I met with the VP of Career Closet in San Jose, CA.
Career Closet receives donations of women's business wear and then organizes them onto racks and helps low-income women pick out clothes and dress appropriately for job interviews and professional careers. They also offer work experience training.
The area/space for the non-profit isn't the most spacious or glamorous -but that's to be expected. We were led throughout the building and each room area was explained to us.
The main room displays shoes, jewelry, slacks, blouses, and other clothes on racks. They are trying to make it look as much like a Macys as they can -including their standard for apparel.
When they receive clothes they sift through and sort the clothes that are inadequate which include:
1. Clothes that are older than 3 years
2. Clothes that have holes or missing buttons
3. Clothes that smell like cigarette smoke
4. Underwear that has stains
Basically the women in charge say: if we wouldn't wear it, it's not going in the showroom.
The clothes that don't qualify as business wear but are still wearable are then donated to another charity based in San Francisco.
The shoes and clothes that are kept are sorted by size and type. When a lower income woman comes in she is warmly welcomed and her wardrobe taste and style are discussed briefly before trying on clothes.
Career Closet also doubles as a boutique that sells both vintage and modern clothes at affordable prices. The sales of these clothes, purses, and dresses goes to paying for the rent of the building -which costs $35,000.
When asked what kind of support the non-profit was looking for we were told of several immediate concerns they face:
1. Women's suites and dress in the right sizes.
2. Jewelry, Handbags, Makeup, Perfume, Lotion
3. Volunteer dressers to help women pick out clothes
4. Volunteers to assist with practicing for job interviews
5. Volunteer teachers to help with Work Experience Program
The charities main concerns right now are also space to hold all of the clothing items and the occasional robbery that occurs because they're housed in a neighborhood that isn't as prosperous as others.
I know now where to send my clothes, shoes, and unused lotions I get that don't fit anymore. :)