1 December 2022

Life Without Barriers, Baulkham Hills has transformed part of its Western Sydney office into a Boutique, offering free formal wear, interview attire and brand-name clothing for young people in out-of-home care.

High School formals are a right of passage for all Australian Students, however, getting your hair and make-up done and getting a new dress or suit isn’t accessible for all kids.

Child and Youth Education Consultant at Life Without Barriers, Lorna Genoud said the Baulkham Hill Boutique started over a year ago when one young girl was refused to attend her high school formal.

“We had one young girl who didn’t want to attend her formal, and after talking to her about it, we realised that she would love to attend but didn’t want to go because she couldn’t afford the new dress and was concerned about paying to get her hair, nails and makeup done,” Ms Genoud said.

“We were able to find her a second-hand dress that she loved and by reaching out to our local community we found people who were willing to donate free lash extensions, a spray tan and all her hair and makeup.

“From there, I knew this was a barrier for young people who just wanted to fit in, so we started helping kids with a mobile shop in my car, to a closet and now we’re working with a full boutique.

“Having a school formal experience matters to kids. We’re trying to create the opportunity to have the same formal experience that all kids have around this time of year, including enjoying the process of trying on dresses or suits to find something that makes you feel special.

The Boutique stocks outfits for young people from 12 years old including years 6, 10, and 12 formals, special occasions, and job interviews.

“By stocking clothes that are appropriate for job interviews, I think we are removing a barrier for young people, preventing them from feeling not confident enough to go for a job they want.

“I’ve had kids leave the boutique saying that they feel special and expensive. Just the other day we had a young person come in to find her year six formal dress – she looked at herself in front of the mirror and said, “I feel like a model”.

“That confidence makes all the difference.”

While the Boutique does take clothing donations, Lorna says ensuring the clothes in The Boutique are of great quality is key to the success of the shop.

“I've got a lot of good brands and really good quality clothing. We don’t take anything with stains, holes or that is too old because these kids deserve to have items in their wardrobe that they are proud of.

“Through working with Thread Together, we have been able to get brand new clothing with the tags still on or make special orders for people who need something in a specific size.

Life Without Barriers Baulkham Hills is looking to expand the Boutique to enable more young people to have their high school formal experience.

“It would be incredible if we could partner with services like hairdressers, make-up artists, barbers, or beauty services at a discounted rate to give more kids this special experience.

To find out more about The Boutique, or to enquire about donating please contact lorna.genoud@lwb.org.au

Related links

About Life Without Barriers

About us