Rachel Larberg and Alexis Sims, '20

Two students stand in front of clothing rack

Sitting in professor Richard Wagner, Ph.D, assistant professor of economics’ Sustainability and Environmental Policy class last semester, senior transfer students Alexis Sims and Rachel Larberg were tasked with the assignment of coming up with a way that they could promote sustainability on campus. They came up with some ideas, but another took its place. They knew that they had an initiative that would benefit Rockhurst. They took their idea to Laura Fitzpatrick, Ph.D, professor of economics for advice, and began working to bring “The Closet” to campus. 

“When I joined DSP [Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity], I was elected to e-committee, and we were faced with this issue of our members not dressing up in professional wear in the way that we would want them to and in the way that they feel comfortable and excited to be in the workforce,” Larberg said. “We can’t ask our members to go buy clothing they maybe can’t afford.”

Larberg and Sims came to the conclusion that if they were seeing this as an issue in their organization, that there might also be a need within the larger Rockhurst community. 

The idea stems from an array of their own passions. Larberg used to buy and sell clothing herself, which comes from her general love of clothing. Sims had studied and was fascinated with fast fashion, and thought this would be a good way of completing the reduce, reuse, recycle circle. They brought their passions together, and seeing the need for some type of thrifting opportunity right here on campus, they began to take steps to put their plan in motion. 

“First, we met with Dr. Fitzpatrick and then we emailed professor Wagner and said, you know, if it’s alright for us to change our project, we thought of something that we’re actually going to put into place if you would allow us to use it for this, and he said yeah,” Sims said. 

Sims reached out to Dr. Fitzpatrick because of Fitzpatrick’s own work within the Rockhurst community. 

“I saw the work she did with Grandma’s Pantry and I knew how passionate she was about that,” Sims said. “I saw the similarities in our projects and I thought that she would be a great person to go to and at least seek some advice on how to implement The Closet.”

Next, Larberg worked on internal and external proposals for the project. One going to Turnstyles Thrift, the store they were hoping to partner with, and one going to DSP in hopes to get the organization involved in the initiative. 

“It was really about us making sure that our brothers were on board.” Larberg said. “I have a very strong partnership with Turnstyles and they support Catholic Charities. Proceeds go directly back into the community. They have just absolutely jumped on board, and donated all of the clothing that we have. We also did a couple of smaller clothing drives, and we’re planning on doing much bigger drives to support them so it’s going to be this great long-term partnership.”

Additionally, Larberg and Sims are hoping to partner with a dry cleaning business to offer free or reduced rates for students.

So far, they have received positive feedback from faculty, staff and students. 

“We have had multiple professors reach out to us and say that they have things to donate,” Sims said. 

“It’s something that’s so special to us, and I think what makes it special to us is the fact that we have received an abundance of support from faculty,” Larberg said. “Just knowing that we’re supported, that we’re seen and we are championed. It’s cool [as a transfer student] that I get the opportunity to jump in and do something really good for the community.”

Seeing as both are seniors, they have created a committee of around five students within DSP to help with The Closet and to hopefully keep it running after they’re gone. 

“The clothing, the spreadsheets, the work behind it, everything’s there. People just need to jump in. We’re ready to champion people. Let us help you help your community too,” Larberg said. 

“As of succession, we don’t quite know yet. We are seniors, and keeping in mind being a transfer student, I haven’t had four years here to really make a big impact,” Larberg said. “There’s a part of me that wants to leave a small part of me here, and I want to leave this place better than I found it. I think that is a huge part of why we want it to continue, we have great partnerships, we think this can work and faculty wants us to grow.”

Although Larberg and Sims created this initiative in a business class and are backed by DSP, they wanted to stress that The Closet is available for the entire Rockhurst community. 

“Any person in our community could have an interview for anything under the sun or could have a networking event for anything. It could be in nursing, it could be in art, it could be anything,” Sims said. “If there is a need for professional clothing, hit us up at The Closet. We have advertised our contact information and we are honestly here for the convenience of the students.”

The Closet is located in the DSP office in Conway 323. You can reach out to either Rachel Larberg or Alexis Sims, or follow DSP on Instagram for more information.