Written by: Maddie Maloy; Assisted by: Angela Apicella
After years of shopping and donating, Lizz Mattingly became very familiar with My Sister’s Closet’s mission, a non-profit organization that provides low-income job-seeking women with professional clothing and learning opportunities. “I really like what they do and how they help these women.”
MSC is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide workforce attire and job skills training to low-income and at-risk women in the Bloomington community. For over 23 years, MSC has served as both a resource and support system for under-privileged women. Their work is accomplished by helping women through fashion, mentoring and advocacy.
This unique, sustainably-supplied boutique is open to the public and features quality brands and classic staples both inside the regular Boutique and the e-Commerce store. All of the store’s items are generously donated, and a dedicated team of employees, interns, and volunteers works to make them available for both clients and shoppers.
Mattingly eventually signed up to volunteer as a model for the e-Commerce store, but soon was offered an employment position. “I didn’t hesitate to seize an employment opportunity when it arose in April 2021,” she said. One day I was talking to Sandy [the Founder and Executive Director] who told me they had an open paid position,” she said. “I thought, I’d give it a shot.”
Being skilled at sewing and alteration work, Mattingly is helping MSC write a grant to purchase a sewing machine, so she can make necessary alterations for low-income women preparing to re-enter the workforce. She is thrilled to use her alteration talents to help these women succeed.
“Working here is probably going to help me transition out of working for a big corporation and more into doing my own stuff and working for smaller businesses, which is my end goal,” she said.
Mattingly’s daily duties currently consist of steaming, tagging, and organizing the hundreds of items donated to the boutique each day.
“As a shopper, I wasn’t aware of just how much effort is put in behind the scenes to prepare these donations for the sales floor,” she said. “I guess I took a lot of the professionalism and organization at MSC for granted, and now… I really appreciate the work that goes into making the store look this nice.”
All new and well-loved items at My Sister’s Closet are meticulously steamed at 202°F transforming every unique piece of clothing. When customers walk into the Boutique, they are greeted with the scent of freshly steamed clothes; and because MSC’s team regularly rotates these one-of-a-kind items on and off the sales floor, customers are greeted with a new shopping experience every time they walk inside.
Mattingly continues to browse the racks at MSC to find sensational clothing pieces.
“This one time I came in, I found a shirt marked down to $4 because it had been here for 3 months,” she said. “It was this purple satin blouse and it had these white mother of pearl snaps on it. It was the coolest shirt, and I was so excited. It’s still one of my favorite shirts.”
Mattingly said her involvement with MSC doesn’t end after she leaves the store. She often talks about her experiences with friends and family, and leverages her volunteerism with a local homeless shelter to promote the services offered at MSC.
“I volunteer at the Shalom Center [Beacon] too, so I see a lot of people and am able to tell them [about our resources],” she said. “If a woman has an interview, but doesn’t have any nice clothes for it – I’m able to tell them, ‘Hey, go to My Sister’s Closet’!”
Mattingly said she is truly honored to work for MSC and is excited for what the future holds. She said she loves working for a small nonprofit with a goal to better the lives of community members.
“I know a lot of women who are experiencing poverty and it’s nice knowing I’m working for an organization that is helping them,” she said.
Discover how to help women move forward through fashion by contacting MSC at 812-333-7710 or visiting the website. They always welcome financial donations, in-kind donations of gently-used clothing, shoes, and accessories, and volunteers to help the operation run smoothly. Donations are greatly appreciated.
My Sister’s Closet is currently seeking a new physical location to host our boutique and services. Our current lease ends December 2022. This process will be a large financial undertaking, so any support is immensely appreciated. Please consider donating to our relocation fund by connecting to the link below.
Donate | My Sister’s Closet of Monroe County (sisterscloset.org)