New pop-up shop offers free business clothing to students

University students browsed through and took home free lightly-used and new business clothing at the first ever Tiger Threads Pop-Up Shop, an event run by Career Services, on Feb. 14.

The selection included blouses, dress shirts, pants, ties, scarves, and other formal garments obtained through a partnership with the Office of Community and Regional Affairs, which provided extra clothes obtained through its clothing drive to the Pop-Up Shop.

The goal of the event was to give students access to attire for business and professional events such as interviews.

Career Services Director Evangeline Kubu said the event reflects Career Services’s mission to enable students to “design their own unique career and life vision” by creating “equitable access to opportunities.”

“One of the things we never want to stand in their way is going into their closet and not feeling that they have the right blazer, or the right or appropriate clothing for an interview, or any other opportunity to connect with an employer,” she said.

The Pop-Up Shop was one part of the three-part Tiger Threads program organized by Career Services that seeks to provide not only the appropriate clothing to students but also education about dressing for interviews. The other two parts are The Closet, which gives students the opportunity to borrow brand-new business clothes for up to three days, and the Dress for Success workshop series, which teaches students how to dress and how and where to purchase business clothing on a budget. In one of the workshops, students had a chance to go to a thrift store, where volunteers helped them pick out clothes.

“We decided to have a three-pronged approach because we felt as though a robust strategy would be the best way to service the various different needs of students,” said Russell Dinkins ’13, a diversity coordinator with Career Services who helped launch the Tiger Threads initiative.

Dinkins said he was driven to help start the Tiger Threads program due to his personal experience as a first-generation, low-income University student and his experience working with first-generation, low-income students when he worked with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

“I was Class of 2013, and I was first-generation, low-income background. So the idea of what to wear for an interview was very intimidating to me. Before I worked in this role, I used to work for ODUS, supporting first-generation, low-income students through student activities and student life side of things, and through my work there, I noticed some of the same feelings and thoughts and worries that I had which was reflected in the student body here,” said Dinkins.

Kubu said the turnout was impressive for a first-time event.

“The number of students that are here — this is our first time doing this. To see a line wrapped around the corner here tells me this is something we absolutely want to continue to invest in and expand,” Kubu said.

Several students who attended said that the event had a positive impact on them.

“I think this is marvelous, I think this is a really great thing,” said Luke Henter ’20. “I’ve been absolutely thrilled with what I’ve found so far.”

Kara Dowling ’20 said she liked the choices available.

“There’s some stuff from Banana Republic and J. Crew and stuff like that,” she said.

“Honestly, I was really worried about being seen as not [as] financially well-off as other people, but it’s a really good opportunity for us to get a chance to diversify our professional apparel, because a lot of us can’t afford it,” Andrew Goh ’19 said.

Career Services plans to survey the students who attended on Tuesday and work to improve the program accordingly for next year. Kubu said it hopes to have larger selection of clothing for next year.

Tuesday’s event was the only Pop-Up Shop for this academic year, but it is scheduled to be offered once every spring semester.

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