Boutique at this college to offer affordable clothing at $5 fill-a-bag event.
By V.G. Garlisi
The Magic Closet Boutique, which helps female students, staff and faculty at this college prepare for job interviews, is hosting a “$5 fill a bag” event for the second time this month. The event is 10 a.m.–3 p.m. tomorrow at the Magic Closet Boutique in Portable 301 on Main Avenue across the street from L & M Bookstore.
“With our non-business pieces, we offer them to the students and faculty,” said Mami Benitez Campbell, founder of the boutique. “You can grab a bag and fill it up for only $5.”
Typical clothing for the event includes winter wear such as sweaters, boots, tennis shoes, jeans and socks that have been donated to the Magic Closet. Campbell said there are name-brand clothes to choose from such as Polo and Tommy Hilfiger.
“We never reject any donation, but we are very carful about how we build the inventory to be professional,” Campbell said. “This is a chance for us to liquidate some of our inventory.”
The proceeds of the event will go toward the Network Power/Texas Scholarship Fund giving one woman from each Alamo College money toward their education. The scholarship is awarded in January, so throughout the year Campbell and the Magic Closet are busy raising money for the cause.
More information about the scholarship can be found in the financial aid office as well as the Network/Power Texas website, www.networkpowertexas.com.
The Magic Closet started 18 years ago as the brainchild of Campbell when she would see the expensive suits her customers would discard. Having a background in retail, Campbell said she always knew she could get more use out of the suit.
So she went to Network/Power and proposed the idea of a boutique that would offer students donated clothes at no cost to them.
“We didn’t have a place,” Campbell said. “We literally kept the items in our closets or in the trunks of our cars waiting to use them.”
This college granted the Magic Closet Boutique its first space on Ashby Avenue to distribute clothes to students.
Since then, the Magic Closet has moved to St. Philip’s College and back to this campus for its final home.
“St. Philip’s was good to us, but the campus grew and needed the space,” Campbell said. “Now that we are at SAC, we are much closer to the students who need our assistance.”
“We are on campus to serve the students,” Campbell said. “We pride ourselves that we have been easily accessible to the students.”
Campbell and Rebecca Boles, co-founder of the Magic Closet, do not just offer students clothes, they give them an opportunity to excel at their interview and win the position.
Boles offers fashion consultations as well as make-up tips to go with their outfits. Campbell said they both offer business etiquette tips so students can get the job with confidence.
“It’s not just about handing them a suit and saying, ‘Here, get the job, good luck,’” Campbell said. “It’s about filling a role, and offering them our experiences and services to aid them with their success.”
Most of the students who flock to the Magic Closet hail from the empowerment center’s GED program for women who are transitioning into college. Program Coordinator Debbie Middleton uses the Magic Closet for her female students who are hungry for their next step in life.
“I think it’s a great benefit,” Middleton said. “The ladies take the time to make sure students are dressed appropriately, and really care about their well-being.”
However, students are not the exception for the Magic Closet; its services also extend to faculty as well. The closet will host a $10 event in December for faculty members who need winter wear and suits.
“Sometimes faculty doesn’t have the time to shop for nice winter items,” Campbell said. “Nice holiday suit sets for only $10.”
“It will continue to be a service that will always be needed,” Campbell said. “I see it as an ongoing, growing project for our students moving into the workplace.”