Back in March, I was catching up on the InStyle news section of their website. I read a short post about two entrepreneurs who had founded a website called the Fashion Project back in November 2012, and it looked as though InStyle had been promoting them regularly over the past year plus. What piqued my interest was the fact that the two founders are female and Harvard Law graduates. Their names are Christine Rizk and Anna Palmer, about my age, and while in law school they realized that although some people can write checks for charity, maybe it would be easier for many others to donate clothing and accessories instead. The net worth of the items donated to charity in the United States is much higher than you'd expect!
Essentially the Fashion Project boils down to being the perfect website for me. Let me elaborate - about once a year I will go through my closet and sort my items into 4 piles: keep, store, donate, repair. Repair is obviously made up of items that go to my tailor or cobbler. The store pile gets moved into a different bedroom (I do this seasonally, but sometimes in Virginia it seems like the seasons run into one another!). The keep stuff will be reorganized and placed back in the closet to be worn with the current season. However, the donate pile is the biggest pile each time. Particularly this year, when I had about 200 items of clothing or accessories that were from before my weight loss or from my college years (Itty bitty miniskirts! Way too casual tops for work!). The pile kept getting bigger and bigger that I thought, 'hmm, how about I sort them into consignment-friendly brands and then a separate pile for Goodwill.'
That was still easier said than done, as many consignment stores don't want J.Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Free People, etc. unless they are less than two years old (if at all). That is where the Fashion Project website came into play. I went on the website, saw that many of my 'not fancy but nicer than $3 worth' clothes could be sent to them and asked for a free donation bag. My first two bags arrived within days, and I requested that those items go toward the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. I still had a big pile of nicer clothes/accessories to donate, so I requested another two bags to be donated to Autism Speaks. The bags are USPS prepaid labeled bags, so I just had to fill them up, close them (reinforced with packing tape), and wait about a month to 6 weeks to get an email from them that the items were processed. Thankfully, you get tracking numbers when you turn in the bags to the USPS counter, so I knew they had arrived fine.
One full bag of the four I have donated has hit the showroom, and I know more will continue to be processed. To break it down money-wise, a $90 J.Crew dress from 4 years ago is listed for 79% off. 55% of that purchase will go directly to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. It is still more than the garment would get going to Goodwill, so charity is charity in my mind and that makes me incredibly happy. Eventually, I'll get a tax receipt for my tax filing, so again, I get to account for these gifts in that way as well. Many people are still learning about the service, so there is a delay due to the volume of donations. I don't really care - it isn't in my house anymore taking up space and the items will eventually hit the 'showroom.' They check the clothes for cleanliness, repairs needed, give them their own mini photoshoot and place them online. That has to be a long process.
The tagline for the company is "Fashion as a force for good." I feel great knowing that thanks to Fashion Project, we all end up winners. Over this past weekend, I got $320 in Nordstrom gift cards, my items will eventually sell through the Fashion Project website raising money for two charities that I have personal ties to, and I still have a huge pile of clothes to send to Goodwill. The promotion I participated in is featured in the YouTube video above - 5 items donated equal a $40 Nordstrom gift card. That is already 40 items I have donated! I cannot wait to donate to Fashion Project again. I hope you all will look into this business, I highly recommend it!