1010 WINS — When Brandeis University graduate Sam Sisakhti founded UsTrendy in 2008, his initial idea was to create a marketplace for upstart fashion designers in an industry which can be one of the hardest to break into as an aspiring artist.

Sisakhti understood that young consumers no longer wanted their couture dictated by fashion elites and created a platform to provide indie fashion designers the opportunity to have their work seen, produced, and distributed.

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In his travels, Sisakhti eventually became concerned about the rampant cyber-bullying and body-shaming that has proliferated online platforms over the years, compounded by the societal pressures that many young girls experience while trying to “fit in” and keep up to date with current trends.

(Photo: Sam Siskahti)

Sisakhti realized that not every girl has the means to drop hundreds of dollars on the latest styles, so he came up with a vision to ensure young girls never have to feel ashamed about their clothing.

Believe In Yourself Project (Photo: Sam Siskahti)

Enter the ‘Believe in Yourself Project,’ a non-profit foundation he created to provide needy girls with beautiful dresses for school functions while at the same time aiming to promote a positive body image through female speakers and mentors.

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Since beginning to take in donations at the end of 2016, Sisakhti has distributed thousands of dresses to underprivileged girls around the country to wear to their school dances.

“Originally the dresses were actually samples that were given to me by the designers for the retail marketplace which I run called UsTrendy,” Sisakhti tells 1010 WINS. “I used to give the samples to celebrities,” he explains, “and at one point I’m thinking ‘they have enough clothes,’ so I started going into low-income areas and giving out the dresses. Then, I ran out of samples and started buying the clothes wholesale from the designers on my website or just going to other retailers and buying dresses.

“The goal is, ultimately, to have other retailers join the cause and donate dresses. Everything we want we want to be new with the tags on it because we really want the girls to feel empowered and not feel like a charity case getting a hand-me-down but feel like they’re getting a brand new item of clothing.”

To make a donation, learn more, or get involved visit BelieveInYourself.org.

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-Joe Cingrana