Bottomless Closet Open for Business!
Deb Kruse, Coordinator of the Bottomless Closet, helps a client pick out clothing for a job interview.
The Bottomless Closet -- a new program of the Milwaukee Women's Center Division of Community Advocates -- is an appointment-only boutique offering free, work-appropriate, gently used or new clothing to women and men entering or re-entering the workforce. Clients must be referred by a local social service agency.
Individuals preparing to interview are given two complete interview outfits. Once they secure employment, they can return to receive up to five additional outfits.
"Since we began working with clients this summer, I've seen countless men and women walk out of the Bottomless Closet of Milwaukee with self-confidence and self-assurance that they did not have when they walked in," said Deb Kruse, Bottomless Closet of Milwaukee's Coordinator.
"The job market is so competitive these days that our clients need to look their best when they show up at their interview. We take great pride in matching each client to the most appropriate outfit available, and we take great pride in their success."
The Bottomless Closet of Milwaukee's stock of clothing comes from both private donations and purchases. Kruse and her staff work with clients to pick out appropriate pieces. They also strategize the most appropriate attire for each type of job -- suits for salesmen, jeans and tennis shoes for restaurants, for example -- and track which items of clothing are most popular and successful.
Undergarments and accessories such as jewelry, purses, scarves, and belts are also available for men and women.
"We make it so our clients feel like they're actually shopping. We're set up like a boutique, complete with a changing room," said Kruse. "Clients receive one-on-one services when they walk through our doors, no different than any customer in a high-end Mequon or Brookfield boutique."
The Bottomless Closet of Milwaukee also provides services such as job search assistance, resume creation or review, interviewing skills, and workplace etiquette.
"The Bottomless Closet of Milwaukee provides a unique and dignified service to low-income Milwaukeeans seeking work, and it dovetails perfectly with Community Advocates' mission to help men and women meet their basic needs," said Joe Volk, Community Advocates' CEO.
"Given the rampant joblessness we've seen the last several years and the difficulty low-income men and women have in breaking into the workforce, this program provides crucial clothing, training, and assistance in getting people back to work and out of poverty."