This is a guest post from Asher Weinberger, the Founder and CEO of Twilllory. His interests include the crossroads of retail and technology as well as inventive philanthropy.
While many like to criticize this “selfie” generation for being self-obsessed and for its misuse of technology, in many ways the very opposite is true. I believe it is fair to say that never in history has there been such an awareness of the human condition and such a willingness to help where help is needed. We live in an age where companies are judged by their commitment to social responsibility and not just by their profit margins. The Internet has fostered interconnectivity and transparency, giving people a window into others’ lives, which in turn has engendered a greater sensitivity and camaraderie for fellow Homo Sapiens. This paradigm shift is the root cause for the explosive increase in philanthropic initiatives and charitable ingenuity emerging from the business landscape and from the tech startup scene in particular. Our company, Twillory, was built on this foundation and with this understanding.
I co-founded Twillory with the goal of providing value to our customers, and by value I mean a general value to their lives. My co-founders and I wanted to make our mark and so we brainstormed for months to try and come up with a millennial upgrade to the status quo in clothing donation. For as long as we could remember, clothing was donated via network of drop boxes in urban areas and donors would occasionally haul bags of goods to the nearest one for pickup by the sponsoring charity. This outdated system seemed inefficient and under effective. Thus, Re:Purpose was born. In Twillory packages, we have include a pre-paid Re:Purpose mailer bag to make it easy. Our customers replace the items they’ve purchased with gently used garments from the back of their closets, seal it and leave for the mail carrier. We then inspect, launder and repackage the donated goods for distribution to those in need. By joining forces with a forward thinking charity, Career Gear, the-purposed clothing will help the jobless, homeless and disaster stricken, both at home and abroad. The concept was simple- bring the drop box to the people- its simplicity is its beauty.
While we have been inspired by and took our cue from the likes of Toms and Warby Parker, we have one differentiating philosophy. We believe that there is a greater benefit to encouraging active participation rather than a passive one. This is based on our interpretation of Maimonides’s ancient philosophy. Maimonides asks “What’s better: To give $1,000 to 1 man in need, or $1 to 1,000 men in need?” Many people choose to give to one man, believing it makes the greatest difference. However, Maimonides states that the alternative is better, as every individual act of giving changes us positively which in the long run will result in much greater giving at much higher levels. Even if it’s something very small, such as donating a couple shirts, getting people personally engaged in philanthropy is much more powerful than having them passively donate a percentage of their purchase.
When we spent months working with the USPS to create a custom mailing solution for Re;Purpose (mighty difficult as you can imagine), it wasn’t only to give Twillory customers this added value. We are hoping to kick start a movement. Nothing would please us more than to have our innovation imitated. Imagine for one moment what would happen if retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and others would adopt a similar practice of paying for and providing Re:Purpose type mailers with each of the millions of daily orders on their websites. I don’t think it is far-fetched to predict that the clothing shortage worldwide would be solved practically overnight. This objective is realistically achievable and there is no better time to do it than the present because times are certainly, absolutely, and most definitely, a changin.