by Rachel Holt, photography by Mark Dyrud

“Originally we had built a teen center and decided to give away prom dresses. Within 3 weeks we had 100 dresses and when we opened we had a line of 100 people. Every girl walked away with a dress, it was so sweet. We really want the teens to feel beautiful, loved and worthy,” said Monica Stamper, Founder of Dresstraveganza.

Dresstraveganza is an Idaho non-profit that was founded in Boise in the spring of 2009. They are a local boutique developed to meet the needs of teens in the area and provide dresses for special occasions, such as homecoming and prom, as well as outfitting the Airman’s and Army Ball.

Initially on 18th and Main in downtown Boise, Dresstraveganza is now located in the Boise Factory Outlets. With more than 1,000 dresses available, visitors also have access to style guides and personal shoppers to assist in their shopping experience.

“The intention was to have a boutique experience. Girls are often surprised, expecting this to be a dusty shop in the back of a building. We are blessed to be in the Boise Outlets thanks to their generosity.”

Dresses are provided free of charge to girls. Gowns are returned after the event to be cleaned and continued to be offered to the community.

Stamper shared, “It’s always great to see the smiles. The smiles on the faces of the girls who thought they weren’t beautiful. But the thing I think most people don’t think about is the dads. The ‘thank you’ from the dads for helping make their daughters dreams comes true.”

Dresstraveganza runs on contributions from local businesses and credit unions. They estimate that it costs $15-$20 per girl for them to be open between utilities and cleaning costs. Dress donations of all types and sizes are accepted. They clean and fix dresses they receive and anything that can’t be utilized by the shop is passed along to other charities. Other donations are accepted on site or online and are tax deductible.

Mostly open by appointment, the shop is open on Saturdays in March and April as well as a few days a week for prom season.  Additionally for the last 4 years, the Paul Mitchell School has sent teams to do complete makeovers on girls, including hair, nails, and makeup for their event.

“Everyone who works here is a volunteer so we have limits as to what we can do but it’s amazing the difference one dress can make on a person,” said Stamper.

Dresstraveganza is always looking for volunteers of all kinds. From personal shoppers to behind the scenes, there are lots of ways to get involved, both for individuals and businesses.

“We have dress drop off locations all over the valley at local businesses, but are always looking for more businesses to be drop off points, particularly in Nampa and Eagle, where we do not yet have any locations,” Stamper said.

For more information about Dresstraveganza search for them on Facebook.