Suiting 101 aims to help students dress for success

It’s probably safe to say that many of us watched our usual grooming habits fly out the window this past year. Why wear a dress when you can wear a T-shirt? Why a suit, when sweatpants suffice? 

For the family behind the custom clothing shop Brown & Brown, however, personal presentation speaks volumes no matter which stage of life people find themselves in, and this year, the family is taking that philosophy one step further with Suiting 101, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Baton Rouge youth strut their stuff in school and on the streets.

“We created the nonprofit in honor of my late husband, Eugene Brown Sr.,” says Denise Brown. “My husband had a passion for helping people and he had a passion for education, believing that everyone should go to college if they can, and he also obviously liked to dress young men for success, dressing several young people for their first job interviews.” 

Beginning in August, Suiting 101 will provide high school students with ACT prep through Sylvan Learning, engage in community mentorship sessions, teach financial literacy with the help of Neighbors Federal Credit Union, and offer the clothiers’ own expertise on image and presentation. By the end of the program, intended to conclude each May or June with its own “graduation” ceremony, both male and female mentees will be fitted with their own off-the-rack suit and accessories to prepare them for college and the working world.

“I worked with my father for about 15 years before he passed, and one of the things we shared as a common belief is that we should strive to control what few things we can in life,” says current Brown & Brown owner Geno Brown. “We want to positively impact these kids’ ability in school, but also their ability to get job placement, helping them hatch a plan to enter the corporate world and start their professional lives. Part of that lies in presenting ourselves professionally, since first impressions can be so important.”

Suiting 101’s immediate priority is spreading the word as board members search for corporate sponsors, volunteers, a venue sponsor and even a possible partnership with a restaurant to help with snacks for mentoring sessions. 

The organization will hold a suit drive dubbed “Suits for Success” this Saturday at the Main Library’s west side parking lot. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of inRegister. To keep up with inRegister, subscribe to the free inRegister@Home e-newsletter here