No need to worry about what to wear for Casual Friday at the office anymore — Carolina Closet has got you covered.
The new organization is bringing business casual and business formal attire to the basement of Avery Residence Hall, next to Carolina Cupboard, that students can rent for free. The intent is to give students access to clothing for interviews, networking events and other socials that require business wear.
“I didn’t think it was fair for qualified candidates of whatever profession to not be able to get the job,” Chuka Akpom, founder and president, said. “It’s not about what you know but who you know, but also how you’re known.”
Carolina Closet aims to make it easier for students to access business attire and to help those at a disadvantage.
Akpom said he got the inspiration from another branch of the organization at the University of South Carolina. He also says that he received help from different groups that Carolina Closet has partnered with, such as University Career Services and the Residence Hall Association.
“Career Services has been great in getting us connected to other groups to partner with," Akpom said. "They’re actually helping us set up an open house later this semester.”
Akpom commented that on top of being accessible to all students, Carolina Closet is open-minded toward all students.
“We want anyone who comes to the closet to feel welcome and to feel like its tailored to their needs,” Akpom said. They added a section for preferred gender pronoun on the appointment form to ensure that every student, faculty and staff member feels represented when renting their items.
The team at Carolina Closet wants to highlight its accessibility and remove the stigma associated with being in need. Taylor Doggett, communications chair, said she thinks it isn’t right for a student to have to go out of his or her way to get business attire necessary to succeed in an interview.
“One of the last things you want to worry about when you’re trying to better yourself is not having those clothes,” Doggett said.
However, like the students who struggle to find business attire, Carolina Closet also faces obstacles.
“You know we have had some obstacles like finding funding, and it’s stressful being full-time students and having other obligations,” Akpom said.
Despite hardships, Akpom said his team inspires him with their dedication and willingness to help bring to life something so worthwhile for the good of the student body.
Sophomore Jaylen Evans is the group’s sustainability chair. Evans said the most important aspects of Carolina Closet are its emphasis on opportunity, equity and barrier destruction.
“It’s important to us to bridge the gap in resources that could prevent a person qualified for the job from getting it due to their lack of accessibility to resources that would benefit them,” Evans said.
The Carolina Closet team is passionate about branding and having their resources available to students so that they might have the opportunity to make their own brand as they venture into the business world.
Doggett said that they are also always looking for volunteers and those wishing to be involved with the organization.
“We really want as many different students interested to get involved,” Doggett said.
Carolina Closet expects to be in full operation by winter of 2018. They will be hosting their first clothing drive soon.
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