Grace Myler, 18, of Shakopee, Minnesota, a senior at Shakopee High School, worked with her mother to start a nonprofit boutique that since 2016 has hosted more than 1,000 shopping appointments for teenage girls in need from across Minnesota, providing them with over $250,000 worth of donated new clothing, shoes, accessories and personal care items at no charge. When Grace was 10 years old, she heard about a teenager in California who had started a nonprofit called “Threads for Teens” that enables girls to pick out new, stylish clothes that they otherwise could never afford. Grace contacted the California teen for help in starting her own program. Three years later, the girl helped her launch her own nonprofit.
Initially, Threads for Teens Minnesota hosted two pop-up events to provide back-to-school clothes for girls from low-income or foster homes. It soon became apparent that a permanent space would make it possible to help more girls, so Grace and her mom searched for a permanent home. After almost a year of rejections, they finally secured space in a school district office building. Much of Grace’s time is spent raising money and finding clothing companies to donate clothing in all sizes. She also works with county social workers and school districts to identify girls in need who could benefit from the self-esteem and confidence boost that can come from new clothes. Clients typically visit the boutique three or four times a year, and take home apparel and other items worth an average of $250. “Many of our teens come into our boutique for the first time looking down and sad,” said Grace. “But when they leave, you wouldn’t believe the smiles on their faces!”