What if you could put a shirt on someone else’s back by simply shopping for some clothes?
World Clothes Line, founded by Mallory Brown, has given people the option to give to those in need by simply buying the clothes sold on her website. Depending on the section you purchase from, you can help clothe people in Peru, Indonesia, or right here in the USA. Although her business is still young, the timing couldn’t be better.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Mallory a few questions about WCL, her inspiration for it, and where she sees it going.
Tell us a little about World Clothes Line.
World Clothes Line is an apparel company with a philanthropic mission: to clothe the world. We match every item purchased with a new item given to someone in need. Essentially, our clothes are “Buy 1, Give 1 Free.” Buy 1 for yourself. Give 1 to someone in need.
What inspired it?
I love to travel, and in the past two years, I’ve done my fair share of exploring the world. I travel on the cheap: backpacking, riding buses, sleeping in hostels, and eating from street vendors. Viewing the world from this perspective allows me to engage with local people living in real-life conditions. Basic needs truly are universal…and so many go without.
During my travels, I was surprised to discover that many people don’t ask for food or money. They ask for clothes. Clean, quality clothes. When I returned home, I wanted to help the people I had met. And thus World Clothes Line was born.
When was your business launched?
WCL launched as on online clothing store in September 2010. Yep, we’re brand new!
To what locations/countries do you send the donated clothing?
We currently have three clothing collections corresponding to three different countries: Indonesia, Peru, and the United States. The clothes purchased from each collection will give new clothes to people in that respective country. Our WCL team will travel (yep, we actually go!) around the world to personally deliver new clothes to those who need them most.
With relatively similar programs using different products, such as TOMS with their shoes, why did you choose to use this theme with clothing?
Clothing is one of our most basic human needs, ranking among air, food, water, and shelter. However, in cases of extreme poverty, clothing is one of the first needs to be ignored. People can rewear clothes…and therefore, they do. Day after day… after day.
The “giving philosophy”, as I like to call it, is a growing trend. For-profit companies are now incorporating philanthropy into their business models. This is what TOMS does with their shoes…and what World Clothes Line does with our clothing. I think every industry should do the same.
What are some goals that you hope to accomplish over the next year or so?
Within the next year, I would like to clothe an entire village in Indonesia, an entire village in Peru, and an area in need in the United States (we don’t live in villages, haha). Also, I can’t wait for the day that I randomly run into a customer out and about in WCL clothes!
Do you have any plans to expand on the products you offer or the locations you’d like to donate to? If so, can you give us a hint?
Yes! I would love to continually add collections for different countries around the world. Africa is high on my list of potential locations. Also, I’d like to expand my collections to include children’s clothing, hats, scarves, socks, jackets, belts…just about every type of clothing. I’m aiming big!
How long did it take for you to bring World Clothes Line from idea to viable business? What was that process like?
I first thought of World Clothes Line on Thanksgiving of 2009. I founded the company in January 2010…and nine months later, I was open for business. The entire process has been very exciting. The majority of my time was spent creating an exceptional website – one that explained my mission, was interesting to look at, and encouraged customers to participate. Please check it out: www.WorldClothesLine.com
What are some lessons your business has taught you?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is to never underestimate any relationship. Some of the smallest relationships have turned out to be the biggest connections. Share your project with everyone you know, and you’ll be surprised who comes out of the woodwork.
Do you have any advice you’d like to offer fellow social entrepreneurs that would like to give back in their own, unique ways?
Follow your passion. I look at the photos from my trips daily to stay connected with the people that inspired me. I am re-energized every time I hear positive feedback or that I’m inspiring others. Find something that excites you, and go after it. Belief in your cause is the greatest motivator.