Since Wear it Well stepped out in June 2017, the Tupelo-based nonprofit organization has grown beyond its initial vision to encompass an outreach to youth, community health and life skills mentoring. Founder Katina Holland started Wear It Well to honor her late grandmother Leona Givhan Davis, who made it her mission in life to care for others. Through its four programs, Wear It Well has touched thousands of people across Northeast Mississippi.

“My grandmother would be ecstatic about how many people we’ve helped,” Holland said. “She is sitting up in heaven, grinning.”

Initially, the goal for Wear It Well was to do a makeover each month, Holland said. In two years, volunteers have logged 48 makeovers with cancer survivors and those who have lived through traumatic events. Each makeover includes makeup and an outfit, but the volunteers often go the extra mile to help with unmet needs.

Breast cancer survivor Leslie Geoghegan said her Wear It Well makeover was uplifting physically and emotionally. During treatment, she felt she lost her sparkle along with her hair and and avoided mirrors. The volunteers invested so much time to make sure her makeover matched her style, including creating a bright pink custom wig.

“I loved looking in the mirror,” after the makeover. Geoghegan said. “It was a turning point in my recovery.”

Even though her cancer is in remission and her hair is growing back, Geoghegan still feels buoyed by the experience and the bright pink wig.

“It still sits on my piano in a place of honor,” Geoghegan said. “There’s no way I can ever say thank you.”

The Wear It Well volunteers say they get just as much out of the makeovers.

“It’s just a part of giving back and lifting others up,” said Chandra Pannell, owner and lead instructor at CROWNS salon and a Wear It Well volunteer. “It just gives me joy.”

When makeovers haven’t been practical, Wear It Well volunteers reached out with days of service, like making over a backyard or collecting more than 1,000 purses packed with toiletries for domestic violence shelters.

The Love the Skin You’re In program was born when Holland was asked to talk to middle school students. She drew on the expertise of school counselors and educators involved in Wear It Well to identify bullying, suicide and self-confidence as intertwined issues effecting youth. They helped her put together a presentation, and Holland added her own experience, the death of her 14-year-old niece by suicide. She talked frankly about the real world consequences.

Since January 2018, Wear It Well has presented the program to 2,220 students. The volunteers frequently have students reach out to them after presentations and they connect them with resources to help.

“It’s so rewarding,” Holland said.

Through its Health is Wealth program, Wear it Well has sponsored health fairs and events focused on men’s health, breast cancer, lupus and multiple myeloma.

Ready Set Goals works with individuals who need help entering the job market. A volunteer coach works with them on resumewriting and interviewing skills, Holland said. Wear It Well gives them a professional makeover and two outfits.

It’s been gratifying to watch more people get involved with Wear It Well and partner with local businesses including Kohl’s, CarMax, Toyota and ServiceMaster. Going forward, Wear It Well will focus on growing the four programs,” Holland said.

“It’s been a great two year journey.”