Suit Up For Success event dresses students for free


Shoes are put on display at Ryerson’s Start Up for Success event, held at the POD (Kelly McDowell / The Ryersonian)

Ryerson initiative “Suit Up For Success” (SUFS) held its first major event on April 2 at the POD. Students across campus were given gently used professional clothing for free.

Rudhra Persad, co-founder of the initiative, said he was pleased with the success of the event. “It went really well. I always hope for more people to come, but we’ve had over 50 students come and over 100 items have been taken,” Persad said. “The hard work is definitely worth it, We are helping students in their first step to finding a job.”

Persad explained that he brought this idea to Ryerson’s Tri-Mentoring program in 2012, which challenged him to create a successful initiative to help students. ” I was on  another post-secondary education’s Twitter feed and saw they were doing something similar, so I thought, ‘why doesn’t Ryerson have this?'”

Donations came from Ryerson students, faculty members and Goodwill. Finding space for the clothing, steaming it and creating an inventory of the pieces were the team’s biggest challenges.

SUFS used three racks of clothing, two of which displayed clothes for men and one for women,  to share the donated goods with the students. They also displayed shoes, ties, jewelry and belts on tables. Students passing by could stop, browse, and learn more about the initiative and walk away with some free professional attire.

First-year fashion design student, Andre Lahaie, did just that. As he walked by the section of clothing and accessories, he had to stop.

“This event is perfect timing. I’m at the end of my first semester in clothing design and I’m putting my portfolio together and getting ready to hit the streets,” Lahaie said. “I’m kind of in need to be able to reinvent myself and I love shopping, so this is perfect for me.”

Matthew Varghese, a representative from Goodwill, said that they are trying to use a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto to be able to showcase used clothing to students. He said that coming to Ryerson was beneficial to both Goodwill and the students because he had the opportunity to come speak about Goodwill in front of the “future stakeholders.”

“We want to lose the stigma of used clothing in the community,” Varghese said. “And what better way than to come to Ryerson and talk to the students?”

Ashleigh Bryde-Hennessy, project manager, is looking forward to future events.

“We’ve actually just completed our pilot stage so as our first event between pilot and actual launch, it’s exceeded all of our expectations at this event. We’re hoping that we can continue it on a semester basis so one event per semester,” she said.

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