OTTUMWA — In her junior year of high school, Brei Holmes didn’t attend prom because she could not afford a prom dress.
That instance, and hearing mothers talk about how expensive homecoming and prom dresses were, led her to start “Bless This Dress” seven years ago. She said girls deserve to have dresses that are the fraction of a cost.
“I always say that prom dreams are possible,” Holmes said. “Instead of having retail prices at five [hundred] to $600, $700, we try to keep it anywhere from $200 to $299. Once it hits $300 very few people are gonna want to buy it.”
High school girls can get inexpensive dresses at the Bless This Dress resale from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Quincy Place Mall.
Sales will go on for four weekends. The last sale will be from noon to 4 p.m. March 8.
Girls can look forward to seeing about 400 dresses. There will be a lot of hard work and hours of preparation for Holmes, but it’s something she looks forward to. “I really just like to give back to all the girls and to everyone who will walk in,” she said.
Her goals are to sell anywhere from 20 dresses in a weekend resale to give back to Team Tijuana Mexico, a missions organization seeking money to raise funds for their trip. Girls also have the opportunity to make some profit of their own.
“They can come in and sell their dresses,” she said. “We are accepting dresses now and they will get 20 percent commission while the rest will go toward Team Tijuana.”
In the seven years of sales, Holmes said she had her share of memories and “success stories.”
“There was this girl who really loved this dress, but her grandmother and mother said it was too expensive,” she said. “I didn’t want her to leave without the dress so I asked the cosigner if they’d be willing to cut the price in half. They were willing to do that and the grandma was so happy she started crying and the girl was just beaming with joy.”
“It’s the whole thing that makes it worth it,” she said. “It’s also good for the girls to have fun and get the experience of prom. A prom dress can totally build her self-esteem and confidence. It’s a good challenge to make her feel like a princess and pretty — even though she is pretty, she’s just glammed up. It’s amazing how they look at themselves and want to look good. It’s something I always look forward to with each dress resale. People should just come and take advantage of this and have a positive experience.”