What We Do

Impact

Bottomless Closet works every day to make sure women in need have access to valuable tools and resources to enter the workforce and succeed.

In 2018 alone, Bottomless Closet had:

  • More than 4,200 client interactions
  • More than 2,700 unique clients served
  • 78 attendees at our Career Days
  • More than 1,000 attendees at our in-house workshops


Additional examples of our impact on the women we serve:

  • 98% of clients surveyed cited Bottomless Closet as a key factor in their success.
  • 59% of respondents indicated, immediately following their Bottomless Closet appointment, they were hired for the job for which they interviewed
  • Of the 41% who did not get that job, 50% got another job.
  • At the time of the survey, 56% of respondents were working
    —55% had been working for three months or less, 40% had been
    working between three months and one year, and 5% had been
    working for longer than one year.

old and young women talking

WE TURN APPLICANTS INTO CANDIDATES

 

Success Stories

 

Rose

“If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it’s to keep going,” says Rose.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and having a bilateral hip replacement in 2012 that left her permanently disabled, Rose became homeless in 2014 and ended up living in a shelter.

“When I got to the shelter, I knew I didn’t just want to sit around and do nothing with my life, in spite of my disability. So I kept going.”

Rose always wanted to learn how to use the computer, so she started researching computer classes she could take. She found one, began learning the computer, and later graduated from advanced computer classes. Soon after, Rose was scheduled for a job interview and was sent to Bottomless Closet to help her prepare.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I got to Bottomless Closet, but everyone was so kind and pleasant,” remembers Rose. “I was overwhelmed with best service ever. They made sure I was satisfied with my entire outfit. They helped make me feel confident and prepared for my job interview. I didn’t get a job right away, but I kept going.”

Even though she didn’t get a job right away, Rose says Bottomless Closet changed everything. “When I first came to Bottomless Closet in 2014, I was in a deep, dark pit,” recalls Rose. “Life didn’t turn out how I planned it. I got sick, went broke, and had nowhere to live…and then Bottomless Closet came out of nowhere and saved me.”

While she was still looking for work, Rose started attending Bottomless Closet’s workshops so she could keep on learning. In fact, Rose attended every single workshop Bottomless Closet had to offer, and graduated from both the Financial Management and Professional Development workshop series in 2016. Meanwhile, Rose was still looking for a job and a place to live, but she kept going.

There is a bell located at the front desk at Bottomless Closet. Women are welcome to ring the bell when they come in for their post-hire appointment, proudly signaling to the entire office and anyone in the boutique that they have just gotten a job. Finally, in 2018, it was Rose’s turn. “I was finally able to come back and ring that bell after four long years.”

Rose just celebrated her one-year anniversary working as a part-time switchboard operator at the Veterans Hospital in Manhattan, and is currently talking with her supervisor about transitioning to full-time employment. She is in her own apartment in the Bronx, and is planning a vacation for early next year to go visit family in Jamaica. She would also love to go back to school and get a college education.

The one downside of working so much, says Rose, is that she has not been able to come to as many workshops as she would like. “Everything I’ve experienced through Bottomless Closet keeps me going and strengthens me. When I come to the workshops, I forget about everything else that’s going on with me,” says Rose.

“The women I’ve met at Bottomless Closet encouraged me to be confident in myself and keep going until I got a job,” says Rose. “They taught me, ‘stay focused and it will happen.’ I went on a lot of interviews and it took me a long time, but I’m here. Bottomless Closet brought me from darkness to light.”

Jazmith

Health issues took quite a toll on Bottomless Closet client Jazmith in 2013, keeping her out of work for almost four years. Unfortunately, being unemployed also took a serious toll on her finances. “After using up all of my savings and retirement funds, I started using credit cards to cover my family’s expenses,” she recalls. With a son in college, she had no choice but to pay for many of his educational expenses with credit cards as well. “I was charging everything, and then I was using one credit card to pay off another credit card,” Jazmith admits.

After coming to Bottomless Closet for the first time, she learned about the free workshops available to clients, and decided to check out some of the Financial Management programming. “I started small, with one workshop at the time,” remembers Jazmith. “But I kept going, because I love learning new things, and I felt so comfortable in that environment. There was no judgment.”

In December 2018, Jazmith graduated from both workshop series, earning certificates in Financial Management and Professional Development. However, the certificates weren’t the only things she gained from the workshops.

