Suited for Good program provides suits for men in need

The Tom Nox store in Provo helps men in need. Tom Nox was introduced to help fund the Suited for Good program. (Ethan Porter)

Utah Woolen Mills Men’s Shop, a family-owned, premium clothing store based in Salt Lake City, began the Suited for Good program in 2016 with the intention of helping men in need.

The program is dedicated to empowering men with a tailored suit designed to help them find success in life, according to their official website.

“The original goal for the program was to put someone in a suit for every suit the company sold,” company president B.J. Stringham said.

Additionally, according to Stringham, since its inception in 2016, the program has helped outfit nearly 1,800 men in need.

Stringham said he wanted to start a foundation to help families in need after he had the opportunity to give away a suit at an auction for a victim of brain cancer. Stringham empathized with the victim, a mother of two children, because of his own role as a father of four.

“After the event, I was so excited, I felt like I could go up and hug anybody in the room even if I didn’t know them. I just felt like there was a lot of love in that room” Stringham said.

Following this experience, Stringham wanted to do more with the company. He called his dad and brother and formulated a plan that ended up becoming the Utah Woolen Mills Foundation which later paved the way for Suited for Good.

B.J. Stringham talks about how the Suited for Good program began as a way to help families in need. Stringham explains how the decision to to launch the Utah Woolen Mills Foundation helped pave the way for the Suited for Good program. (Ethan Porter)

Stringham said the idea for Suited for Good was not warmly received by the team when he and his family first brought up the program, due to the financial risks and because the well-known footwear company, Tom’s Shoes, was already utilizing a program where they give a pair of shoes to someone in need for every shoe sold.

“We decided to give it a year and give it a shot. We knew it could be a lot to take on, but we believed it aligned with our vision as a company,” Stringham said.

The program gave away 350 suits to men in need in their first year, out of their 650-suit goal.

Although the program found success in how many men it helped, Stringham believed the extreme focus on the number of people fitted was the wrong approach in finding the right candidates for the experience.

“This isn’t about volume or trying to give away a million suits. It’s about trying to change the lives of the people who this would positively affect,” Stringham said.

The company then decided to cut ties with a lot of the non-profit foundations it was working with at the time because its vision did not align with what Suited for Good was trying to accomplish.

“The other side academy and the food and care coalition are a select few of the partners we work with now,” Stringham said.

In March 2018, Utah Woolen Mills Men’s Shop introduced the Tom Nox Men’s Shop to provide a more affordable starting option for its customers and to help build the Suited for Good program by donating part of the proceeds from each suit sold.

According to Strignham, the Tom Nox Shop has allowed the Suited for Good program to branch out of Salt Lake City and expand to Utah County, with a new shop in Provo.

Stringham said the goals for the company in 2023 are to try and outfit one person a week in each of the three locations.

Jayce Komiya, an employee at the Tom Nox location in Provo, thinks the organization can do much more than just donate money like other charities.

“We have more to give than just the fabric — we can help the people and give our opinion,” Komiya said.

Sharon Jackson, manager of the Tom Knox Shop in Provo believes the most important aspect of Suited for Good is the opportunities these men are able to get from getting a new suit.

“Everyone says not to judge a book by its cover, but at the end of the day when you’re going into interviews and business conferences if you’re not dressed appropriately it’s going to affect the opportunities you are going to get,” Jackson said.

According to Stringham, about 90% of the people he contacted in the first year reported that their lives and their employment had benefitted from the experience.

Stringham believed the suits allowed the men to have the confidence to really be themselves and to take the opportunities they were given.

“We are so introspective as people, and we are really worried about how other people perceive us. When you have all those doubts about how you appear on the outside you have a really hard time being yourself and being able to be your best self. The suit creates this feeling that you are good enough,” Stringham said.

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