Students at King Tech High School in Anchorage wear professional clothing to class every Wednesday. The routine is meant to get them used to wearing the blazers and button-ups they’ll need during job interviews and working at an office.
“We often see students borrowing from their moms, which is great — moms are very fashionable,” said entrepreneurship teacher Stacy Miller. “But oftentimes for students, it doesn’t fit right so it’s not comfortable. They don’t feel like it’s their style, so they don’t really get to own it.”
That’s where her class’s new business comes in: a clothing store called Pro Fit.
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It opened on Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and shares space with a student-run coffee shop in the school’s entrepreneurship classroom. There are racks of pants, blazers, blouses and dresses, plus shelves of shoes and bags. For Anchorage School District students, each item costs $10 — just enough to cover operating expenses.
Miller said she came up with the idea for a clothing store, and her students were quickly on board. They helped her look through clothing donations from the community and items she bought at thrift stores to decide what to resell.
One of those students was 11th grader Carolina Vakulich. She was happy to find some Banana Republic clothes among the donations, especially because the Anchorage store recently closed.
“I was really glad to see that we had some of their stuff, because it is expensive, but we got to lower the price to an affordable one,” she said.
Students also learned how to organize the inventory and plan the layout of the store. Twelfth grader Lupe’lani Vaaia said it was harder than she expected.
“There’s organizing, color-coding, sizing and figuring out what’s the best way for a customer to come through and shop,” Vaaia said. “That’s one thing we had to go through — rearranging where to put the clothes so that the shopping experience was easy and comfortable.”
Nearly all the clothing currently in the store is for young women. Miller said she and her students wanted to help them figure out sizing and fit, which can get complicated when girls move from junior to adult sizes. Plus, she said, it can be nice to shop without parents.
“It’s not mom or dad saying you need to do this, they’re exploring it for themselves,” she said. “And it gives me the opportunity to really talk to them about different ways of dressing for different industries.”
The store is open during morning classes at King Tech, during lunch and after school. Teachers from other district schools can organize field trips to the store during other times, too.
Students who want to shop there reserve 30-minute appointments, during which students and staff talk to them about what they’re looking for, what kinds of work they’ll be doing and what they feel most comfortable wearing.
The entrepreneurship class invited a few King Tech students to try shopping there before the grand opening. Miller said the benefit was clear.
“We see their posture totally change once they get into the outfit,” she said. “They’ll look in the mirror and say, ‘I look like the boss.’ And then they own that. It’s affordable enough that they can buy them, they’re theirs. They can own the look and also own that feeling of empowerment.”
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