The Fashion Foundation Does Good for New York Schools
We caught up with Amanda Munz, Founder of The Fashion Foundation, at REMODE this past month in Los Angeles. Check out the interview below to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved.
Tell us about The Fashion Foundation.
The Fashion Foundation gets designers to donate excess inventory and samples that they don’t need anymore. We put them on our online store, in our showroom, and any way we can raise money with these samples. We use those funds to provide school supplies to local students in need; all local underprivileged kids in New York right in the backyard of the fashion industry.
When did you start the organization?
I launched it in 2013 but it took a few months to actually get into the swing of things, so it’s been four or five years. I feel like the first two years I hustled, made my connections, built up from the ground up, and now the last few years, it’s just like everything is kind of falling into place. These last two years really have been game-changers.
Where did the idea come from?
I was in the fashion industry and I just constantly saw these samples piling up in showrooms and nobody knew what to do with them; they were just taking up space. We would have sample sales, and give away to friends and family, but at the end of the day, there’s always samples left over. A lot of times they’re either sitting in a warehouse, or a showroom, or they end up in the garbage. When I saw this problem, and it’s not just one company, it’s really industry-wide, no one knows what to do with the samples. So I decided “okay, how do I get designers to donate those pieces and put them to a good cause?” That’s really where the whole idea came from.
What was one of your success moments where you realized that you truly had something special?
Honestly, it's when I get every single designer donation from any company, any designer. Every time I get a new designer, it makes me feel like, “wow, they believe in me and The Fashion Foundation and our mission enough to donate those samples to us.” It never gets old; if it’s 5 pieces, 100 pieces, 10,000 pieces, every single time it’s a reminder that we’re doing what we should be doing and it’s working.
How have New York City area schools benefited and is there a specific success story you want to share?
The Fashion Foundation works with about 15 schools throughout New York in all the boroughs. We work with elementary to high school kids and each school is very different. We never hand a school a check for the amount. It’s something I stand behind from day one. We actually sit with their staff to figure out what their kids need and we get that for them. Each school is asking us for different things whether it’s clean uniforms or art supplies or sports equipment. We then buy those supplies and give them to the schools so we know exactly where our money is going. The schools are so grateful and each student is so grateful that it’s almost like every single time we go it’s a success story. You can hand a kid a pencil and a notebook and their face lights up.
Our biggest accomplishment so far has been an elementary school in Brooklyn who received a grant to build a new library because they never had a library in their school. They built the library, but then it had no books in it, literally had zero books. We stepped in and provided them with about $10,000 worth of books. It was over 800 brand new books all hand selected by the librarian so it was exactly what those kids needed. To take a step back and walk into this room to now see a full library because of what we’ve done with the support of the fashion industry, that’s a big success story and that’s going to be there for decades to come.
What are the goals for the future of The Fashion Foundation?
The biggest thing is getting more brands and more designers to know about us because it’s such an easy fix for everybody. Everybody has samples. So if I can get these brands to say “You know what, I have a couple samples lying around or I have a closet filled with samples to donate,” that then helps fund our mission and our students. It doesn’t cost the brands really anything; they have the product, they’ve made it already, don’t know what to do with it and it’s a tax write-off. The more people that know about us, the more brands that support us, the more credibility it gives us and really that’s my biggest thing is getting designers to donate products and support us.
Rebecca Minkoff and Calvin Klein actually took it one step further and brought their staff to schools with us in Brooklyn and the Bronx so they kind of got to see what it’s about. If I could get more companies to donate pieces and then come see what they’ve actually done by hanging out with the kids for the day, I feel like "Why not? Why shouldn't more companies support it?"
The samples lying around your showroom floor could be used to bring smiles to student's faces around New York. Samples help fund our mission to provide school supplies to local underprivileged students.
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