CLEMSON – Katelyn Sutherland, of Waxhaw, helped Clemson University students have access to a professional wardrobe for job interviews or networking by launching the school’s first “Clothes Closet.”
The initiative dates to spring 2017, when student senator Leland Dunwoodie attended a career fair and began researching options for students who didn’t have access to suitable interview attire.
Dunwoodie presented the initiative to fellow senators in fall 2017 and asked for someone to come forward and pursue the idea further.
Sutherland and Morgan Weaver became the lead senators spearheading the project. Sutherland and Weaver applied for capital improvement funding and received $10,000. The funds allowed student government and the career center to decorate the closet and buy starter clothing.
“Students can come in, take the clothes home and we will not ask for anything back,” said Caren Kelley-Hall, associate director of Clemson’s University Professional Internship and Co-Op program. “If a student has an upcoming interview or networking event or company function, they’ll have access to an array of clothes and professional wardrobe.”
Kelley-Hall and the career center held a “JCPenney Suit-Up Event” on Aug. 26, offering students a 40 percent discount on apparel and shoes, in addition to a free mini-makeover and samples courtesy of Sephora.
“That helped us recognize there was a strong need,” she said, noting more than 500 students attended the event.
Weaver said at least 20 students have taken advantage of the closet.
“The fact we can create confidence in students is big,” she said. “We don’t want any student feeling they can’t go for a career or position because they don’t have the right clothing.”