Cincy Chic: Sum up your career's journey in a few sentences for us…
Brynne Coletti: I went to Miami University, started in retail, went from retail to sales with a major national company and then shifted my energies to a variety of volunteer activities once I began a family.
Cincy Chic: What inspired you to start Kenzie's Closet?
Coletti: Kenzie's Closet was inspired by a young woman in my daughter's high school class who could not attend her senior prom because she could not afford to buy a prom dress. The embarrassment and disappointment I saw in this girl inspired me to do something. I contacted the school and the school informed this young woman that an anonymous donor heard about her plight and offered to pay her prom expenses. I soon began to realize that my daughter's friend was not unique. I got friends involved and we provided assistance to others and we soon realized what we were seeing was the tip of the iceberg. Someone needed to start Kenzie's Closet, so I did. Kenzie's Closet is named after Kenzie Comisar, who was killed in a single car accident in 2002 before she attended her senior prom.
Cincy Chic: How long has it been around and about how many people do you estimate that it's benefited?
Coletti: This past prom season was our second "official" year. The first year (2006) we ran our business from excess space Dress for Success was kind enough to loan us. That first year we put 135 young women in prom attire, dresses, shoes, jewelry, handbags, wraps etc. In 200,7 we dressed 282 young ladies. This year we hope to dress more than 500. Unfortunately, the need is there.
Cincy Chic: Tell us about your upcoming Bitter Bridesmaid Bash…
Coletti: The best part about it is it isn't our bash. Word is getting around about the need we are filling in our community and a group of amazing young women came to us and offered to help us raise awareness and hopefully money for Kenzie's Closet. We are very excited. This is the first fundraiser anyone has done for us. We hope to have 100 percent of our volunteer staff in attendance.
Cincy Chic: What does your favorite-dress-in-the-whole-wide-world look like?
Coletti: My favorite dress is the one that is on a young woman with the biggest smile you have ever seen because she is wearing a prom dress and anticipating an evening she never thought possible. That dress comes in all sizes and colors. We have had girls leave with prom dresses who had never had a dress of any kind on in their entire life. About half the girls have never worn heels; we give them lessons. It is a very moving moment when a girl finds the "right" dress. If I got to attend a prom, I would look through our racks for a Bagley Mischka simple black dress with a fishtail. I told my friend and our volunteer Tony Tiemeyer of 2700 Erie to make sure that is what I am buried in.
Cincy Chic: What's your favorite thing about Cincinnati?
Coletti: I love the people of Cincinnati. People genuinely care about their neighbors and especially our youth. The response we have had for volunteers has been overwhelming. We had to turn some away last year. But if you know any good seamstresses, let me know.
Learn more about Kenzie's Closet at www.kenziescloset.org.