“I began paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first, and taking advantage of 0% interest offers to eliminate my debt,” says Jazmith. “I cancelled all of the unnecessary memberships I once had. I now track all my spending and stick to my budget. I am more mindful when it comes to money and how I spend it. I’ve even begun saving and investing.”

Jazmith even got a job as a Budget Analyst for a New York City nonprofit, where she’s been working for more than two years. She’s also been able to utilize some of the things she’s learned in the workshops at her job. “Not only was I able to obtain practical knowledge that has helped me improve personally but also professionally. It has been very rewarding.”

Beyond helping her improve her finances, Jazmith has gained many other new skills that she can apply in her daily life.

“I continue to attend career days and make regular updates to my resume and practice mock interviews, because I would love to find additional work. I am also in the process of creating a LinkedIn profile,” she adds.

She’s made some valuable connections, too. “I’ve met many ladies from different backgrounds and have become friends with them,” says Jazmith.

“I have found a community that motivates me to keep learning and growing.”

Lucy

Lucy was recently nearing the end of a career day at Macy’s, when she says fate stepped in.

“A woman from Macy’s named Brenda joined the career day a little late, toward the end, and I was paired up with her at the last minute to do a mock interview,” recalls Lucy. “We started talking, and she said, ‘Maybe I can find something for you, because you have great customer service skills.’ I know I was meant to meet her right at that moment.”

Brenda asked for Lucy’s resume, and then reached out to her the following week and asked her to apply online right away for a sales position with Macy’s. Within 72 hours, Lucy had the job.

“I immediately started training at one of the Clinique counters. I’ve learned so much about the products, and how to help people,” says Lucy. She has even been able to serve as translator for Spanish-speaking customers who come in with questions or need help choosing the best products.

Lucy first came to the United States from Ecuador at the age of 21, with no family she was close to and no friends to help her navigate a new country. Her first job was in a factory, where she worked for eight years before transitioning into the health field, working as a home health aide before getting a certificate to be a medical assistant.

Her new position at Macy’s is a welcome fresh start for Lucy, who had been out of work for nearly two years after injuring her wrist in 2017 helping a patient, while working the overnight shift at an local hospital. “The overnight shift was very difficult for me – and since I am still receiving treatment for my wrist, it made doing that work very challenging.”

Lucy’s hand injury was not the first time she was sidelined from working. On Christmas Eve in 2010, she was the victim of a hit-and-run, putting her in the hospital for two months and leaving her out of work for a year while she recovered. During that time, one of her two sons took a break from school to help take care of her. Once she was better and could return to work, she was adamant about her son going back to school and continuing his education.

Lucy has also invested in her own education to better herself. Since first coming to Bottomless Closet in February 2018, she has attended nearly 100 workshops and has become a regular face at our morning yoga sessions. “I love all of the workshops offered by Bottomless Closet,” says Lucy. “I learn a lot, but sometimes I am also reaffirming my knowledge.” Lucy has already received her certificate for completing the Financial Management workshop series and is on track to graduate from the Professional Development workshop series this December. Not only have the workshops reinforced what her parents instilled in her about saving, but she has also begun financial planning, including thoughtfully setting aside money for her own funeral. “You never know what is going to happen, and I don’t want my sons to be stuck with the bills.”

Her supervisors at Macy’s have noticed the same initiative and strong work ethic she has displayed in our workshop programming. Her supervisors say she regularly goes above and beyond whatever project she is working on, takes immense pride in her work, is personable with the customers, and suggests ideas for making some of their processes run more smoothly. “I thought I was giving an opportunity to someone in need,” says Brenda, “but I quickly realized that I hired someone who helped me meet my needs at the counter.”

Macy’s just extended Lucy’s seasonal employment contract, and they are looking to make a permanent position for her at the Clinique counter.

Yairi

Yairi first came to Bottomless Closet in 2017. As a single parent with no job and no economic support, Yairi had to apply for public assistance to cover at least the basic, urgent needs for her two kids and herself, while she was still looking for a job.

She was referred to a back-to-work program and she remembers having three job interviews back to back in the same week, but no appropriate clothes to wear. “I really wanted to invest in my appearance understanding how much first impressions matter, but I truly could not afford it.”

