Reese Witherspoon Is Giving Teachers Free Draper James Dresses to Thank Them For Their Hard Work
With schools shut down all over the country, potentially through the rest of the school year, educators have been stepping up to transition their classrooms online and keep students on track through distance learning. To show appreciation for their efforts, Draper James, the fashion and lifestyle brand founded by Reese Witherspoon, is launching the "Draper James Loves Teachers" initiative.
In a post about the campaign on Instagram, the company addressed educators directly: "Dear Teachers: We want to say thank you. During quarantine, we see you working harder than ever to educate our children. To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress."
Draper James will also offer teachers 25% off online orders for Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5.
Witherspoon explained the impetus for the campaign in a press release: "These past few weeks have shown me so much about humanity. I’m an eternal optimist, so I always look for the bright side of things. And I have been so encouraged by the ways people are really showing up for each other. Particularly the teachers. During quarantine, teachers are broadcasting lessons from their own homes and figuring out new remote-learning technology and platforms on the fly, all while continuing to educate and connect with our kids. Advocating for the children of the world is no easy task, so I wanted to show teachers a little extra love right now."
As this crisis has served to emphasize just how much teachers enrich children's lives, this campaign couldn't be more timely—or applause-worthy.
To apply for a free dress, teachers should complete this form before this Sunday, April 5th, 11:59 PM ET. (Offer valid while supplies last.) On Tuesday, April 7, eligible teachers will receive an email from Draper James with details to receive their dress.
UPDATE 4/16: Draper James has faced criticism in recent days after it was revealed that the five-year-old company with fewer than 30 employees had only 250 dresses, in six different styles, to give away. Following the announcement of the initiative, the application form crashed. With almost a million applications—seven times the total number of dresses the company sold in 2019—Draper James was overwhelmed.
Marissa Cooley, the senior vice president for brand marketing and creative at Draper James, told The New York Times. "We felt like we moved too quickly and didn’t anticipate the volume of the response. We were really overwhelmed. It was way more volume than the company had ever seen. We expected the single-digit thousands."
The company responded by stating the initiative was a raffle, not a mass giveaway and offered most applicants a 20-30% off discount code. The company later sent a letter to its applicants, stating that it was making an unspecified donation to a charity that supplies teachers with school necessities to send to their remote-learning students, as well as "actively working on expanding our offerings, both internally and with outside retail partners who were also inspired by your stories and want to join in honoring your community, and we ask for your patience while we organize this effort."