Florida State University College of Communication & Information alumna Danielle Skeen is a busy advertising professional, who uses her free time to run The Star Boutique, Inc., a charity-driven, pop-up shop that provides clothing, shoes, accessories, makeovers and workshops in self-esteem to underprivileged, teen girls who are affected by homelessness in New York City.
Skeen graduated from Florida State in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies, where she capped off her education with internships at MTV Networks and Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, which are based in New York City.
Following graduation, Skeen returned to the Big Apple to become Director of Volunteers at NY Youth at Risk, Inc., for two-and-a-half years.
While she changed her career path in 2012 to join Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal & Partners (kbs+) as an account executive, the experience working with underprivileged youth made a marked impact on Skeen.
“Growing up I was blessed and I never experienced any of the situations that these girls have had,” Skeen said. “I developed a soft spot towards them when I began working at the non-profit.”
Skeen, who handles national advertising campaigns for BMW at kbs+, started The Star Boutique as what was supposed to be a one-time occurrence. She wanted to donate clothes to teenage girls in need, but in a fun and enriching way. Eighteen months later, the charity continues to grow.
“We’re providing a direct need because they need clothes, but we’re promoting it in a way that is enticing to them because every teenage girl likes to shop.”
Before the physical makeover begins, however, participants go through a workshop with a life coach about the importance of confidence and self-esteem.
“At the end of the day, we could dress you in a ball gown and you can leave with best makeup and hair, but if you don’t feel good on the inside it really defeats the purpose everything we’re doing,” Skeen said. “We stress the importance of loving yourself regardless of the situation you are in.”
With her background in advertising and media, and experience as a radio show host, Skeen uses her promotion skills to get the word out about collection dates for donations to The Star Boutique.
“Things that I thought of as just homework are actually things I’m implanting and using in my everyday life,” Skeen said. “I think it is really cool to be putting my degree to use in all aspects of my life.”
Skeen also volunteers to mentor recent CCI graduates through PEEPS – the Young Alumni Partnerships in Educational Engagement, Philanthropy & Social Media. The program’s goals are to create informal networking opportunities for young alumni, mentoring opportunities, guidance for new graduates relocating into regions like New York City and Atlanta, inspirational stories of FSU alumni and guest speaking opportunities.
“Any time I have an opportunity to help anyone out in any way, I’m game,” Skeen said. “I feel like anyone who has been lucky enough to be in certain situations, the least you can do is help others on the way up.”