“When I visited Bottomless Closet, I received self-confidence and support. All of the staff members greeted me with positivity and a bunch of smiles – they already believed in me without even knowing me yet! I received resume preparation, interview tips and practice, clothing from head to toe and tips to get the job. I felt like the queen of the night.”

Of the three interviews Yairi had that week, she got the job she wanted and just celebrated her two-year anniversary working as a Case Manager at the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island. In her role, Yairi provides support to a diverse clientele in need of employment or internship experience. Yairi even gets to refer new clients to Bottomless Closet to receive the same kind of help she received.

“I truly believe from my own experience in what this organization can do for women in need.”

Marianette

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in the fall of 2017, Marianette, a single mom, hid with her two young daughters in the blackened out hallway of their home as the storm shook and cracked her concrete walls, took down trees, flooded her home, blew out windows in her neighborhood, and tossed their car around like a toy.

“We sat there for 12 hours, just listening to the wind,” recalled Marianette. “The communication was out. There were no cell phones, there was no radio, no electricity, nothing. It was just the wind and the darkness. It was daytime and it went completely dark. I’ve never felt that kind of fear in my life. I was trying to keep calm for my girls, but I was just praying not to have a heart attack. They were saying to me, “Mommy I’m scared,” and they were crying next to me. I just told them, “It’s okay to be scared. I’m scared too. But everything is gonna be fine; we’re gonna be fine.”

“We opened the door and went outside, and it was like it was another place. It was like a bomb hit the ground and burned everything. There were no trees, there was nothing, it was totally devastated,” remembers Marianette.

With no electricity, no food, no gas, and no clean water, Marianette knew her daughters couldn’t stay in those conditions. They grabbed whatever remaining belongings they had and went to her mother’s house a couple of hours away, further inland. “And then the nightmare continued,” said Marianette. “We wouldn’t have water for another month. We had to take little sips of water to save what we had for everybody. There were 13 of us in the house with my mom, my brothers, and my kids. So every day, we were able to give my girls one glass of water each. For us, it was half a glass.”

In the beginning, Marianette didn’t want to leave Puerto Rico. It was the only home she and her daughters had ever known. She had always worked two jobs, as an art teacher and an event planner. But with the schools closed due to conditions that were sickening the students, and no one planning special events, she couldn’t find work. Unable to pay their rent and struggling for food, Marianette made the decision to move to Florida. A friend of hers let them stay at her house until her landlord made them leave, at which point her friend’s sister invited them to stay with her in New York City.

When she was referred to Bottomless Closet by Goodwill, she didn’t know what her appointment was going to be like. “They were going to help me to be able to look good on my first day at work, but I was shocked. I’m really grateful. My coach was so nice. She made me feel so, so special. I was a little bit worried about my first day of work because I don’t have the proper stuff to wear. And she helped me with everything.”

“I ended up getting hired by Mercy Drive. It’s a company that works with families that have people with disabilities, so I’m going to be a caseworker, so I’m going to be in contact with the family, and try to be the mediator with them and the proprietors so they can get all the help for the needs they have. And now I get to help other people with my job. I think at some point, you have to pay it back. And that’s really a good thing to do … and I want to do it,” said Marianette.

“I think that there’s a lot of people out there like me – and I was lucky. I was really lucky,” said Marianette. “I have a roof, and I have food every day on the table. We are really lucky. I know it was painful and we’re still missing home and asking ourselves why this happened, why your life changes in one day – just like that – but we’re lucky, because there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have anywhere to go. Yes, we lost a lot of stuff, but we’re here … and I have a lot of angels.”

While she’s working, she’s trying to put on a brave face for her two daughters and help them feel at home in New York. “I have to do something for my little ones – I can’t just sit here and cry about what happened to me,” said Marianette. “I’m going to encourage my girls to move on and feel good and be happy.”

Cristal

Cristal’s journey from her first appointment at Bottomless Closet to where she is today is a true testament to the strength and resilience of our clients. The daughter of two hearing-impaired parents on public assistance for people with disabilities, Cristal lived in Section 8 Housing for a good majority of her life. Prior to finishing college, her mother was unable to cover the rent and in 2011, they were evicted from their home. After connecting with Fedcap Rehabilitation Services, they referred Cristal to Bottomless Closet for her first appointment.

“I was amazed at the experience you feel when arriving at the boutique,” recalls Cristal. In addition to receiving interview clothing, Cristal was able to polish her resume and prep for her interview with one of our volunteer Career Coaches. She quickly obtained employment and was able to take advantage of the resources that both Fedcap and Bottomless Closet were able to provide.

