Leadership students create boutique to increase prom accessibility

Leina Khan

On March 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a shop at the Corte Madera Village mall displaying racks of dresses, jewelry and shoes will be accessible to all students hoping to acquire prom necessities free of charge. 

Senior Leadership students Caroline Goodrich and Michael Geloso are some of the brains behind the idea of this prom shop. They were inspired by their realization that the memorable and infrequent opportunity to attend a high school prom is not always accessible to all students. 

“I come from a place of privilege where I don’t have to worry about how much [money] I am spending on a prom dress, whereas many people do,” Goodrich said.

Caroline Goodrich and Olivia Villanova stand proudly outside their newly arranged shop in the Town Center.
(Sam Kimball)

Goodrich and Geloso both noticed that prom dresses tend to be expensive and, for some, unaffordable. The two wanted to find a way to make prom attire more attainable and find a way to help cover transportation costs for students as well.

“I noticed how stressful and costly prom was last year; my friends worried about transportation and having a suit,” Geloso said. “The school has been great about providing aid for the tickets, but there are still a lot of overlooked aspects, and as Leadership students, [Goodrich] and I are hoping to close some of those barriers.” 

Goodrich and Geloso began brainstorming their project in December and initially met a few challenges, one being connecting with an organization that could help them acquire resources to distribute to the Redwood population. In February, with the help of fellow Leadership student Olivia Villanova, who was active in contacting dress companies, the three managed to overcome this obstacle.

Villanova originally pitched an idea of a prom dress exchange to her Leadership teachers in September only to find out Goodrich and Geloso were doing something similar.

Caroline Goodrich, Michael Geloso and Olivia Villanova show off the dresses available for students.
(Leina Khan)

“I met [Geloso and Goodrich] through Leadership and have worked on a few mini projects with them in the past. When I heard they were trying to start a prom dress affordability program I decided to work alongside them and take on the task of finding ways to get the dresses,” Villanova said.  

Villanova reached out to multiple companies and managed to successfully connect with Birdy Grey and Prom USA, dress companies that specialize in formal event attire. In total, the dress companies have been able to provide 300 dresses for the project. 

Aside from companies, the group has also received a donation of 100 dresses from the local community, creating a total of over 400 dresses available for students.

To promote more community involvement, Goodrich, Geloso and Villanova have started a prom dress drive at Redwood, where students can drop off their dresses in room 105. This gives students an opportunity to assist with the project by providing extra or unwanted attire for those who are interested.

The Leadership students have received a large amount of support in managing the project from the assistant principals’ secretary, Tanya Jaspering. Jaspering has been working alongside Goodrich and Geloso to find ways to connect with the families that would primarily benefit from the project to ensure they receive the garments and accessories needed. 

Displayed on a clothing rack, dresses provided by Birdy Grey and Prom USA will be available for students to try on this upcoming weekend. (Sam Kimball)

“Our target is to make sure that all Redwood students know that they can ask for anything they need and will be responded to,” Jaspering said. “We are making sure that no one misses out on opportunities to have the best experience they can while they’re here [at Redwood].”

With the help of the community, the group was able to find its own space for students to pick up and try on dresses themselves.  There are also a total of 20 private appointments available where students can pick their dresses and receive a makeup demonstration as well.

“The project has been going great so far. I’m so excited to see the results of all our hard work; hopefully the students love it,” Villanova said. 

 With the help of the community and the prom dress companies, Geloso, Goodrich and Villanova all hope to successfully enable students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to experience a memorable prom alongside their classmates. All who are interested are welcome to come to the storefront this weekend to shop, as the ideas of the Leadership trio come to life!