can see up to five women a day, totaling between 350-400 women a year - with the ages ranging from 16-67 and roles such as lab technicians and policy advisors to care workers and retail assistants, and everything in between. We are happy to make KNOMO a part of these women's journey.
We were very impressed with our visit to Smart Works - the fitting room was organised to a T. The suits, dresses, trousers, tops and more - all from sizes 6 to 32 - were all hung up and waiting to help women regain their confidence in the workplace.
As a growing business, it can be challenging to prioritise supporting those less fortunate than ourselves. Often looking the part is half the battle to believing that you are who you really are and want to be. We’re thankful for an organisation such as Smart Works Reading as a way for us provide meaningful support and socially focused channel to the business.
We look forward to continuing working together even more in the future!