Since visiting Bottomless Closet, Cristal says she has felt more empowered. “It’s not just a place where you receive clothing.

It is an environment where you can feel absolutely beautiful and confident in your capabilities. Most importantly, your experience at Bottomless Closet will change your perspective and attitude about your self-value.”

Things ultimately came full-circle for Cristal, as the agency that referred her to Bottomless Closet offered her a full-time job. She now works in Fedcap’s WeCARE Program, where she focuses on assisting those who were once in her position, and referring new clients to Bottomless Closet. Cristal helps provide her clients with various employment services including job preparation and job development.

Fluent in American Sign Language, she is also able to assist Fedcap’s hearing-impaired clients.

Stephanie

Stephanie is starting her career in the same place where she started her education – the very same elementary school in Queens that she attended as a kid.

“I am going to be a family worker there, so basically a social worker. The school goes from kindergarten all the way through fifth grade. I’ll be able to help the kids with lots of things – family needs, issues, questions – all of that.”

Her favorite part about her new job is that she can be there for kids in a way that she did not experience herself. “I’ll be a mentor for them. It’s what I’ve wanted to do my entire life, because I didn’t have that growing up, so I feel like that’s what I wanted to do with my life – help those in need.”

In fact, you might say it is in her genes. “My aunt is a social worker, too. Before I went on the interview, she encouraged me to just be myself and be genuine and ‘people will love you as you are,’ and it worked.”

Turns out that there were a few familiar faces when she arrived for her interview. “As soon as I got into the office at the school, I started recognizing some of the office staff and some of the teachers that I had. It was really nice. I feel like there’s good energy there.”

On top of her new job, Stephanie is also going to school for social work – she is currently half-way through her Bachelors for Human Services.

Taieisha

Taieisha has been dancing since she was a kid, and soon she will be dancing (well, walking) down the aisle of an airplane as a brand new flight attendant for a major airline.

“I’ve been dancing since I was three years old, and I’ve even danced backup for Rihanna, at the VMAs (the MTV Video Music Awards), and once for Drake, too. I also dance for an urban burlesque group here in the city, and I’m a dance teacher for young girls, too.”

Despite dancing in front of crowds, she admits she was super nervous about the interview process. She credits her appointment at Bottomless Closet with giving her the confidence she needed. “After I left here, and I could see myself dressed up like that, it gave me the confidence to go in there and kill the interview. They told me right afterward that I got the job.”

Taieisha has always loved traveling, so she is excited that this job will enable her to do more of it. “And with the career path I’m trying to take now, the flexibility will still allow me to dance, so I think it’s going to be great.”

After completing a month of training in Minneapolis, she will be flying the friendly skies.

LaToya

When LaToya came in for her first appointment, she said her volunteer career coach only made some subtle tweaks here and there to her resume. Little did she know though, that those subtle tweaks would make a world of difference in her job search. “I had been looking for a job for months, but after I came to Bottomless Closet for the first time, I was offered a job the very same day as my next interview,” recalls LaToya. “Responses to my new resume have been flooding in since then, and I’ve had multiple job offers, including for higher-paying positions than the ones I applied for.”

LaToya began working at Radio City Music Hall just in time for the holiday season, where she was given a supervisory position instead of the entry-level role she’d originally submitted her resume in response to. “The improvements made to my resume helped my skills and personality really shine.”

Cricely

The fall of 2017 was incredibly difficult for Cricely. “I came here from Puerto Rico on October 15. I was born and raised here in New York, but when I was 14 I moved to Puerto Rico with my mother, so she could take care of my grandfather, and eventually we ended up staying there. I was there for 20 years.

And then Hurricane Maria happened.

“I’ve been through other hurricanes before, like George, but none of them compare to Maria. It was horrible. We had no power, no nothing. With Maria, I had a hunch that the banking systems would be down, so we had taken as much cash out of the bank as we could beforehand.”

As it turns out, her hunch was pretty accurate. “The next day, it was so bad. Two days after the hurricane, going to the supermarket, getting stuff, it was horrible. The lines were three or four hours, and then they would only let you buy certain stuff – one loaf of bread, one pack of bottled water. If you didn’t gas up before Maria, you’d have to sleep at the gas station the night before in order to get gas by 5 o’clock the next afternoon. The lines took that long. It was scary. There was no water to flush the toilets. You’d expect that they’d have water, but they didn’t. No clean drinking water. I actually took a couple of showers in the rain,” she recalls.

