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Danielle Skeen, Founder & Executive Director of The Star Boutique, Inc.

Base Of Operations: New York, N.Y.

Why she is a Community Hero:  Danielle Skeen and The Star Boutique empowers underprivileged teenage girls by providing them with fashion and life makeovers, providing life skills workshops and clothes in a bid to boost the self-esteem of the young ladies.

For many underprivileged teenage girls in large cities, trying to find one’s identity when the odds are seemingly against you can be tough to navigate. With the added impact of self-esteem issues and other factors, some of these young ladies may feel that there isn’t anyone pulling for their success. Thanks to efforts of Ms. Danielle Skeen, girls in New York undergoing such hard times are getting help in areas where it matters most.

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Ms. Skeen is the founder and Executive Director of The Star Boutique, Inc., an initiative she began to provide young girls with important life tools along with giving them a full fashion and lifestyle makeover. While the draw is certainly the prospect of getting a brand new look, the boutique aims to empower the girls on the inside as well.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for teenage girls, especially girls that had low self-esteem, low-confidence because I was one of those girls,” explained Ms. Skeen. “Our target demographic are aged 13 to 18, so these girls are teenagers and for many teenagers, regardless of what you’re going through, clothes is it.”

Ms. Skeen added, “I’ve worked with teenage girls before in nonprofits and one thing that I noticed is that if you tell them ‘I want you to come to this workshop because we’re going to explore confidence,’ most teenage girls aren’t going to take lightly to that.”

As Ms. Skeen wisely noted, most of the girls relish their weekends like any other person so she recognizes how tough it is to have participants in the program and them forgoing other activities. However, the clothing and makeover angle works in getting the young ladies to the workshops which they must attend before going through the boutique for clothing, shoes and accessories.

“So once the girls come, before they can start the shopping portion, we do our workshop,” said Ms. Skeen. “We let them know that, yes, you’re going to leave here with new clothes, you’re going to get your hair done, you’re going to get your makeup done. Everything is free, but at the end of the day, we want to make sure when you guys leave that you feel as beautiful as you look.”

Ms. Skeen also shared that The Star Boutique’s efforts are aided fully by volunteers, which includes the hair stylists, makeup artists, nail technicians, life coaches and consultants that greet the girls during the workshops and shopping event. Although the volunteers are made up of professionals in their respective fields, they work for free in an effort to give back to the community.

Like most initiatives of this sort, the financial costs of finding a host venue, promoting the event, providing necessary material and the like will incur costs. Ms. Skeen has stated that she and her team would like to expand their efforts, but can’t do so without monetary contributions from the public. A quick visit to the boutique’s website provides all the information necessary for one to learn more.

Ms. Skeen, a graduate of Florida State University, runs The Star Boutique with Tanesha Ingram, the Director of Community Outreach, and Latoya Westbrooks, who serves as the Director of External Affairs.

To read more about The Star Boutique and to donate to their cause, click here.