It all began in early 2016, when Jocee Porter was volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters between classes in computer engineering at the U. She met a 16-year-old girl who recently lost her father and couldn’t afford a prom dress. Porter wanted to help, so she reached out to her friends and quickly found her one.
That would have been the end of the story, but Porter kept talking to friends about what she had done, more people asked for her help, and she kept collecting more dresses. Pretty soon, she had more dresses than she knew what to do with. “I had all of these dresses anyway, and I thought, ‘Why not start something with it?’” she said.
Her solution was starting a company, Celebrate Everyday, and she has now collected more than 250 dresses. Her company is based out of her parents’ house; the dresses fill their theater room. Through her company, Porter provides the dresses for free to women across Utah.
Porter had no idea how popular her company would be. She spends 20 hours per week receiving requests, meeting with clients and caring for the dresses. She has had to limit her advertising because she can’t keep up with demand, while also maintaining her grades and everything else she does. And in winter 2016, she partnered with the Tim Tebow Foundation and Genesis Project to provide over 100 dresses to the annual special needs prom, Night to Shine, held in Salt Lake City.
Learn about Celebrate Everyday by visiting their Facebook page: facebook.com/celebrateeverydayorg.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2017 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.