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For me, the ne plus ultra of shopping euphoria is not simply finding fabulous attire, but by purchasing said items I can contribute to the greater good. Happily, this is a more frequent occurrence than one might think. Every week, I come across several opportunities to shop at a store, buy a particular item or attend an event where a portion of the proceeds from my purchases will benefit a good cause. Although these shopping for good efforts are numerous and certainly admirable, they're piecemeal and I often wonder how much of an impact they make. Is there a way to shop for good where the "good" is more than an afterthought?
There is now, thanks to the Philanthropist Boutique in San Francisco. The boutique fills its racks with amazing designers like Zac Posen, Jill Stuart, Richard Chai, Rag & Bone, and Rachel Roy. Fashion-forward and philanthropic-minded consumers shop to their hearts' content and 100% of the profits from their purchases are donated to charity. That's right, 100%. This isn't just a limited time promotion or restricted to certain items; it's the boutique's standard business model. After covering all operating costs, the remaining proceeds go to benefit a Bay Area nonprofit organization that serves the disadvantaged.
Co-owner Jessica Moment was inspired by Newman's Own food products, best known for their yummy salad dressings (net profits of which go to support charities), and thought the same concept could work for a clothing boutique. When Paul Newman began his food product line, he set the highest of standards for his business: all net royalties and profits after taxes would be donated to charity. Because of his "shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good" (the company's motto), Newman's Own has given more than $265 million to numerous nonprofits over 25 years.
In the same manner, the Philanthropist Boutique seeks to use their profits to give back to the Bay Area community. Each season a different nonprofit organization is chosen as the store's beneficiary, which have included the Raphael House (providing housing for the homeless) and the Edgewood Center for Children and Families.
The store has stirred up quite a buzz amongst fashionistas, who can now score gorgeous clothes while supporting their local community. Philanthropist has donated approximately $58,000 to the Raphael House (their previous beneficiary), and with their full website launching soon, I'm sure this boutique's impact will continue to grow. My hope is that this model can be replicated in other cities. If you've been lucky enough to visit the Philanthropist Boutique, please comment and tell me all about your experience!