Finding a fit for a job interview can be a struggle, especially for college students. Transportation falls through, the cost of professional clothing is too high or nothing that satisfies students’ needs is available.
In an effort to reduce the barriers students’ face in obtaining professional clothing, while preventing waste in the process, UB Sustainability created Hired in February. Hired, an on-campus boutique, provides gently-used professional attire and unopened beauty and hygiene products to UB students at no cost, giving students a leg up in the professional world without bearing a financial burden.
Hired also provides “a safe place” for transgender and non-binary students who are looking for clothing that suits their gender identity, Erin Moscati, the sustainability education manager for UB Sustainability, said. This lowers barriers to genderqueer students who might face judgment or a lack of inclusivity.
Students can make appointments online, then pick out what they want from the boutique, located in the Sustainability office at 101 Statler Commissary. UB Sustainability solicited donations from community members, faculty, staff, alumni and local organizations to stock their racks. Matthew Taboni, a student assistant in UB Sustainability and JD/MBA student, states in the past year, “we have had 1000s, maybe even upwards, of items donated, I don’t have an exact, we have given out 602 articles of clothing through pop-ups and one-on-one appointments at the boutique.”
The program offers students a wide variety of professional apparel options, including blazers, dress pants, dresses, dress shirts, dress shoes, ties, watches, laptop bags, unused dress socks, new stockings and more.
“I think that for a long time it was on the students to figure out how they’re going to get transportation to go to a store and how they’re going to get money to get an outfit,” Erin Moscati said. “Now there is a place to fulfill that need.”
UB Sustainability were “really inspired” by a similar program at Rochester Institute of Technology, Bern’s Closet, following an informational exchange at RIT, according to Derek Nichols, associate director for UB Sustainability. Bern’s Closet provides RIT students with donated professional clothing at no cost year-round.
UB Sustainability planned to start the program during the 2019-20 academic year, COVID-19-induced delays gave UB Sustainability more time to prepare for its launch, Nichols said.
Hired held its first popup event in collaboration with Campus Living called “Wilkenson’s Hired thrift pop-up” on April 8 at the Wilkeson Quadrangle. Students had the ability to come in and sign out up to five pieces of clothing they wanted, for free.
Skylar Lampel, a sophomore computer science major, attended the Wilkenson pop-up and said it was “the most well attended [UB] event I’ve gone to.” Lampel is glad that students have this resource, even though he doesn’t know if he would use Hired personally. One of his friends got a “beige-pink blazer” that he needed at the event; Lampel’s friend had previously had a hard time finding affordable professional clothing.
Over 100 students have made appointments since the program started in February, according to Moscati. But she says the program’s biggest setback is students’ no-showing appointments, which can be especially problematic because the program only has two appointment spots a day and only runs on weekdays.
“It’s disappointing when there is a no-show because that prevents other students from being able to come in and utilize the space,” Moscati said. “It puts a backlog in our ability to schedule appointments.”
Hired is an addition to the UB Sustainability program UB ReUSE — a program where students can donate reusable items they are not going to take home with them at the end of the spring semester.
UB Sustainability is looking for student volunteers who have retail or fashion experience, according to Moscati. To donate to UB Sustainability, individuals can call 716-829-5743 to arrange a drop-off time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.
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