Style Lottery turns Hall of Languages into walk-in closet for the afternoon

Style Lottery, a philanthropic fashion event, gives shoppers an opportunity to swap five old items of clothing for "new" wardrobe items from the closets of other attendees.

Justin Timberlake filled the room. Garments and accessories covered the surface of tables, except for the one offering Cold Stone Creamery “Milkshakers,” fortune cookies, and frisbees. Free-standing racks held dresses, blouses, outerwear and classic T-shirts. Timi Komonibo and her team successfully transformed room 202 in the Hall of Languages into a walk-in closet on Friday afternoon.

Photo: Brittany Fowler
“I like the social aspect,” Komonibo said. “All the women in the room have most likely never met before…it’s a very social thing."

Komonibo is the founder of Style Lottery, a nonprofit organization focused around swapping and donating clothes. The organization's mission is to “restyle, reuse and reward." With help from Alexis Morris, Director of Strategic Management, Nieves Alvarez, Strategic Communications Coordinator, and Jennifer Osias, Director of Campus Relations, Style Lottery creates a unique shopping experience with a philanthropic backbone. Throughout the event, Komonibo stood by the doorway greeting everyone who walked in with donations. 

“I like the social aspect,” Komonibo said. “All the women in the room have most likely never met before…it’s a very social thing."

People bring between 4-5 items to donate, and then they’re free to swap. Once the event ends, Style Lottery donates to different nonprofits and charities. For this event, they are working with the Rescue Mission’s thrift store in Marshall Square Mall, 3Fifteen, and Hope Print, a Syracuse organization that works with refugee populations. The remaining clothes also go to the Style Lottery closet. Komonibo explained that community members nominate individuals who are in need of clothes, which provides women with free shopping sprees in the closet built through donations. So far, Style Lottery has had between 5-10 style lotteries.

“I’m just trying to do as much good as I can while I’m here,” Komonibo explained.

Pandora Radio continued to play while shoppers searched through the racks. From J.Crew structured jackets to polka-dot pumps, Style Lottery offered a variety of styles. Two full-length mirrors stood on each side of the room, where shoppers checked themselves out in their new clothes.

“I’m glad to see people are doing something like this,” Whitney Marin, Syracuse University student, said. “I got rid of some stuff that was clogging up my closet, and I got some new things that can also clog up my closet,” Marin’s friend and fellow Syracuse University student Danielle Roth, said. 

Komonibo and her team interacted with shoppers and each other throughout the entire event. They offered their opinions, joked around with each other, and did some swapping themselves.

“I always try to watch, maybe because it’s like my baby, so I want to make sure everything is going well before I start swapping,” Komonibo said. “But I see some fun things I can pick up whenever I start swapping.”

Once the last shopper left, Pharrell Willams’ “Happy” blared through the speakers, and the team broke out into a dance party. Komonibo danced through the racks in her cream lace dress belted with a deep emerald skinny belt, paired with a blush blazer and violet tights. She not only exposed her love for fashion, but also her free spirit and personality. 

“I would like to inspire people to think about sustainability and fashion philanthropy in a different way,” she said. 
The last beat faded as Komonibo and what she describes as her team of strong, smart women began to strip the racks until their next swap. 

“That’s one of my favorite parts [of Style Lottery], meeting new people and introducing them to swapping,” Komonibo said.



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