Not often do we connect fashion with education but in this blog post, you will find out how these two things can be connected – and how it’s improving lives for those in need! I come from a country where education is free and despite social aspects etc. at least people have an equal right to education if they wish to pursue it. That I’m thankful for but let’s not forget that in some countries education is a privilige and whether it’s a third world country or not, every aspect that might help in one way or another, I think is worth celebrating – therefore, I feel honoured to be able to let you all know about The Fashion Foundation out of New York.
1) Tell us briefly what The Fashion Foundation is and what the core of what you do is?
The Fashion Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization (meaning “has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt, charitable organization”) that serves as a platform for the fashion industry to donate samples and merchandise they no longer need. By using that merchandise to raise money on our online store, New York showroom, fundraisers and donations, we provide underprivileged students in New York with educational tools.
2) How did you come up with the idea?
I started The Fashion Foundation when I was 23 years old in 2013. I was in the fashion industry and constantly saw brands with samples that they didn’t know what to do with so I thought to start a charity that would make it easy for the fashion industry to donate to. I didn’t start this organization thinking about sustainable fashion or helping children, I simply saw a problem in the fashion industry and wanted to change it and put samples to good use.
3) How do you actually help students in practical terms? What’s the process from someone donating to you or buying from your site to a student who actually benefits from your amazing initiative?
When someone donates a product we either sell it on our online shop, in person at our showroom or use them for auction items.
For the education side, we work directly with elementary, middle and high schools in New York. We never hand a school a check, we actually work with the staff to figure out what their students need to succeed in school and then send those exact supplies to them so we know our efforts are going right into the student’s hands. So when you shop on our site, you are directly benefiting a student because those funds help us provide these tools to students.
We donate anything a student needs – clean uniforms, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, art supplies, gym equipment and more. We’ve impacted over 7,000 students in the New York area. We recently helped build a school library in Brooklyn and put over $10,000 worth of brand new books into this library for kids to have access to books.
4) Can people from all over the world help by donating products, or would it be better to donate money in some cases?
We accept product donations from all over thew world as long as the company can cover shipping to us (startup charity life!) or we are happy to pick up donations from companies in the New York area. We do ship orders from our website all over the world and sometimes it’s easier and more cost effective for someone to just make a monetary donation on our site with their credit card or through PayPal. We’re a small non-profit organization so any donation amount big or small truly helps us!!
5) Where do you see The Fashion Foundation in 5 years’ time and what role do you play?
I see The Fashion Foundation being the “go to” charity for the fashion industry to donate products to. There is always going to be samples left over so if we can get more designers and brands to support us, this organization can grow tremendously. This is my baby, I built it from the ground up with nothing and I can’t wait to grow with it.
Wow, I must admit that in a world of fast fashion and with a focus on child labour and ethical processes, this is such an enlightening initiative and what a great idea – a business with meaning which truly can make a difference for a child’s education and life. Check The Fashion Foundation’s website here, where you can also read more about donations if you are interested. Or if you want to read about when the business was featured in The New York Times, click here.
Mathilde Bach Stougaard is the Founder and Creative Director of FID.