A new Birmingham-based nonprofit, Morgan’s Closet, will cut the ribbon on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. at its new location at 5501 First Avenue North in the heart of Woodlawn.


Morgan’s Closet seeks to provide job interview training for women, with a special focus on clothing. It is the brainchild of Andrea Collins and named for her daughter, Morgan – and the idea to start this nonprofit to help disadvantaged women enter the workforce stemmed from the lowest point in Collins’ life.


“Four years ago, I was in an abusive marriage,” she said. “Abusers steal confidence and self-worth from the people they torment. It was the darkest time of my life. Morgan gave me the strength to not give up. I did not want her to fall victim to that cycle, and she deserved a healthy mom in a good place in life. It wasn’t easy for Morgan and me to escape, but we did. We started over from scratch, and it was not easy.”


Morgan’s Closet wants to emphatically tell women that their current situation – no matter how dark – is not their forever situation, and that, through the nonprofit’s work, they seek to see the number of women in the workforce increase and simultaneously decrease the number of women and families living at or below the poverty level.


“Many moms know we fight for our children,” Collins said. “That mama bear comes out in us to protect our children. I felt I owed it to her [Morgan] to survive, and I wanted so badly to make it to the point of thriving to give her a better life. She is my inspiration. I believe I was given a gift that is not mine to keep, but rather to share with other women and help them, because I can relate to them and want to show them what life is like on the other side of survival.”


Morgan’s Closet’s workshops will begin in February, Collins said, and center around women learning in a casual, safe, comfortable setting what is required in a job interview. Workshops last four hours and begin with a roundtable session where women work through pieces of a professional job interview outfit. Mock job interviews are held where women learn top job interview questions and the best way to answer them, based on their work history. Lunch is provided, followed by attendees selecting clothes for three interview outfits from the closet.

“We have dressing rooms to try items on, and once they have found what they love, they go home with not only the three outfits, but the knowledge of how to dress for success,” Collins said.


Morgan’s Closet then follows up with women 30 and 60 days after their workshop to see how many job interviews they have had, if they have a new job, and if they are making more than their previous job. They also provide attendees with a list of additional resources, knowing, as Collins said, that Morgan’s Closet is but one piece of the puzzle.


“From my personal experience as a single parent who struggled with employment and paying my bills sometimes, it is hard to ask for help and then hard to find where help is,” she said. “Our resource guide connects women to a full scope of resources.”


The combined resource of training and clothing has not existed in Birmingham until Morgan’s Closet, Collins said. Each workshop holds eight to 10 women, and a $100 donation will sponsor one woman coming through the nonprofit’s workshops. And the closet at Morgan’s Closet is continually looking to be filled with anything a woman might wear on a job interview – from slacks to skirts to dresses, blouses, blazers, belts, and dress shoes.


“We would love to give your clothes a new purpose,” Collins said.


In addition to attending Saturday’s ribbon cutting to meet Collins (and Morgan!), there are ample ways to help this burgeoning nonprofit. To learn more about Morgan’s Closet’s work and how you can support it by donating or volunteering, click here or email morgansclosetbirmingham@gmail.com.


“We don’t want to give women a resource that will simply help them survive, but rather give them a resource that will allow them to thrive,” Collins said.