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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.

Style Lottery #1

I’m excited to announce that today we had the opportunity to give our first Style Lottery to five beautiful women from the Exodus House. These ladies were headed to a dinner tonight so we have the privilege of styling their outfits and helping them get ready .

We had been given their sizes earlier so were able to pick out dresses for them beforehand. Some of them were a hit and a perfect fit and others required a replacement or a second look.

My favorite part of the whole day was taking the ladies to the attic to let them shop from the Style Lottery closet.

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I was overwhelmed with happiness when I saw them going through the racks with gusto and unbridled excitement.  It was so wonderful to see that something as simple as a shopping spree could put a smile on someone’s face. We love our happy customers!StyleLottery#1 2432x3648 StyleLottery#1 2432x3648-004 StyleLottery#1 2432x3648-003 StyleLottery#1 2432x3648-002 StyleLottery#1 2432x3648-001

After they picked out their clothes and got dressed, we sent them to hair and makeup. Our volunteer, Jen (a fellow Syracuse grad student), applied makeup and gave the ladies a natural makeup look.

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During this first Style Lottery, we discovered just how much clothing can contribute to how we feel about ourselves. Our biggest success of the evening was with Sam. Sam is a beautiful girl with a great curvy shape. Jen and I went through dozens of outfits, but none of them were really her. With the help of one the ladies, we found this gray blazer and paired it with a top from the Style Lottery closet. She wore her own pants and boots. She loved the outfit and rocked the look to the dinner. We could see the look of relief and confidence she wore along with her outfit. We knew we’d made the right choice. She looked, on the outside, the way she felt on the inside– like a beautiful, confident young woman. StyleLottery#1 2432x3648-006

And this is why we’re doing what we’re doing. We want to make more women like Sam smile. She deserves to be pampered and to look nice and we’re here to help.

Special thanks to the women who attended the December Clothes Swap. Without them, this first Style Lottery would not have been possible.

Special thanks to Exodus 3 Ministries for nominating these women to win a Style Lottery.

If you know a woman who would enjoy a Style Lottery, you can nominate her here. Our next Lottery will be after Spring Break 2014. Our goal is to give away at least 15 Lotteries. Spread the word.