My four-year-old wore an outfit of her own design, entitled Butterfly Fairy Princess Dress, on the fashion show runway. I sewed it for her out of a woman’s skirt, two sweaters, and a sequined blazer. The infrastructure included wire hangers, newspaper, and lots of hot glue. Sydney got free hair and make-up, she posed for a photo shoot, she walked the runway, she had an absolute blast, and she helped raise a ton of money for our town’s Center for Sustainable Living.
Sydney and I were part of the Refashion portion of the evening, because Syd’s outfit was upcycled from other articles of clothing. You should have seen the Trashion portion, however–its outfits were made from plastic bags, inner tubes, industrial supplies, and other waste materials, and pretty much stole the show.
Looking for a big-bucks fundraiser for your eco group, one that promotes community involvement and sustainability and is just plain fun? Then I highly recommend organizing a Trashion/Refashion Show for your town. Here’s how to get one started:
1. Make sure your community can support this community-supported project. Fashion show participants design and create their own outfits, and model those outfits themselves or rely on volunteer models. Their payment is publicity, the fabulousness of the runway, and the fun of the experience. For a Trashion Show to work, then, your community should have a healthy population of student, amateur, or professional fashion designers. It’s pretty much an ideal fundraiser for a college organization, if you don’t leave out the sewing moms and fashion designer four-year-olds who live in your community.
2. Have standards. Creating a simple juried application process weeds out the really unsuitable projects, sneakily ensures that everyone gets their outfits made well before show time, and helps future ticket buyers know that they will be seeing quality garments on the runway. You don’t have to throw out that application from the group of scatterbrained tweens, however, because audience members know how to be generous to well-meaning amateurs, but still…better safe than sorry, friends.
3. Pave your way with donors and sponsors, and promote the hell out of them in return. Designers and models will never be late for rehearsal if they know that there’s free pizza waiting for them. Audience members will be lining up to get in if they know that the first 100 entries get swag bags. Runway models will look so much more amazing if there’s an army of student hair and make-up artists backstage to give them the dramatic eyeshadow and wild up-dos that a fashion show needs. All most sponsors really need are prolific thank-you’s and a spot on all the promo materials.
4. Infuse your event with atmosphere. How much fun can you fit into one evening? Well, you could have a community art project that incorporates recycled materials. You could have an Upcycle Exchange. You could have a silent auction of even more upcycled art. You could invite the local hula hoop troop to perform, and the local indie marching band, and the fire-dancing club, AND the model airplance precision flying hobbyists. For your audience member’s ticket price, they should be treated to as much awesomeness as you can stuff into one evening.
Membership dues and small-time fundraising are irreplaceable, of course, but there’s nothing like a wildly popular, community-based, large-scale fundraiser to really give a group the financial boost it needs. In turn, whether yours is an outreach group, or a political one, or just a “we keep the litter picked up off the streets” kind of organization, you know that money’s going right back into the community.
Are you part of a non-profit eco organization that has some original fundraising ideas? Share them in the comments below, or link to your own blog post about it.