Giving Back in Style
Fashion Project team (from left): Anna Palmer: CEO (co-founder), Joe Terry: CTO, Michelle McCormack: CMO, Chris Jackson: Web Developer, Christine Rizk: COO (co-founder), with their good luck mannequin mascot, who will be at the launch party tonight at CafeTeria.
Rows of high shelves in a warehouse space north of Boston are filling rapidly with gently-worn, designer clothes: stacks of women’s suits, handbags, and shoes, some with the original tags reading Armani, Dior, Gucci and Burberry. The total inventory tallied to something like $17,000 last week; by this week it has nearly doubled.
Now imagine these shelves of couture turned into cash that goes directly to charity.
That is exactly what’s happening thanks to Boston-based start-up and online consignment shop, Fashion Project, whose local launch party is tonight.
“Consignment shopping is becoming really popular online and a lot of people want to give to charity, but a lot of charities don’t take anything but cash,” explains Michelle McCormack, the Chief Marketing Officer recruited for Fashion Project after producing the popular Fashion’s Night Out in Boston and running digital social zine Secret Boston.
“If people are able to give non-cash donations of high-priced items like Chanel, they can just donate them to us and know that the majority of the proceeds will go directly to the charity of their choice.”
Fashion Project is the brainchild of Anna Palmer and Christine Rizk, who met at Harvard Law and graduated in 2011. Anna realized that there were so many people who donated clothing to places like Morgan Memorial (Goodwill Mass), and it either just sat there or didn’t get as high of a value as it should when resold.
The model for Fashion Project is simple: they mail a bag with postage paid to donors who fill it up with designer clothes they don’t want anymore, choose a charity, and send it back. The products are then posted on Fashion Project’s website, Pinterest, and Facebook with the item name, the benefiting charity, and the price. When people buy the clothing online, 60% of the proceeds goes to charities, including Dress for Success (an international charity that helps women dress when they need to interview for jobs), The Greater Boston Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the AIDS Action Committee, and more. 40% goes to Fashion Project.
“And it’s nothing for a charity to sign up. They really don’t have to do anything at all,” McCormack says. “If they want to run a campaign, we’ll provide them with an email flash campaign, and they’ll send it to all of the donors on their email list, which drives people back to our website to donate. It’s awesome.”
Even organizations that have their own thrift stores like Morgan Memorial and Big Brothers Big Sisters have been donating clothes to Fashion Project, because their customers don’t expect to pay high prices in their stores, and some don’t have stores at all.
“People will spend more money on Fashion Project because it’s really well branded, everything is clean, and it’s sent out beautifully,” McCormack says.
Tonight at 6pm for Fashion Project’s Boston launch party at CafeTeria, they will hold an #IGaveFashionProjectTheShirtOffMyBack contest. Attendees should wear a designer shirt to take off and donate. I immediately ask Michelle if that means this will be a naked party where everyone is walking around with no shirts on.
“We’re giving them a t-shirt,” she answers, laughing. “That would be awesome though.”
“We only said shirt because it sounds good, but you can donate anything: a handbag, scarf, shirt, pants, whatever.”
But hey, a sweet Fashion Project tee plus a chance to win a $100 shopping spree on FashionProject.com, all in exchange for tweeting, Instagramming or Pinning a pic of you wearing your new tee sounds like a win-win situation for everyone. The winner will be announced Wednesday, the day after the launch.
Plus, participants get to have their pictures taken with Fashion Project’s good luck mannequin mascot. And having raised $200,000 already from angel investors to support their mission of making donating to charity fashionable, Fashion Project’s luck couldn’t be much better right now.
FASHION PROJECT LAUNCH PARTY
179 NEWBURY ST.
6PM/21+/FREE (WITH DONATION)
FASHION PROJECT HOSTS:
BOSTON (CHARITY) FASHION WEEK
MON 8.6.12-SUN 8.12.12