Around here, we’re endlessly fascinated by the wide world of online shopping, and it seems that every week brings with it a brand-new e-commerce site to be obsessed with. Since keeping track of ‘em all can be a feat of epic proportion, we’ve decided to feature “A Site To See” each week, highlighting a cool retail website you’ll definitely want to bookmark. This week: a site called Fashion Project, which sells designer pieces at a fraction of their retail cost, and donates much of the proceeds to a charity of your choice.
What It Is: Fashion Project launched in November 2012 with two main goals in mind: to re-introduce value into clothes that are donated for charity, and to allow the average person to donate clothes to any charity they choose. Co-founders Anna Palmer and Christine Rizk set up the site with a really unique model that’s a great alternative to taking clothes to a Goodwill or Salvation Army: both accept and re-sell donations.
“We both were involved in non-profits, so we knew how hard it was to fundraise,” Anna tells StyleCaster. “Most stuff donated isn’t sold at its true value, so we thought we could just raise money through selling clothing instead of just asking people to write checks.”
“We had this eye-opening moment, we were in this local thrift store and saw a Prada jacket mixed in with these other pieces of cothing,” Christine says. “We realized that that jacket was going to be sold for $5, or we could take it and put it online and raise so much more money for charity.”
How It Works: Fashion Project is unique because it’s essentially a destination where you can kill two birds with one stone: you can both donate your clothing and accessories for charity, and you can shop other people’s donations. And the whole process is completely free, and super easy.
“The process is really simple. You go on the site and give us your name and address, and we will send you a free pre-paid donation packet to your house,” Christine explains. “You get to choose any charity of your choice. We have a whole list of featured non-profit partners, or you can add your own. The donation packet will show up at your doorstep, and you just leave it outside for your mailman. We collect the items, process them, and you’ll be getting email alerts all along the way, when they go up, when they sell, you get your receipt.”
Fashion Project donates 55% of the proceeds from every single item on the site to the charity you, the donater, selects. The rest of the 45% goes toward keeping the site open and operational.
“One of the things that’s really special about our site, you can see the chairtable impact of every item, you can see how much for each product goes to charity,” Anna says. “The amount of impact you can have through shoppiung is pretty amazing.”
Extra Good: Fashion Project has an in-house team that determines whether donated goods are high-quality enough to list for sale on the site; if they don’t make the cut, they’re still put to good use.
“We have other buyers off-site, consignment buyers that we know will be a better fit for some pieces,” Christine explains. “We filter things to make sure we’re putting them into the channel on which they will sell for the most money. If for some reason we can’t sell something, we donate it to one of our thrift store partners, so it’s always going back to charity one way or another.”
The Story of the Name: “The initial idea behind that name was that we really wanted to change the way people thought about donating, where each person has their own individual fashion project,” Anna says. “So if I’m donating to Parkinsons’ research, it’s like my own little fashion project.”
Bonus Feature: Fashion Project has a partnership going right now with Nordstrom: if you donate just five pieces to the site, you get a free $40 gift card to Nordstrom. While the social causes are obviously the main motivating factor, we’ll never turn our noes up at free goodies.
Check it out: FashionProject.com