All Columns in Alphabetical Order

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bottomless Closet: the Inside Story

Six civic-minded women founded Bottomless Closet in response to new rules requiring women on public assistance to obtain jobs, many of whom were ill prepared for the workforce. The nonprofit opened its doors in January 1999 to help aspiring women ace interviews, land jobs and succeed in the world of work. Some 70 New York City job-training agencies referred clients to Bottomless Closet after they gained job interviews. Whom You Know thinks they are doing great work!

Although a strong focus was on outfitting those job seekers with donated work-appropriate attire, Bottomless Closet had a larger mission from the outset. It also provided clients with individual coaching on resumes, interview skills and the intangibles that ensure success in the workplace. Bottomless Closet’s mission evolved to assist even more disadvantaged New York City women—not only those exiting welfare—in achieving self-esteem, self-confidence and self-sufficiency. In its first decade the nonprofit served more than 10,000 women.

Bottomless Closet’s comprehensive program offers a multitude of resources:

* Interview-appropriate clothing from its extensive boutique, and more outfits after the client lands a job
* One-on-one coaching in resume preparation, interview techniques and presentation skills
* An educational curriculum emphasizing professional development, personal enrichment and financial management.

Bottomless Closet’s curriculum offers a rich mix of coaching, mentoring and workshops on job-related skills, from computer training to business etiquette, led by experts in their respective fields. A yearlong financial management series helps women manage their incomes through budgeting, setting goals, saving and investing and planning for future needs such as education, home ownership and retirement. Other offerings, such as book and theater clubs, encourage personal enrichment.

With a small, dedicated staff and a strong network of talented volunteers, Bottomless Closet is a model of women helping women. Many of its volunteers bring professional experience in human resources, making them uniquely suited to impart critical knowledge to others who can greatly benefit from their insights. For further information, visit

MISSION: Bottomless Closet helps disadvantaged New York City women become self-sufficient through a comprehensive program that begins with professional attire and interview preparation and continues with professional development, financial management and personal enrichment. Using the model of women helping women and our network of dedicated volunteers, Bottomless Closet enhances our clients’ self-esteem and self-confidence in order for them to enter and succeed in the workforce and improve the quality of their lives.

Bottomless Closet’s Volunteer Opportunities

There are many ways you can get involved and help reach the mission to connect women to work by promoting economic self-sufficiency. Training is provided where appropriate.

Clothes Consultation and Coaching: Volunteers work one-on-one with clients, assisting with the selection of interview clothing, reviewing resumes and helping women prepare for interviews. Opportunities are available Monday through Thursday 12 to 5pm, as well as the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from 6 to 8pm.

Workshops and Programming: Volunteers who are experts in their professional field provide education by developing the curriculum for, and facilitating workshops on topics including Professional Development, Financial Management and Personal Enrichment. Workshops are held in the evenings from 6 to8 pm.

Fundraising Activities: Volunteers organize fundraising activities, both personal and corporate sponsored, to support the programs of Bottomless Closet. Volunteers use events such as books clubs or business association meetings as opportunities to raise funds. Volunteers invite friends and colleagues to events including purchasing tickets or tables for our annual luncheon and Young Leadership events.

Mentoring: Volunteers meet one-on one with clients to provide additional support. Mentors are needed to provide guidance to women who are working to become debt free or who have been unable to secure employment. While the scheduling for this unique volunteer opportunity is flexible, we request that the mentoring relationship be in place for at minimum one year.

Career Days: Volunteers host Bottomless Closet clients at their corporations in an effort to introduce women to a variety of corporate employment opportunities. Visits might include Q&A sessions, job shadowing and personal testimonies.

Inventory Management: Volunteers assist with clothing inventory by sorting through clothing donations, selecting desirable professional attire, organizing the clothing displays in the boutique and managing and arranging the storage space. Opportunities are available for both individuals and corporate groups Monday to Thursday during business hours as well as select evenings.

Clothing and Accessories Drives: Bottomless Closet accepts women’s new or gently worn business appropriate attire including: suits, separates, coats, shoes, handbags, scarves and jewelry. Volunteers are needed to organize personal or corporate sponsored clothing and accessories drives. Please contact them to schedule a drive at your office, club or home. Tax write offs are provided for all donations.

Professional Expertise & Administrative Support: Volunteers help out with mailings and other administrative tasks. Volunteers also provide professional consultation in the area of one’s expertise e.g. website design and maintenance, graphic design, writing/editing articles for quarterly newsletters.

Bottomless Closet * Hotel Pennsylvania/15 Penn Plaza * B Level, Suite 40

NYC 10001 * T 212 563 2499

Back to TOP