In a small space centered on the second floor the Business Technology building stands Fantastique. Run by student interns, the boutique houses business attire, accessories and books that are all donated. Originally designed to offer business attire for a cheap price to business students, the boutique sells to anyone and offers casual clothing that is sold once a week.
The inception of Fantastique came when Rose LaMuraglia, the dean of business, information technology and cosmetology, “realized a lot of students didn’t have money to buy a business outfit to go on an interview.”
Not being in the shoes of a student with very little income or being unaware what they encounter, she decided a store that sold clothing at a cheap price was the answer. “Sometimes we don’t — we as in teachers — are not suffering and realize what the issues are. There were students I would tell of a great job opportunity and they wouldn’t go to the interview … and they finally said this is what I own.”
Before deciding, she scoured the thrift and consignment stores in the area to see what the prices for business suits were.
“I decided I was going to find a place that was cheaper. So I went to Salvation Army and Goodwill. A consignment will charge $50 bucks for a suit,” she said.
Understanding the prices weren’t exceptional for some of her students, she finally decided to open a secondhand store and shared it with her friends.
“Our original idea was to help the business students. Then we sort of broadened it out,” said Marie Disnew, an administrative assistant. Anyone can purchase clothing and accessories at Fantastique.
Leroy Brady, business communication instructor, explained that many skills are taught to students. However, there was one aspect that was left out and needed to be taught.
“We teach people how to write their resume, different styles of resume, we teach them how to greet people in interviews, and pretty much how to act. … What the dean looked at is we’re missing one part,” he said.
The instructors and students who established the boutique scrambled around to get clothing through collections and donations. With the help of LaMuraglia’s colleagues, Mission Beach Women’s Club and along with others, Fantastique was able to have enough items in shop for the spring semester.
“We got trucks of stuff. These women are wives of retired Navy officers, and they have money and donated it. By December, we had enough clothes to sell (for the semester). We didn’t have Fantastique, we had four walls. We had to get stuff. The teachers and myself were recruiting and collecting stuff and we got it,” LaMuraglia said.
LaMuraglia told donors everything was going to students and she wouldn’t profit off anything sold. “… And the people who donated, we told them what they were doing. It’s going to students in need. We promise that we won’t make this into a money-making invention.”
Brady elaborated on what the students learn while interning in the store: “(Students learn) customer service skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving; there’s purchasing, inventory control. We’ve had a lot of students as a result of this get jobs because students have those required skills.”
Jhon-Vincent Malasig has been a student in the business program for one year. He and several other students intern in the boutique. He explained daily duties the interns have: “We iron, we rearrange the clothes, we put them in the circulation, we sell them to anyone who wants to buy clothes.”
Every Wednesday, Fantastique sells casual clothing in the AH/BT quad for $1 or $2 each.
This semester, the employee agency Manpower visited City College twice to recruit students for work. The interns in Fantatique assisted students with clothing for the interviews Manpower conducted. If students needed grooming, they were sent to Cosmetology.
“We helped (students) with a free outfit. If they were not dressed properly, we suggested you go to the store for clothes,” student intern Maria Gutierrez said.
LaMuraglia emphasized that although Fantastique stretches its hand out to a few students, she wishes to do more for students in time.
“Our (college) president is really big on social justice, and this is our way to say we are part of it, too. Social justice can be defined in many different ways. The reality of it is social justice is the little things,” she said. “I wish I could do all the big things but I’m not there yet. So we have to start with the little things: food, clothing.”
Fantastique is open Monday through Thursday, and will be open during summer classes.