Dressing for success can come with a hefty price tag, but Jada Turner is spearheading an effort to lighten the load for her fellow students.
The College of Business junior recalled how as a freshman she was startled by the cost of assembling a professional wardrobe.
“This is adding up,” she quickly realized.
Having business attire, however, was a necessity. Describing how proper clothing can be a class requirement and helps to make a good impression during an interview, Turner said of her peers, “Whether they are dressed professionally or not might make or break them getting a job.”
To help lessen the burden this expense poses for many people, Turner is launching a professional clothes closet for Illinois State University students. She is currently collecting donations of gently used professional clothing, which will be made available to students free of charge at what she described as a “pop-up shop” event that will be on campus early on in the spring semester.
Turner, who is student body vice president and is majoring in both marketing and fashion design, said, “I’ve been seeing that as a need all over, not just in the College of Business. I feel like a lot of times students don’t know where to go or don’t have the money (to buy business attire). It’s hard being a college student. I’m just really passionate because I really want to help students, and I really want this to be an event where students will utilize it and it will make a firsthand impact.”
To help make the project a success, Turner is asking students, local alumni, faculty, and staff to take a look at their own closets and see if they have professional attire—dress shirts, slacks, blazers, ties, and skirts—to donate. She also encourages students to speak with their family members over Thanksgiving break to see if they have items they can give as well.
Clothing donations can be dropped off in the College of Business, the Office of Sustainability, the Alumni Center, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, and the Financial Aid Office in Hovey Hall. The clothing collection will continue for the remainder of the fall semester, as well as the first week of the spring semester.
Turner began planning for this project in September and visited two other postsecondary schools to see how clothes closets are organized on other campuses. Inspired by what she saw, she developed the idea for the pop-up shop format. She plans to host the event on Monday, February 3, which is the day prior to the spring internship fair so students can put the clothes they receive to use immediately.
“This is when students will need it the most. That’s when it would be the most beneficial to have it. I want to target students when they’re going to interviews or really trying to get a job,” she said.
The student went on to describe how she wants the event to provide attendees with more than just clothing.
“I’m going to partner with the Career Center to have people there looking at resumes and giving career advice and different tips,” she said.
She also plans to have a representative from the Office of Sustainability on-site to give out information about the positive environmental benefits of recycling clothing.
“Don’t think of it as just something where I’m just coming to get clothing because I don’t have enough money or I don’t know what to wear. Think of it as a free clothing boutique that offers different services,” Turner said.
Next year, she hopes to host a pop-up shop event before both the fall and spring internship fairs.
“This is just the beginning,” Turner said, adding she hopes to see the clothes closet grow to the point that it can have a permanent location on campus. “Right now I’m doing a small thing to work up to that bigger scale idea. I really want it to succeed and for students to utilize it and have this tool for the future.”