YAKIMA, Wash. — With fall quarter classes at Yakima Valley College beginning in a few weeks, Alen Janisch has spent a little more time on campus lately.
There are slacks to press and ties to straighten, jackets to steam and shoes to arrange. Classes begin Sept. 24, and Rodeo Drive will reopen for business soon.
In the school’s Skills Center, Rodeo Drive is the creation of the ever-dapper Janisch, a college and career readiness instructor who helps students dress professionally for job interviews and other important meetings.
With his eye for style — Janisch wears three-piece suits, often with dress shirts boasting French cuffs and cuff links — and knowledge of resale shops with high-quality clothing, he stocks Rodeo Drive with an enviable array of clothing and accessories available at no cost.
Open during the fall quarter from 1 to 5 p.m. every Thursday, it features business casual and professional attire in sizes up to 3X.
Janisch reported that Rodeo Drive’s first year was a success.
“More than 550 students have acquired professional clothing this first year,” he said in an email sent to several people. “We have given out over $15,000 worth of brand new clothing, price tags still attached, and thousands of dollars’ worth of gently used items.”
Donations from others with an eye for style add to Rodeo Drive’s offerings.
“Products that we have given out include big brand names such as Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Faconnable, Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, Givinchy, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and more.”
And he’s starting the new school year with even more inventory.
Rodeo Drive just received a donation from The Plaid Door — a consignment and thrift store operated by St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and other volunteers — of 25 Nordstrom suits and blazers, Janisch said.
And he recently got a blazer by Ermenegildo Zegna, which is Rodeo Drive’s most expensive item ever,
“This blazer retails for $2,495 and is listed as one of the 10 most expensive brands,” he said.
Carrmela Guardado was among 11 students receiving certificates in the I-Best Business Technology graduation Wednesday. Most of the students wore clothing from Rodeo Drive; Guardado had a burgundy crepe dress with matching shawl.
“It’s long. ... That was good with me because I felt like a princess. I was on top of the world,” said Guardado, who gave an emotional speech during ceremonies in the Parker Room of Deccio Hall.
While volunteering at Rodeo Drive off and on in the past two quarters, Guardado saw the dress. She tried it on and it fit.
“He said I could have the dress. He said it was a perfect gown for graduation,” she said.
She also liked the burgundy, which is one of YVC’s colors.
“I decided to go for burgundy to represent the school. Whether they know it or not, they helped out a lot,” she said. “In the last six months there was a handful of times I wanted to quit. I stuck with the program.”
Her education will continue. She plans to earn a second certificate, which will take six months. After that she hopes to earn a degree in Spanish and become an interpreter, teacher or attorney.
Rodeo Drive has made a difference for Guardado, who said she is grateful for Janisch and his creation.
“Honestly, I don’t have words to describe how I feel,” she said. “I get speechless because it’s great that he does that.”