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Bottomless Closet Helps NYC Women Prepare For The Job Market

Bottomless Closet helps disadvantaged women in New York City prepare for a successful job interview. The nonprofit was started in 1999 and has helped more than 46,000 women in need by providing professional clothing, make-up, and hair products. The organization has also provided one-on-one career coaching meetings that aid in creating the best resume, preparing for interviews, and successfully transitioning into a new job.

Bottomless Closet arose as a response to obstacles to employment that some women on assistance were encountering in 1996. The passing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act changed the U.S. welfare system by adding a time limit on federal welfare benefits, altering women’s transition from public assistance to the workforce. 

Photo Courtesy Bottomless Closet

Women are referred to Bottomless Closet by partner organizations once they have a job interview.

The company has affiliations with numerous employment training programs, job developers, and fellow nonprofits across the five boroughs. 

Women referred to Bottomless Closet can pick out professional clothing, shoes, and accessories for the interview and attend professional development workshops with topics ranging from personal enrichment to financial management. Resume guidance and interview practice are cornerstones of the services offered.

Video Courtesy Bottomless Closet

“Our clients have challenges. When they come in here, they put those challenges somewhere else on a shelf, and they just look forward,” volunteer Mira Graetz-Ball said in a “Today Show” interview. “It’s so important for women to help women. We understand the need to build confidence.”

Executive Director Melissa Norden believes the most important thing Bottomless Closet does is help build that self-confidence for women who may have reached a difficult point in their lives.

“The clothes are really a vehicle here to having you feel that confidence,” she said to “Spectrum News NY 1.” “We can’t change their education background. We can’t change if they have a prison record or things like that, but we can change how they present themselves and how they believe in themselves.”

Photo Courtesy Bottomless Closet 

Today, Bottomless Closet has as many as 300 active volunteers at any given time, who donate a combined 14,000 hours per year to help women land jobs.

The nonprofit has attracted partnerships with corporations like L’Oréal, the InterContinental Hotels Group, and even Google. InterContinental Hotels Group donated $35,000 to help women build careers in the hospitality industry.

“A lot of us need a little help to get back on our feet, and it’s just nice to know we have an organization here to do that,” Ursel Pedroso, Bottomless Closet client, said in a 2022 interview with “Pix 11.”

Photo Courtesy Bottomless Closet NYC

Bottomless Closet takes clothing donations, which are eligible for a tax deduction. Any clothing the company cannot use is sent out to other nonprofits. The company is almost all volunteer-driven. Volunteers can sign up on the organization’s website.”A lot of our clients have never envisioned themselves in anything but a pair of jeans working at a McDonald’s or something like that, and the transformation from the beginning to the end of a visit here, it’s just a complete 180 sometimes,” Gineyda Diaz, Bottomless Closet’s former director of operations, said to “Gothamist.” “It’s so beautiful.

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