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The Fashion Foundation Turns Industry Waste Into School Supplies

Founded by Amanda Munz when she was just 23 years old, The Fashion Foundation has been featured in The New York Times, WWD, Mogul and more. Brands including Rebecca Minkoff, Zaful, Marchesa, LeSportsac, Stella & Ruby, Aerosoles, Cistar, Lafayette 148, and many others have donated over 30,000 pounds of excess merchandise to the non-profit to support its mission of helping kids in New York City. As a result of selling these unused samples — which otherwise would have contributed to the landfill — The Fashion Foundation has been able to benefit over 10,000 low income students in the last five years, largely by donating school supplies.

These days, The Fashion Foundation serves as a go-to charity in the fashion industry for brands to donate finished goods that they no longer need. Some people have described the organization as “scrappy.” Munz says, “We’re a small charity making a big difference. I have some help, but at the end of the day I’m the marketing department, shipping department, customer service, President, Founder, school supply delivery service and any other department you can think of.”

For its upcoming Mother’s Day Campaign, Gorjana donated 5,000 pieces of jewelry to The Fashion Foundation. For every piece of jewelry sold on its website this month, the non-profit has committed to providing a Mother’s Day care package to a mom and child currently residing in a homeless shelter. Each care package will include a piece of jewelry and a pack of crayons and paper so the children can make handmade cards.

The Fashion Foundation has had to pivot since the start of Covid-19 lockdowns a year ago because the non-profit had to close down its New York City showroom and shift focus to online business. Munz found an even bigger warehouse space on Long Island and moved to selling merchandise, virtual events, and even a digital magazine online. “I have definitely pivoted and refocused to survive and thrive in the midst of this pandemic,” she says. “Things have been crazy at The Fashion Foundation, but in a good way!”

Fortunately, brands and designers are supporting the Fashion Foundation now more than ever. It has received tens of thousands of pieces of merchandise, hair accessories, jewelry, clothes, and shoes from major brands over the past year. And business is booming because people are shopping, in greater than numbers than before, both online and with a mission.

Over the 2020 holiday season, the Fashion Foundation provided more than 1,200 children in shelters in New York with backpacks filled with holiday gifts, school supplies and warm winter essentials. “We’re seeing a big demand from our local communities for supplies to keep children off the streets and keep them occupied and busy during these tough times,” says Munz.

“I found my life purpose by throwing samples into the garbage,” says Munz. “You never know when and where you’ll find your purpose.” After following her childhood fashion for passion all the way to the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology, she found herself disillusioned by the industry. “For years, I witnessed the overproduction of samples. Those samples piled up in company showrooms until, as an intern, I had to throw perfectly fine goods into dumpsters.”

So, she decided to start a charity for fashion instead. “Every time I receive a donation of samples from a fashion brand, it pushes me forward because it means that my vision to reduce fashion waste is helping local kids in need,” Munz says.

“Don’t always listen to people’s advice,” Munz says to aspiring social entrepreneurs. “When I told my professor at FIT that I was going to start a charity in fashion and get designers to donate samples, he told me, ‘Just go work for another charity. You’ll never get a brand to give you their samples.’ Tens of thousands of samples later, I think I proved him wrong.”

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