Despite going through that horrific disaster, Cricely was more worried about her family members back in New York. “I knew our family here couldn’t contact us, and we were worried for them. We wanted to let them know as soon as possible, but we had to wait two weeks before the city of San Juan at least had phone service, so we could go into the city and try to make phone calls. That was about a 50-minute drive. And the roads were covered in trees, street signs, debris, even dead animals. It was scary.”

Before the hurricane, Cricely made a living as a seamstress and a custom tailor. “I would do custom designs and patterns; I was a clothing designer. But there’s no economy there for that right now.” This week, Cricely is starting her new job as an elevator operator for an intergovernmental organization, working with the building’s security team.

She is currently staying in a shelter with her husband, who is also unemployed and looking for work. “It’s very hard. There’s a lot of screaming and fighting, so it’s impossible to sleep. The only thing they give you is the room. You have to share a bathroom, which is never clean. And there’s no kitchen, so you can’t cook your own meals. And the shelter does not provide food. Right now, thankfully I got a job, so hopefully I’ll be able to eat better soon.”

When she came to Bottomless Closet, she was surprised to find work clothing in her size. “I didn’t think I would find something here because everywhere else, there aren’t a lot of plus-size clothes. When I came here and I saw the blazer and the pants that were presented to me, and the shoes, I was really happy. Everything was nice and professional looking. That was surprising to me, so I really liked that.”

As for the future, Cricely says she would love to go back to school and get her Bachelor’s degree, and eventually start her own plus-size clothing line.

Mireille

Mireille lost her job two months ago, at a time when her house was in complete chaos. Not only had she been working very long hours at her last job, but she was also selflessly collecting donations of clothing and other items for children in Haiti, and organizing them in her tiny studio apartment – something she still does.

She says she felt an instant pick-me-up during her appointment. “I think that what you people are doing at Bottomless Closet is fantastic. Your volunteer coached me and she kind of perked up my trust in myself. She dressed me like a very professional person,” Mireille says.

Turns out that the outfit worked. “When I walked into the interview, all eyes just turned and they looked at me walking in there with confidence. I mean, I have clothes here and there, but I was going to meet the CFO of the company. After I was dressed by one of your coaches, I felt like, “Here I come!”

Her confidence came from more than just the clothes though. “My coach trained me on how to answer the interview questions, and what questions to ask them, too. When I asked one of the questions that my coach encouraged me to ask, the eyes of the CFO went like, wow. They were very impressed.”

“After the interview, everybody was very pleased, and they told me that they would get back to me in less than a day.” They did, and they offered Mireille an accounting job. “I am going to be an Accounts Receivable Specialist.”

“I thank you guys at Bottomless Closet for giving me the confidence. From the time I walked in the door here, the energy, the environment, everything was inviting.”

Now that she is working again, she hopes to package up more donations to send to children in Haiti very soon.

Roselyn

Roselyn’s personal hero is her mother. “She raised four children by herself, working two jobs as an assistant teacher,” she says, beaming.

To this day, her mother is a constant source of advice and inspiration for her. “She always knows how to make the worst situation into a better situation.”

She looks for solutions immediately – something Roselyn thinks she inherited from her mother. “She would always say to me, ‘This is not the end of it; you have other options. I need you to be a strong, confident woman.’ She would just encourage me to deal with the situation the best way you can, and then from there you can move forward.”

Before Roselyn came to Bottomless Closet, when she was really struggling, her mom’s words would pop into her brain. She would say, ‘You’re not going to give up – we’re not going to do that. Because then what is the point? What is the point of struggling to then just give up?’ So she always reinforced that into us.”

Roselyn has a job right now, but she dreams of getting into a career where she can make a difference. “I would love to help people. I would love to give back. If I could work with veterans, the elderly, the homeless, battered women or abused children, I would love that.” She could easily see herself transitioning into a career as a home health aide for those who cannot care for themselves. “I want to make a difference. I feel like I was put on this earth to help. I have a very big heart. I want to give back.”

Through working, she has realized that it is about so much more than just having a job or punching a clock. “I want to feel good and be happy going to work. I want to enjoy my job, enjoy my career, and do something that is meaningful.”