November 26, 2015 • #GirlBoss, GOOD WORKS

Good Works: DJ Loves Girls Inc.

The opening of our flagship boutique wasn’t the only venture Reese kicked off in Nashville last week; she also celebrated the launch of Draper James’ partnership with Girls Inc. at the YWCA by hosting a lively and educational conference focused on financial literacy for young women.

Held at the Nashville City Music Center and sponsored by First Tennessee Bank, The First Annual “Girls Just Wanna Have Funds” conference was an empowering event attended by 500 local girls and their mothers with Reese as the featured speaker.

Reese has dedicated her voice, time, and resources to girls’ and women’s issues for decades. When she mapped out her vision for Draper James, it was paramount to her that the brand not only represent the Southern lifestyle she’s so attached to, but that it also support young women in their paths to becoming future leaders, entrepreneurs, and agents of social change.

Girls Inc. was the perfect partner.

Girls Inc. at the YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee is the local affiliate of the national nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering girls to succeed. In support of the organization’s focus on the area of money management, Draper James is serving as the Title Sponsor of the Girls Inc. Economic Literacy Program for middle and high school girls in Nashville. The program’s innovative curriculum will be provided via in-school and after school classes, along with a spring break camp. A few participants will even have the opportunity to intern at our Nashville store.

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From left to right: Executive Vice President of First Tennessee Bank Rita P. Mitchell, Draper James CEO Andrea Hyde, YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee CEO Patricia Glaser Shea, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Reese Witherspoon, Middle Tennessee President of First Tennessee Bank Carol Yochem, Nashville singer/songwriter Ruby Amanfu, and multi-Grammy-winning recording artist CeCe Winans (Photo by Faith-Ann Young)

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Girls Inc. on a program that educates women about finances,” says Reese. “Whether you’re learning what a mortgage is or keeping a good credit score, financial education is key to success in life and I’m so excited to provide that foundation for young women.”

Reese’s enthusiasm and pride in this exciting partnership was evident at the conference, where Draper James CEO Andrea Hyde interviewed her about her own experiences learning about personal finance. They covered subjects including Reese’s first dream job (the first female President of the United States or Dolly Parton!), her first real job (as an 11-year-old model for a local Nashville retailer), the first thing she saved up to buy on her own (a pair of black jeans from GAP Kids), and the advice she’d give to her younger self (don’t be so hard on yourself). Reese was adamant about the importance of learning to save and invest, of taking risks, and of giving back.

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Reese talks saving, investing, taking risks, and giving back with several girls from Girls Inc. (Photos by Leslee Mitchell)

Reese recalled receiving her very first paycheck ($50 for that modeling shoot) and going with her mother to the local bank to open a checking account to deposit it into. “So you learned to save, right from the very beginning?” Andrea wondered.

“I didn’t save any of it,” Reese laughed. “I immediately went to the toy store and candy store and spent all of it.” (It took until her second modeling gig for her to wise up.)

Yet, despite Reese’s initial mishap, she did come to believe that having a checking account throughout high school was her best education in personal finance as a young woman. That’s why it was so exciting to her—and to everyone in the room—when First Tennessee Bank (the largest bank headquartered in the state) gave each high school girl in the audience a $2 bill with instructions for opening her first checking account, where a balance of $48 would be awaiting her.

Girls Inc students showing off their new $2 bills

Girls Inc. students excited about their first checking accounts thanks to First Tennessee Bank. (Photo by Faith-Ann Young)

And there was more.

Other highlights from the evening included: interactive sessions designed to challenge the girls to consider their assumptions about money (no fairy godmothers here!) and introduce them to key concepts about personal finance; an appearance by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who spoke about how she manages the state’s $2 billion budget; and a performance by Nashville-bred singer and songwriter Ruby Amanfu, whose soulful performance was the perfect grand finale to a moving and informative evening.