Everyone comes to crossroads throughout their lives. Crossroads are inevitable. Whether it’s choosing what to have for dinner or what career you want to pursue. You can play it safe and order pizza or go wild and try a new, complicated recipe. You can choose a career in fashion or decide to start a nonprofit.
That is exactly the crossroads Amanda Munz ran into (the career one, not dinner). After spending years interning with various fashion designers, one day Amanda realized she needed to do more. She wanted to inspire people, help those in need, and make a difference. Combining her knowledge of fashion and her desire to make an impact, she created the Fashion Foundation and started her mission to help students in need.
The Fashion Foundation is an online store that sells donated new and gently used clothes, shoes, and accessories. The money that is raised through sales helps purchase various school supplies for students and schools that can’t afford them.
I had the opportunity to ask Amanda some questions about her nonprofit, how she got started, and what inspires her. Her story is inspiring and she gives great advice.
How did you come up with the idea for the Fashion Foundation? What inspired you?
I was interning at one of the top designers in the world, and one day I had to throw out boxes of shoes, right into the dumpster. I thought “there has to be something we can do with all these shoes instead of throwing them out”. Months before graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I decided to turn down the job offers I received and start a nonprofit that could eliminate fashion waste and enhance education.
One problem with my new found idea… what if I can’t get designers to donate their samples they don’t want? So I thought, everyone always has an item in their closet they don’t wear. What if I can get individuals to clean out their closets and donate their unwanted clothing to us. After months of brainstorming, the vision of The Fashion Foundation started to come together to have designers, individuals and people who don’t even care about fashion, come together and support education.
We had a ton of individuals clean out their closets for us, and now designers are starting to get involved. We had jewelry designer, Jacqueline Rose, donate 11 pieces from one of her collections, which was really exciting for us.
Has education always been a cause you’ve been passionate about?
Yes, I personally loved school when I got older, not so much as a kid though. I don’t think kids realize how important education is.
When we were partnering with our first school I asked their Assistant Principal “What do your students need?”. I was expecting them to say ipads, computers, or new technology systems. She responded, “Art supplies”. Their students didn’t have access to basic art supplies like glue, markers, paint, paper and more, because their budget was so tight. It’s crazy to think that some students don’t have basic education necessities that some of us take for granted.
What has been the hardest part of starting your own nonprofit?
Spreading the word about The Fashion Foundation. When people hear about us, they love the concept. What’s better than shopping for a new outfit that actually provides school supplies to students? It’s hard to reach a broad audience that isn’t connected to our friends, family, friends of friends, coworkers, etc.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give other aspiring nonprofit starters that you wish you knew when you started?
Honestly, don’t be afraid to google a question you don’t know the answer to. Everyone does it, but no one admits it. There were times I didn’t know the answer to a question, and I spent time researching on google. 99% of the time, you’ll find the answer you were looking for, and if you don’t, there’s always someone you can find that knows the answer.
And don’t underestimate the power of networking. Making strong connections with people is essential to growing. People are always saying “You should talk to my … “, people really want to help connect you to others.
What has been your favorite moment since starting The Fashion Foundation?
At our first school partnership, we donated $1,500 worth of art supplies to PS 325 in Harlem, NY. We got to spend a day with their students to see all the artwork they created with our donation. A few weeks later I went back to PS 325 for their Field Day, and a handful of students ran up to me and hugged me because they remembered me from my last visit. In that moment, I knew I made the right decision to start The Fashion Foundation, because our donation brightened these student’s school days.
On top of the interview, Amanda has put together some snazzy outfits using clothes that are currently available on the Fashion Foundation website.
Dolce & Gabbana Top ($975.00) $98.00 / Forever 21 Faux Leather Skirt ($15.00) $5.00 / Unknown Black Booties ($25.00) $6.00 / Jacqueline Rose Earrings ($18.00) $12.00 / Unknown Black Clutch ($20.00) $10.00
See anything you like? Get it quickly because there’s only one of each item and once it’s gone, its gone for good.