Wear the Walk is delighted to be partnering with SmartWorks Charity this spring to do our bit for women and sustainability.

Last week, we visited Smartworks’s branch in Islington. Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to women in need. They give women the confidence, the self-belief, and the practical tools they require to succeed at interviews and start a new chapter of their life. We asked one of the lovely stylist Erica Cosburn a few questions!

Here is what she said:

Can you tell us about the service you provide?

At the core of our service is dressing and interview prep via an appointment at one of our Smart Works centres. The women are often referred by a jobcenter. During her visit, each woman receives a high-quality interview outfit (theirs to keep) tailored to their taste and style by volunteer stylists. This is followed by dedicated one-to-one interview training with an experienced recruitment, HR, or coaching professional. But it doesn’t end here, when the women we see get a job offer, we provide 5 more outfits!

What is the motivation behind your service?

Going to an interview is a daunting experience, the fact is, you are judged the first 30 seconds on your appearance. It’s human nature, unfortunately… If you were an interviewer would you judge someone who looks sharp or someone who has a whole in their shoes the same way (granted they have the same work skills)? Or if you were to have an interview, would you be able to focus on your strength with worn clothes without doubting that each word you say would be questioned? You would think it’s petty that clothes have this power, but at SmartWorks, we believe that these short intervention has a significant impact as our clients start believing in their own ability to succeed.

How are the women like when they first meet you?

All the women we meet are different, but the common feeling they have is apprehension. They don’t know what to expect, they fear of being judged due to their background, so their confidence level is really low. We know that they have difficult backgrounds, we can’t say that we understand how they feel, so we do our best to make them feel special.

How do you work your magic?

We start by curating a few pieces and simply ask them to try it on. We take time to address anything they are nervous about. Let it be the upcoming interview, their families, the clothing, their dreams…! Any topic that makes them feel comfortable. Then as we try on more and more clothes, we see an immediate change in their body language: they stand taller, they smile more, and they become confident in owning what they are wearing. At the end of the day, we offer a goody bag so that they can continue pampering themselves at home. The magic comes from their smile, not our work.

What is the first item that you advise?

There is nothing like a good jacket to sharpen you up and a handbag to give an instant fierceness to your whole outfit. We are lucky to have various size range, so finding the right fit is never an issue.

Is there anything that you would like our Wear The Walk customer to drop off in particular?
Yes! It’s so hard to find bags and shoes with small heels. That said, anything appropriate for an interview will make us happy and will make a difference to the women who come visit us.

​Ladies, donate your old work clothes either to Wear The Walk or one of the SmartWorks offices and we will give you a 50% off your first month’s subscription with Wear The Walk!

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