BALTIMORE — For the next few months, Sam Sisakhti will be traveling around the country delivering holiday dresses to underprivileged girls while also bringing in motivational speakers to lecture the recipients about cyber-bullying and positive body image.
The tour, which includes a stop in Baltimore, is part of “The Believe in Yourself Project,” a nonprofit founded by Sisakhti dedicated to providing new, unworn designer dresses for girls to wear to holiday affairs and later, to school-related functions.
“I operate a marketplace where fashion designers upload their products for sale on my site. Over the years I would receive samples from my designers and I used to give the products to celebrities but eventually I thought that I should make better use of the clothing,” Sisakhit said, explaining how he started the nonprofit.
Sisakhti, the founder of UsTrendy, the world’s largest fashion marketplace for young women and juniors, added that he started 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 the dresses are handed out.
Sisakhti says that he is 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 [will] do prom dresses.”
The efforts were appreciated, Sisakhti said.
“With the holidays coming up there is so much emphasis on shopping with little consideration for the fact that some families can’t afford 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 unobtainable social standards, which are not only unhealthy, but oftentimes unaffordable, Sisakhti noted. 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.
The organization believes that every young woman should feel confident regardless of her physicality or financial circumstances and the project seeks to reverse some of the negative messages that are prevalent today and change them to one of positivity to help young girls believe in themselves, according to Sisakhti.
“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 purchases dresses from vendors who sell on his website and other retailers but he hopes that some of the businesses 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 Baltimore within the next few months. 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,” Sisakhti said.
Additionally, since Sisakhti has become increasingly concerned about cyber-bullying and wants to do something about that as well.
The rise in the number of incidences in cyber-bullying have inspired him to recruit speakers and mentors to be part of the ‘Believe in Yourself’ project. The mentors will provide the girls with tips and strategies to deal with cyber-bully and inspire and encourage them to pursue their dreams.
The plan is that the mentorship programs and online seminars will be interactive with open table discussions where influential women from the community will address topics like positive body image, cyber bullying, the importance of education and other life skills.
For more information, visit http://www.believeinyourself.org