Suited for Good
Charity Outfits Those in Need
Emmanuel Lotubai is a refugee from South Sudan earning a computer engineering degree from the University of Utah. Even though there is a lot on his mind as he prepares for his upcoming internship interviews, there’s one thing he won’t have to worry about: finding a suit to wear.
“People doing the interviews look at how you present yourself,” Lotubai says. “So having a suit is one of the greatest things that will help me.”
Not only does Suited for Good donate tailored suits to refugees, but the nonprofit gives suits to anyone undergoing a challenge. In two years, it donated more than 600 suits to deserving individuals. The company coordinates with its customers to find people in need who would appreciate a new suit.
“We’re trying to level the playing field,” says BJ Stringham, the charity’s founder and president of UWM, an upscale men’s clothing store in downtown Salt Lake City formerly known as Utah Woolen Mills. “We empower the man inside. If you can eliminate the barriers physical appearance creates, the possibilities are endless.”
Something as simple as a suit goes a long way to help people overcoming homelessness, health challenges and the difficulties of resettlement.
“Suits cost a lot so to get one for free was an extra relief off my chest,” Lotubai says. “I don’t think I could’ve bought a suit myself. I just want to thank them for what they did for me and the other students.”
Creating a Charity
Suited for Good began in 2016 after a client asked Stringham to donate a suit for an auction benefitting a friend with brain cancer. Stringham attended the event and left feeling that he should do more to help people.
“I called up my dad and relayed the experience to him,” Stringham says. “I was very emotional. I said, ‘We’ve got to do something with our business. We’ve got a great clientele. We are a solid business. We should be able to harness all of our strengths into something we could do in our community.’”
He eventually came up with the idea of giving away suits. Some tried to discourage him, saying it would be too expensive. There was one friend, however, who said, “BJ, you’ve got to do it. The coolest thing is that every success in your business equates to success in your community.”
Suits on the Move
In the beginning, most suit recipients visited UWM Men’s Shop to get outfitted. Then Stringham decided to expand the charity’s reach to rural areas and even to other states. To accomplish that, his parents purchased a motorhome, filled it with suits and took Suited for Good on the road. Recipients show up for appointments just like they do in the store.
“I want the motorhome to go across the country and be something our family is known for,” Stringham says. “I want to see it grow and touch more people.”