TNS Executive Client Spotlight: Melissa Norden, Executive Director for Bottomless Closet
Bottomless Closet’s mission is to be the connection that inspires and guides disadvantaged New York City women to enter the workforce and achieve success.
Since 1999, Bottomless Closet has served more than 37,000 women in need, with the help of over 150 volunteers and over 200 referral partners. This year marks their 20th Anniversary!
Melissa joined Bottomless Closet as Executive Director in 2016. Her impressive resume working in the non-profit sector, as well as her background in law make her the perfect champion to lead Bottomless Closet into the future.
Q. What is your favorite part about your job and why?
I have worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years. It is rare that you get to witness the results of your work happening in real time, especially when you are in a back-end desk job. I am fully immersed in our mission, and I get to see firsthand the transformations of the women who come through our doors every day. They often look forlorn and lost when they come in our doors, having experienced the worst of life and “the system.”
The expressions on their faces really tell the story of how they have been treated like a number at every turn. Yet, when I see them an hour and a half later at the end of their appointment, sometimes it is hard to recognize them. Their experience at Bottomless Closet has transformed them – not just physically with the clothing they are wearing – but more importantly, their new sense of self and optimism is apparent. They will carry that with them through their interview and into their new careers.
Q. What sets Bottomless Closet apart from other women’s initiatives?
What really makes Bottomless Closet special is the individualized nature of the way we deliver our services. We are built on a women helping women model. Every client receives the undivided attention of a fully trained volunteer career coach who will handle the duration of their appointment – from dressing the clients for their job interviews, to working through their resumes and conducting mock interviews.
The career coach will transform her client from a mere applicant into a true candidate for the job by delivering these tangible experiences. Additionally, she is giving her the intangibles of a fresh perspective – instilling hope, confidence and a can-do attitude. Most of the appointments end with hugs, smiles, and a totally new outlook.
Q. What is your most memorable moment as the Executive Director of Bottomless Closet?
My mantra to our appreciative clients who are thankful for how we help them is always to “pay it forward” in some way. We recently held an event for International Women’s Day. The event was a great lineup of trailblazing women from different backgrounds who participated in an inspiring panel discussion about female empowerment, how far we have come in the fight for gender equality, and the work we still have left to do.
Not only did we have a client on the panel who overcame horrific obstacles to become a counselor for others in need, but we also had a client in the audience who had purchased a VIP ticket to the event to support us, when just a year ago she had been struggling herself! Seeing the women we serve come out on the other side after hardship, become self-sufficient, and then decide to help others and give back means the world to us.
Q. How has your partnership with TNS helped enhance your business objectives?
TNS is a true partner to Bottomless Closet. They make themselves available to us 24/7 by phone and by email. They put in the time to understand our organization and our objectives and look at our needs holistically and proactively. They are always looking at different ways we can work more efficiently as an organization, while still keeping our limited resources in mind.
Melissa has big plans for Bottomless Closet in the near future including extended hours of service, increasing partnerships and a Bottomless Closet mobile unit.
To further these initiatives, Bottomless Closet is looking for new supporters! If you would like to get involved with Bottomless Closet by donating or volunteering, please visit www.bottomlesscloset.org.