How fast is Fashion Project growing? When I stopped by last week, CEO Anna Palmer told me there were two possible venues for our interview: a makeshift conference room created by cardboard boxes and heaps of plastic bags, or the staircase between the two floors of the company’s Fort Point Channel offices. (We picked the former.) The startup collects designer women’s apparel and accessories from non-profits and individuals, and resells it on its own site or through a network of partners. Fifty-five percent of the proceeds go to charity, but donors can take a tax deduction for the full sale price of the item.
Palmer says that about 2,000 items are being donated daily, and that Fashion Project is adding contract workers to sort and catalogue everything coming in. The startup has 17 employees, but it is adding about 18 additional contractors this week, according to Palmer. “We’re running tons of extra shifts on nights and weekends,” she says.
Right now, all of the donation processing happens at Fashion Project’s Boston headquarters. That includes photographing some of the higher-value items on mannequins. But Palmer says she’s close to signing a lease for a 30,000-square foot warehouse that will handle item intake and photography, starting this summer. Several new partnerships are also in the works with retailers that will help Fashion Project collect even more apparel and accessories, and Palmer says “the inventory we’re getting now is just a drop in the bucket. It’ll get multiplied by 10 or 20 times this year.” (About 20 percent of the incoming merch is sold on Fashion Project’s site; the remaining 80 percent goes to consignment stores in Boston and around the country.)
Palmer says that Fashion Project has raised about $4.6 million from investors so far, but a new funding round is in the works. Fashion Project is also planning an in-person sale this Thursday evening, May 1st, at its Boston office. It runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 326 A Street, next to Blue Dragon, and it’s open to the public. It will include women’s apparel, accessories, and shoes, Palmer says, as well as “select men’s items.”
I covered Fashion Project when it launched in 2012, and again in a March 2014 column about marketplace businesses. BetaBoston’s Dennis Keohane wrote about a promotional partnership with Nordstrom last month.
Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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