Fashioning a culture of giving

Boston Startup models Couture for a Cause, collaborates with BUILD

fpFashion Project, a Boston­- based start­up, truly lives their slogan, “Fashion as a Force for Good”. For them, it’s a simple, effective and sustainable baseline from which their social­ enterprise is built. It permeates every aspect of their culture, externally in their nonprofit partnerships and internally, with its staff and founders Christine Rizk and Anna Palmer. This philanthropic orientation positions Fashion Project at the vanguard of a new trend within the state’s thriving innovation community: Giving back.

BUILD has long benefited from its relationship with Fashion Project: It enjoys status as a premier listing on the Fashion Project marketplace. Now, BUILD is further exploring mutual interest and extending mentorship opportunities with Fashion Project’s team of young, hip and impactful creatives.

[Also check out Sara Castellanos’ article in the Boston Business Journal  Fashion Project: $4M in funding raised, 150+ charities supported so far]

Fashion Project is poised for significant growth, having recently entered into relationships with major, international retailers and fashion houses, celebrities and designers. Yet, they made time for an ‘all hands on deck’ Call­ to ­Service, affording BUILD Boston’s Executive Director, Ayele Shakur, one of the most valuable commodities in the start­up ecosystem: Time. At the behest of Christine and Anna, Ayele presented the BUILD story to the Fashion Project staff and, instead of the expected ‘ask’ of a donation, gave the young and talented crowd opportunities to get involved by mentoring the Boston high school students whom BUILD serves with its entrepreneurship program.

A standout among the rising tide of social impact start­ups foregoing non­profit status, Fashion Project is a social enterprise that’s revolutionizing the fashion world via consignment and thrift. They specialize in a new paradigm of ‘re­commerce’ ­ accepting haut couture donations, hand selecting and cataloging each individual piece, and reselling them on their online marketplace. By simply accepting and curating donated couture, they are able to amplify its value, sell on the Fashion Project marketplace at higher than thrift prices, and give 60% of the funds to charity.

So, that Louis Vuitton you gave to Goodwill? Instead of it being sold for $20 and ending up in the dress up bin, it gets featured and resold for, say $140, and 60% ($84) of the profits are sent directly to a nonprofit of your choice. Plus, the donation is tax-deductible.

And, BUILD is not only a featured charity of Fashion Projects’. We are the first!

How did all this come about? Mentorship. During her days at Harvard Law School, CEO/ Co­Founder Anna Palmer helped start the groundswell that has become BUILD Boston, as an intern. She has since graduated from Harvard, where she met co­founder, Christine Rizk and together they encourage their employees to give what they can via mentorship.

Moving forward, Christine and the Fashion Project team promise that charities like BUILD will be featured even more heavily as they engage new initiatives and collaborations. With “My Fashion Projects”, donors are re­cast as fundraisers with the ability to more actively engage family, friends and colleagues to aggregate donations towards the originator’s causes of interest. Fashion Project pioneers the social impact movement as an example to investors and venture capitalists wary of commingling philanthropy and enterprise.

BUILD is immensely grateful to Fashion Project for their time, consideration and benevolent efforts. If you would like to mentor a student, host a clothing drive, become a listed organization with Fashion Project, or just want to help make Fashion As A Force For Good, visit Fashion Project or email [email protected].

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