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Dressed for a Change: Interview with Chanèle McFarlane

Chanèle McFarlane, founder and editor-in-chief of Do Well Dress Well, is passionate about helping women succeed in style. In our interview, she shares why Dressember was a perfect (and fashion-forward) way to make statement about the rights and dignity of women across the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Where do I even start? I think I would start by saying that I’m a proud wife, daughter, friend and big sister, who just so happens have a passion for creating valuable content and event experiences to empower women to succeed in style. As the founder of Do Well Dress Well, I run a website that provides content on everything from personal branding, networking and entrepreneurship to style and career advice. I also host a fun, intimate networking series for women called ideate networking to allow women to make meaningful connections that enhance their personal and professional success.
How did you learn about IJM Canada?

Well I’m very lucky that my cousin works for IJM Canada, so I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the organization through her. I’ve also learned a lot through doing my own research and have come to understand the mission of IJM and that it’s really aligned with my mission and values.

Why are you passionate about issues of injustice?

My passion for what I do really stems from being a victim of injustice myself. Although I don’t think it’s comparable to the victims that we’re supporting through Dressember, I think it goes back to my experience of being bullied in elementary school. I think that’s really impacted me in terms of what I want to achieve. When I was going through that it obviously impacted my confidence and my self-esteem and now through Do Well Dress Well my mission is to empower other women. So I guess I’m taking back the confidence that I lost during those years.

Why did you choose to participate in Dressember this year?

My mission is very aligned with the values of Dressember. I’ve always felt a special connection to dresses. I wear them all the time, but I’ve also worn them for all the moments I consider to be important in my life— from graduation to my wedding day to most recently resigning from my job and taking a leap of faith to run Do Well Dress Well full time. All the memorable moments of my life I’ve worn a dress, so I think that if I can use that to empower other women and help victims of injustice then that’s a bonus for me!

How do you plan to stay warm in Canadian weather?

Oh my goodness! That is always a challenge. I don’t know if I’ve mastered it because the cold feels even colder every year. I would definitely say layers are key. In the winter, I layer up with a lot of cozy cardigans, sweaters, scarves, and my number one item is fleece-lined tights. I would not be able to get through a Canadian winter without these tights. I have about ten pairs because if something happens to one then I’m okay, but it’s definitely fleece-lined everything! Fleece-lined tights, fleece-lined socks, and a fleece-lined sweater. I don’t play!

What’s your fundraising goal for the campaign? How do you plan to achieve it?

My goal right now is around $350 minimum and I plan to really leverage my personal and professional network. They’ve been really helpful in supporting me and building Do Well Dress Well so I know I can turn to them when it comes to a campaign as meaningful as this. Also, as a I go back and re-evaluate my finances for this year, I would like to take a portion of my 2017 earnings to donate to the campaign.

How are you using your business to support justice and freedom for women everywhere?

Do Well Dress Well is a platform that empowers women to succeed in style. What that means is that we have the site which is a go-to resource for women and our events that are centered around creating genuine connections with other women. It’s really about community. I truly believe that empowered women empower other women and I try to encourage my readers to find that community of people around them who will build them up to be the best that they can be.
Do Well Dress Well encourages women to discover what makes them remarkable and to confidently express that wherever they are so whether it’s online, on their LinkedIn profile or in person in an interview. I believe that there’s freedom in really accepting who you are and the things that make you unique. So that’s what I try to communicate through the Do Well Dress Well platform.
Discover what makes you remarkable and express that wherever you are. There is freedom in doing that and that’s what I aim for.

How do you plan to change the world?

By creating a worldwide community of remarkable, empowered and stylish women (that love to wear dresses and fleece-lined tights) [laughs].

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Well I definitely plan to expand Do Well Dress Well to be recognized at an international level. I’d also like to create a team because right now I am a one-woman show and it’s tiring but very gratifying at the same time - hiring other women would help so much!
I’d also like to diversify the offerings of Do Well Dress Well. Right now we have the site and the small-scale events that we host but I’d also like to include products and expand to larger scale events like conferences and retreats.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for anyone who wants to start a movement like Do Well Dress Well?

Just start it. Don’t let fear hold you back. I had the idea for many years, but the reason I didn’t start was because felt like the idea was crazy, and that no one would understand it and that it was just something that I would get and no one would relate to it. I always kick myself now when I think about what it would be now if I had started three or four years ago. So I would say go for it. You can always refine as you go, but don’t let the fear hold you back because there are always going to be people that will be able to connect to your movement.

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Viola Davis. She’s able to play a number of different roles and she’s very professional. I love the diversity of her acting and I’m someone that’s multi-dimensional as well so I think that she’d be able to capture all the different elements of my personality and also the business side as well.

What was your first job?

My first job I was a cashier at Giant Tiger. So that was my first ever role, I think I was in grade 11. I was there for a few months and I was very proud of that role. I had to leave because I ended up going away for a family thing and I wasn’t able to keep the job and do that. But I honestly would have stayed longer because I did really enjoy it!

What's your pet peeve?

I do have so many, but I think my number one is incorrect use of punctuation. I can’t stand when people use apostrophes incorrectly. It just makes my skin crawl! I don’t know why, but I just don’t like it [laughs].

How can people get in touch with you or donate to your campaign?

They can visit my website at I have a blog post about my Dressember campaign and there’s a direct link to my fundraising site in the post where you can donate.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Surround yourself with the right people. Whether it’s for personal or professional success, the people you have around you are key. You shouldn’t be around people who discourage you or don’t believe in your goals or your dreams. Having the right motivating people in your circle will help to elevate you.

This article is part of a series featuring the amazing individuals who offer their time and talents to fundraise for us.
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