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Impeccable Impressions for Interviews: A Free Professional Clothing Shop

April Marvin, Staff Writer

Racks and tables of donated clothing to set UM-Dearborn students up for success in their interviews and careers. Photo//April Marvin

The Association of Nontraditional Students (ANTS) hosted their first ever free career-wear pop-up shop for students called “Impeccable Impressions for Interviews” on Thursday.

Students were welcomed to Kochoff A/B in the Renick University Center with a shopping bag to browse over 15 racks of professional attire donated by campus members, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.

Additionally, ANTS had over 10 tables of makeup, jewelry, accessories, shoes, purses, ties, scarves, belts, and much more for students to build a professional outfit to prepare them for interviews and work in their future fields.

Accessories, jewelry, shoes and many other items were available for students to take. Photo//April Marvin

ANTS Secretary, Jessica Calderon, said it was all about supporting the diverse and wonderful students on campus. “For me, the best reward is hearing the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as students walk out of the fitting rooms excited to share their finds!”

ANTS provided four private fitting rooms, complete with mirrors and even a photo backdrop surrounded by motivational quotes to snap a picture in your outfit.

Calderon pitched the idea about a free clothing shop to her fellow ANTS E-Board months ago and has since been collecting donations from all over the surrounding areas.

“We have been overwhelmed with the support from campus and how everyone really showed up for us with quality donations,” said Calderon.

Beyond that, community members from Wayne, Oakland, and Livingston County donated professional clothing and accessories. ANTS members were busy collecting carloads of donations over the past couple months.

ANTS Treasurer, Tamir Bell, brought several items like ties, cufflinks, and dress shoes from his friends, family, and church members. “Everyone is just so glad to be able to help our students in the community,” said Bell. “Seeing this event come to life is great.”

ANTS members and volunteers excited to help students dress for success. Photo//Penny Kane

“Our goal is to uplift students in ANTS, and I am brought to tears with all of the great interactions we have had at our event and in providing not just clothing for fellow students, but confidence,” remarked Calderon.

Students browse the accessory tables. Photo//April Marvin

The room was busy from its start at 12 p.m. to well-after its end at 6 p.m., as students showed up to fill bags with the remaining clothing. ANTS allowed students to pick one full outfit with accessories and then opened up the pop-up at 4 p.m. to allow students to come back and take as much as they needed.

“We want to make sure everyone gets a chance to get a complete outfit,” said President Penny Kane. “Then anyone and everyone can come back and fill up a bag with the remaining items.”

In collaboration with the student pantry, ANTS plans to donate the remainder or include the rest of the clothes in future career-wear shops.

Student Angelique Braswell was one of the first into the event. She heard about the pop-up shop through the SOAR program and was excited to check it out. As a caregiver to her grandmother and with two children of her own, Braswell says she does not always get time to prioritize herself.

“My grandmother was actually the one who encouraged me to come today. She told me to take care of myself and get a great outfit for my future career.” Braswell’s grandmother suffers from vascular dementia, and she notes how there are days where she cannot even feed herself and Braswell steps in to help. “When she told me to partake in this event, I knew I had to,” said Braswell.

Braswell mentioned how she plans to do an internship over the summer and that this opportunity was helpful in preparing her for that. She ended up with a stunning dress and blazer and came back later to pick up more items.

“I feel like knowing there are events on campus like this help us see that the possibilities are endless for us all,” Braswell continued. “No matter what you are facing, know that it’s important to just keep going – the sky is the limit!”

Student Angelique Braswell poses outside of the fitting rooms. Photo//April Marvin

Several faculty members stopped by the event, from Dean Amy Finley to SOAR Program Director and Assistant Ellen Judge-Gonzalez and Becky Richardson, and the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff, Keisha Blevins.

Blevins donated clothing for the event and was excited to see everyone so happy. She even witnessed a student trying on one of the items she donated when she was at the event. “It’s great to see the students smiling,” said Blevins. “And knowing the clothing you’re providing is quality and professional is also amazing.”

Student Tyler Griswold stopped in because he was working at the CAPS mental wellness table, and his friends mentioned the event. “I hope I can find a good suit,” said Griswold. He went on to mention how events like this are nice for students who don’t have the opportunity to go shopping or cannot afford professional clothing.

Student Tyler Griswold browses the racks in search of a suit. Photo//April Marvin

As students tried on piles of clothing in the fitting rooms, sophomore Joshua Shelley emerged in a peach two-piece suit to view in the full-length mirrors. “First of all, thank you to whoever donated this incredible suit,” remarked Shelley.

Student Joshua Shelley posing in a fan-favorite peach suit. Photo//April Marvin

Members of ANTS were on stand-by to help mix and match items to build the perfect outfit, but Shelley, a film student and professional actor, drew a crowd in the peach suit. “I just want to tell you all how much I appreciated and enjoyed this event. It was a confidence boost for me with everyone around me complimenting me and helping,” said Shelley.

Shelley continued, “This was really a safe space that made me feel celebrated and comfortable.” Shelley tried on multiple items and remarked how fun it all was.

Anika Chowdhury was one of those students proudly posing in front of the sparkly blue backdrop. “I really hope this event happens every year!” Chowdhury found the event on VictorsLink and mentioned how great the collection and variety of clothing was. Although she had to leave for an exam, a few minutes later Chowdhury was still browsing the racks and accessories.

Student Anika Chowdhury dressed for success in a new blazer. Photo//April Marvin

“I wish I could come back and shop here all the time,” said student Jesse Jarvis. “I got a Burberry suit. Never in my life did I think I would have something Burberry!” Jarvis said he was happy he came to the event more for just the suit, but also the support and encouragement he received during his time there. “Thank you so much for this!”

ANTS plans to host this free career attire pop-up shop annually after the success and feedback on Thursday.

“At the core of it, it’s about helping our fellow students, supporting each other, and making people feel good,” said Calderon. “Knowing we could create a safe space for students to feel good is how I measure the success!”

To learn more about ANTS click here.

Check out their Instagram and Facebook for events and updates.

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