Amanda Munz is the Founder of The Fashion Foundation, a nonprofit that uses sales proceeds from donated fashion products to provide New York City children with school supplies. Amanda is also an instructor in LIM College’s Career & Internship Services office, where she teaches lessons in branding and networking.
How did you become involved in fashion?
I loved art as a kid and spent a lot of time drawing. I went to a trade high school for design and merchandising, where I learned fundamentals of fashion. I landed my first internship at 16 with a large swimwear manufacturer. (I couldn’t even drive yet; my parents had to drop me off after school and come back a few hours later to pick me up!) I stayed on as a paid intern at this company for five years, working in almost every department. After spending so many years in showrooms, I saw a trend: Designers and brands had far too many samples lying around that no one knew what to do with.
How did this lead to the formation of your nonprofit, The Fashion Foundation?
My idea was to get designers to donate samples they didn’t need, which I could then sell and use the proceeds to help local students … but I didn’t know any designers. So, I called my friends and family and told them to clean out their closets and give me any merchandise they didn’t want.
I started an online store, but quickly learned you can’t grow a business from your computer. I decided to go into New York City a few nights a week, so I could network. After about a year, I got my first major donation. I kept building relationships and received a few large donations—5,000 pieces of jewelry, 3,000 pajamas, 1,100 pounds of sweaters and pants. Eventually designers started learning about me, and that’s when everything exploded!
We use the proceeds from our New York City showroom, online shop, donations, and fundraisers to provide underprivileged students with new school supplies, art supplies, gym equipment, clean uniforms, and more. Thanks to fashion, I have helped over 10,000 students in New York.
What do you emphasize in your teaching at LIM College?
I focus a lot on networking, building relationships, and creating a personal brand. I teach my students how to send cold emails, how to revamp their resume with a creative format, and why it’s important to expand your orbits professionally and socially.
How do you infuse your real-world experience into your classes?
I share a lot about my experience in fashion and as an entrepreneur, connecting my lesson plan to real-life scenarios. When I teach about social media presence, I’ll show my class my social channels; one of the things I preach is how important it is to keep those channels professional but still stay true to your brand. You should never be ashamed to show someone your Instagram account.
How is your experience working with LIM students?
LIM students are not pigeonholed into one fashion category, which is incredible. I have students interested beauty, marketing, sustainability, PR, entrepreneurship, and that variety is what makes the industry go ‘round. LIM’s internship requirement is really beneficial, and I try and teach my students that even if one particular work experience isn’t your favorite, it guides you to the right path.