Hannah Ahluwalia, along with the Women in Business Students’ Association, Lear Corporation Career Services Center and Eli Broad College of Business, have come up with an idea to help fellow Michigan State students easily acquire professional attire.

Ahluwalia, who is a senior accounting major, has decided to call her idea the Empowerment Closet where all MSU students, regardless of major, can come in and borrow professional clothes for events such as interviews, networking events and more.

Hannah Ahluwalia

Hannah Ahluwalia

“We’re going to have clothes come in and there’s not charge for students, so they won’t have to pay anything, but they can borrow for 48 hours,” said Ahluwalia. “They will sign and come in then just be able to browse the closet, look at the clothing we have, make a list of what the need and if they see something they need they can take it for 48 hours before returning it for us to clean and put back out on the closet.”

“It doesn’t exist at Broad yet so me within Women in Business (for which she serves as president) and my advisor in partnership, Anne Crain, with the Lear Center are starting it up,” Ahluwalia said. “We have reached out to companies so far to collect monetary donations, so we can go out and do all the shopping and then organizing and putting together the closet. I’m just kind of oversee all of that.”

The need is there, said Marla McGraw, the director of career services at the Broad College.

“I think the Empowerment Closet is important because students should feel confident when meeting with employers for events or interviews. The right attire helps build confidence,” said McGraw. “When a student is confident, they perform better in interviews and are more comfortable when networking. They have the opportunity to prepare for their corporate interactions, rather than worry about what to wear; thus giving them a chance to present their best self to employers and alumni.”

“There may be students who do not attend a company function or apply for interviews because they don’t feel that they have the appropriate clothing for the event,” said McGraw. “The EC will be a resource for students who can borrow the clothing free of charge and then feel comfortable attending events/interviews.”

With plans still in motion, Ahluwalia explains when she hopes to have the closet up and running as the spring semester unfolds, and as she continues searching for a permanent location to base her operation.

“Hopefully … before the career fairs start we can start the closet for students,” said Ahluwalia. “We’re still finding a final location. [For the spring] semester it’s going to be more of a temporary location in the Lear Center (in Owen Hall, Room W114) and it will be put in the (Edward J. Minskoff) Pavilion (set to open in Fall 2019) after that.”

After much work put into the concept and organization of the Empowerment Closet, the next thing on the list is collecting the clothes for students to use. Ahluwalia and her partners have thought and reached out to many potential sources.

“We reached out to alumni from MSU, from Women in Business, Lear Center and we also reached out to companies if they wanted to donate money contributions. With any money contributions we get, we’re going to go out to the stores ourselves and buy the clothing,” said Ahluwalia. “We will also collect any recently new clothes they would like to donate, dry clean them, and then hopefully put those out.”