Can the Corporate World Do good?

This summer I had the pleasure of hosting my first corporate swap with an organization called ISEP (International Study Abroad Program) in D.C.. I was an intern at ISEP and the idea to have a swap at an office came from a conversation with a coworker. Somehow, talking to her about my hobbies lead to me telling her about how I use fashion to uplift individuals from low-income backgrounds through my nonprofit Style Lottery. It turns out that I’m so passionate about fashion sustainability and philanthropy that I talk about it all the time without realizing it!

I have hosted more than a dozen swaps, but this was my first time introducing it to the work world. By corporate swaps, I mean hosting a Style Lottery style closet swap I set up the swapping space at an office or corporate building. For ISEP’s swap , I organized a conference room at the office around noon and left the door open for the entire office to either donate their lightly used items and/or swap. At the end of the day, I stopped by to see the number of donations left on the table:

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Items donated by ISEP staff

I noticed that this group was a little different from other groups I had previously hosted closet swaps for. The ISEP staff participated in mostly giving and did little taking in exchange. Several people thanked me for hosting this event at the office and for selecting a charity to where remaining clothes will go. I picked Martha’s Table, a local D.C. nonprofit organization, as our charity for this particular swap because of its direct benefit to people in the community. The organization offers a variety of services for low-income individuals, for example:

Martha’s Outfitters also offers a free clothing distribution program to clients referred by one of the 100 agency partners throughout the Washington, DC area, allowing them access to free casual and work clothing, interview attire, housewares, and linens.
One of my favorite aspects about swaps is the giving back part. I enjoy partnering with organizations that have made a  commitment to walk alongside people in the community. These organizations support community members in their time of need and help them get back on their feet. With corporate swaps, businesses and large corporations can join the business of doing good quite easily. That afternoon, after the swap, I took two boxes of donations to Martha’s Table with a new sense of fulfillment. I have the privilege of being the middle (wo)man between these nonprofit organizations and the corporate world. Simply donating the excess in your closet can make a world of difference in the lives of people you may never personally meet.

Special thanks to ISEP for letting me bring the closet swap experience to the office. Every office and corporate staff is unique and has different social causes they are passionate about. I keep this in mind with every swap that we plan with Style Lottery. I plan to work with both the corporate world and nonprofits one day, and when I do, I hope I encounter great companies like ISEP that have the courage to embrace new ways to address social ills in our world.

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Click here to read more about how Style Lottery uses fashion to impact the lives of women. Or watch one of our closet swaps in action here.

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