LAWRENCE — When you look good, you feel good, as the saying goes.

And that saying is the principle that fuels Uncommon Threads, a Lawrence nonprofit that helps empower and enrich the lives of women in need through fashion.

“Our self-esteem goes way up when we like what we are wearing and how we look. Clothes are a way of lifting people up,” said Susan Kanoff, founder of Uncommon Threads at 60 Island St.

Uncommon Threads assists women in need, whether they be domestic violence survivors, in recovery, unemployed, underemployed or homeless.

The organization provides outfits for job interviews, parties, special events and even just everyday looks.

“If someone needs our help, we will help them,” said Kanoff, speaking to a group organized by attorney Kelly Longtin, a Methuen resident.

Longtin, a partner with DeBruyckere Law Offices, regularly hosts estate planning workshops. She is always looking for ways to give back to the communities the law offices serve.

At an event last week at Angelica’s in Middleton, those who attended were asked to bring a purse or handbag to donate to an Uncommon Threads client or to be sold in the charity’s Uncommon Boutique.

The boutique, also at 60 Island St., is open to the public Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is a fundraising arm for Uncommon Threads.

Kanoff told the group about some women Uncommon Threads helped recently, including one from Guatemala who had been gang raped and doused with acid but escaped “terrible violence.”

A local church connected the woman to Uncommon Threads.

“My heart just went out to this woman,” Kanoff said. “She is living in safety now.”

In addition to providing the woman with clothing, volunteers also “reached into our own handbags and gave her whatever cash we had,” said Kanoff, an Andover native and Methuen resident.

“We are about dignity and respect ... an oasis for women to escape life hardships,” she said. “And it’s working. It’s like an instant transformation. It’s truly powerful.”

Kanoff said the goal this year is to serve 1,000 women and hopefully enlarge the organization’s work space.

“Social workers have told us a session at Uncommon Threads is better than therapy,” she said.

In the future, Kanoff also hopes to launch a women’s mentoring group called Uncommon Friends.

Uncommon Threads is always looking for donations of new or like new clothing, handbags, purses, jewelry, shoes and sneakers.

“The only thing we ask is that it be in style,” Kanoff said.

Monetary donations and volunteers are also welcomed.

For more information and to make a donation, check out or call 978-219-9559.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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