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Brenau helps students nail their job interviews with confidence — and a suit
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Brenau University's Lila Westmoreland visits Tiger Threads Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, inside the university's Jacobs Building. The store was conceived to help students who can’t afford professional clothing get the items they need for job interviews. - photo by Scott Rogers

For many students, putting on a tailored suit is like donning a cloak of confidence.

This extra dose of professionalism can make all the difference when interviewing for an internship or job, and Brenau University recognizes that. 

To help students along their career paths, Brenau started a clothing closet called Tiger Threads. 

Since November, students have been able to visit the closet, located on the lower level of the John W. Jacobs Jr. Building, and pick out professional clothing for free. 

Lila Westmoreland, director of operation and executive programs at Brenau’s College of Business and Communication, said she got the idea to start the shop when visiting Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong campus. 

She tested the waters for a couple of years at Brenau, offering a pop-up professional clothing store at intern fairs.

Most of the clothing donations were gathered through a partnership with The Rotary Club of Gainesville, and the clothing racks were provided by Brenau’s theater department.

As the students perused the clothing at the intern fairs, Westmoreland asked them to take a survey.

“It was very informative,” Westmoreland said. “The survey resulted in students saying they don’t have anything to wear during interviews and that makes them feel insecure.”

Once the Jacobs building finished renovations this past summer, Westmoreland decided to give the professional clothing closet a year-round space. 

Brenau’s fashion design department students and faculty helped paint the clothing closet’s walls and shelves. They also provided photographs from a recent fashion show, which now adorn a section of the room. 

“It has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” Westmoreland said. “We really want to make it pretty and inviting.”

She plans to finish restocking and decorating the space in the spring and celebrate the accomplishment with a grand opening. 

As Westmoreland equips students with the skills to nab an interview, she never fails to stress the importance of looking the part. Through Tiger Threads, students have one less hurdle for landing their next internship or job.  

“I tell them that this is your one time to convince somebody why you’re perfect for this position,” Westmoreland said. “You want it to be more about what you’re saying and not distracting in any way.”

Looking toward the future of Tiger Threads, Westmoreland hopes to gain a couple of community partners, including large retail companies like Brooks Brothers, JCPenney or Belk. 

For now, the biggest needs are shoes, accessories and a broader range of men’s and women’s suit sizes.

People can make donations, and students can schedule a time to pick out clothing by emailing Westmoreland at lwestmoreland@brenau.edu

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Brenau University's Lila Westmoreland, along with a couple of Brenau staff members, started a clothing closet to help students who need professional clothing. - photo by Scott Rogers
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