PORTSMOUTH – For Lisa James, it’s not all about the clothes.

While her nonprofit closet is definitely burgeoning with them, it’s more about the confidence radiating from a woman’s face when she tries on a gently-worn leather jacket, blazer, or dress.

That burst of confidence certainly doesn’t solve all of the problems that women in recovery face, but it helps. It’s a positive emotion that could lift a vulnerable woman up and propel her forward.

James, a Dover resident, operates “The Rack” out of New Frontiers Church on Gosling Road. It’s a free clothing boutique for women in recovery and transitional situations, entirely supported by community donations. 

Her slogan is “revive, reclaim, reimagine.”

James found herself inspired to do more following mentorship work through her church with women living in group homes. She’d also had a personal encounter with addiction five years ago, when a friend died of a heroin overdose. James had just seen her the day before, she said. 

Lisa James found herself inspired to do more following mentorship work through her church with women living in group homes.

James had a mentee who was living at Lydia’s House of Hope in Somersworth, a 12-month transitional housing program for homeless women and children. In this case, she had recently lost custody of her children while in the grip of addiction. 

“They were always so grateful and so thankful,” James said. “I thought they deserved more. I just have so much love and respect for them. They’re so brave.”