Flash's Professional Closet provides accessibility to fashion
Even though Mendi Sample was born blind, she still cares about fashion. And she knows that finding an accessible place for professional clothing gives her an edge come graduation day.
She’ll be looking for a job this spring after she graduates from Kent State University at Stark with her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“Just because I am blind doesn’t mean that I do not care about my clothing, or how I look,” said Sample, while at Flash’s Professional Closet preparing for a photo shoot to publicize the service. Located in the lower level of the Campus Center, the professional closet is free and open to all students.
Flash’s Professional Closet held its grand opening on campus this spring, and follows suit with similar endeavors at universities across the state. The closet is currently stocked with lots of clothing, thanks to a new community partnership with the Belden Village Mall.
Flash’s Professional Closet has a visible presence at the mall through the creation of Flash’s Professional Closet Donation Station. The drop-off donation site serves as an encouragement for mall shoppers to donate gently used, or new, professional clothing to students in need of career-oriented apparel.
“Flash’s Professional Closet allows us at Belden Village Mall to maintain a connection with our community and our local students that we are so proud of and grateful for,” said Jennifer Grisez, marketing director at the Belden Village Mall. “We love that because of this initiative we can impact students of varying needs and help them overcome limited accessibility, as well as help them look amazing!”
Rose Montesano, a sophomore, helped Sample select a navy blue dress with flats to match for the recent photo shoot. Montesano, who is studying to become a special education teacher, said she enjoys helping people.
“The smile they get when they achieve something they didn’t believe was possible, that’s really priceless, and that’s why I want to work in special education,” said the 20-year-old Marlington High School graduate.
For Sample, Montesano’s help meant a new friendship. “It’s so great when people take the time to see things from the other person’s point of view,” said Sample. “I don’t like to make being blind who I am. I don’t let it define me, but when people take the time to understand, that’s pretty special.”
Sight has escaped Sample for the past 47 years. Born premature, she has only known what it is like to see shapes and colors. Still, she says, “there’s so much help out there.”
She said she’s happy to take life not only one day at a time, but one step at a time. And, thanks to Flash’s Professional Closet, she can make that step fashion forward.