The Vanity Project designs clothing to share and support what some of the most innovative NYC nonprofits are accomplishing. They donate 51% of their net profits to the nonprofit represented on each piece of clothing.
Story Pirates is taking youth development by storm: They organize youth education opportunities for inner city kids in New York and L.A. through creative writing workshops and performance opportunities.
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This week at Designed Good, we are lucky to be featuring a brand with a full story we can trace from beginning to end. The Vanity Project defines transparency: They were conceived for reasons we can relate to, and they are committed to partnerships and principles they can spell out clearly. This week, we caught up with Jon Goldmann from The Vanity Project, an initiative that is making the things you want to wear – T-shirts and sweatshirts – into tools for making a real difference. “We want to create conversations around the clothing,” Jon told us.
Indeed, The Vanity Project itself grew out of conversations that Jon remembers with his friends Omri and Jason, who founded The Vanity Project while they were at Northwestern University. When Jason’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, he struggled with feeling powerless, since her recovery was not in his control. He and Omri began doing more volunteer work in the Chicago area.
With exposure to nonprofits and charities, he realized how strapped they were for time and resources – they needed help with outreach and branding, and the T-shirts that were supposed to accomplish this were often the forgotten-in-the-laundry-basket variety.
They launched The Vanity Project a year ago to help more people make a real impact by wearing something they’d be excited to pull from their closet hangers.
They have teamed up with about 30 small and medium-sized nonprofits to design and sell clothing that captures their mission – while also supporting them financially. The Vanity Project donates 51% of their net profits – again, a transparent specific we can latch on to – to the cause that inspired that specific piece of clothing.
We admire the set of criteria that guides The Vanity Project towards their nonprofit partners. Jon described their process for connecting with leaders of charities as such: “Are these the type of people we’d want to sit down and have a beer with?”
But his statement is less about discovering whether they’re PBR-bound or strictly Guinness fans. Rather, they’re interested in identifying charities that they have a real ideological connection with and who are committed to their own success.
They have big ideas about conscious consumerism at every level and want to bring the nonprofit community together. “We want to be a thought leader in the space,” Jon said.
And we’re excited because at the end of the day, The Vanity Project is not just interested in how people look outwardly at the world around them, but also how people think about themselves. That’s the origin of their business’s name: The idea of looking in the mirror and deciding if you are representing your values with what you wear – whether you #WearReal.