Sustainable way to update your wardrobe 

If you look up the word swish in the dictionary it means to move something around and it can also mean elegant and fashionable ‘Oooh that’s a bit swish!’. It makes total sense then, to use the term for a clothes swapping event. 
I’d heard of swishing but never been to one before I organised my first one for charity back in March 2017. I did, however, know the feeling of getting something new to you and giving it a new lease of life, and how exciting that could be. I have a group of friends from uni days, and we always have ‘swapsie’ sessions as part of our regular meet ups. It’s a great way to pass on things that you no longer wear. 
The first swish event I hosted came about as a result of a couple of things that seemed to evolve quite naturally… 

Social event to swap clothes you no longer wear 

Firstly, I’d ran free a Style Challenge in my Style Sisterhood Facebook community as a way to brighten up a gloomy January and we celebrated at the end of it by having a social gathering in a pub. At that time most of my community were local to me in Nottingham, these days it’s got members form all over the world! 
The lovely thing about the Style Challenge was that these women had bonded and felt like they knew each other even though it was all online. The social was a great success. Everyone got chatting and what had been apparent during this challenge was the learning that had been a by-product – people knew much more about their likes and dislikes in terms of personal style. There was scope for a big swapping session – they turned to me to organise something. 

Organising a SWISH as a fundraiser 

At the time my lovely mum was living with terminal cancer. She had a brain tumour and despite surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy we knew she didn’t have that much longer with us. I was going to visit and stay with her as much as I could. She loved shopping and she loved looking nice – therefore she had tons of clothes and costume jewellery! She wasn’t wearing most of it and it all needed a good sorting out. 
This was a bit overwhelming for mum and she wasn’t well enough to do it on her own, but she was capable of supervising, so we did it together. We started with the costume jewellery – just the stuff that wasn’t in her colours top start with… 
I offered it to the ladies in my Style Challenge for a couple of quid per item and the money raised was going to the local hospice who mum had been to for some respite care. There was so much it raised a few hundred quid! 
As we got chatting at the Style Challenge social and talked about a swapping session, I remembered I’d heard about these things called swishes. It was quickly decided that we’d run one to raise money for charity – win, win! We set a date for 6 weeks later, I booked a church hall, set up a just giving page and started to promote it amongst my community and business network. I also asked for raffle prize donations. 

Raising money for charity 

I remember thinking that I was going to be bold and put it out there that my target was £1000. I thought it would be a stretch and we probably wouldn’t do it, but it seemed like a nice round figure. It was amazing how generous my network of business contacts were with prize donations – I totted up that there was around £5k of prizes for the raffle! 
To be on the safe side I needed the event to be set up so that it could run without me being there just in case mum needed me in Lancashire. I drew on my skills from my successful network marketing days and recruited a team of helpers. This team was split up into sub teams and were responsible for different aspects of the event- refreshments, clothes sorting, selling raffle tickets etc. It was all very ‘suck it and see’ for that first event – we really were finding our way; it was a massive learning curve. 
Imagine my delight when, at 9pm the night before the event we hit the £1k target on my just giving page! I was over the moon. I distinctly remember the tears rolling down my cheeks as I sat, home alone, watching Friday night telly with a glass of wine. This was achieved by presales of raffle tickets and charging £10 entrance fee. The best thing was that it meant I could just enjoy the social aspect of the event and anything else we raised was a bonus. 
We went onto raise £1800+ for our chosen charities that time. Five swishes plus a couple of fire and glass walks later we were just shy of £10k being raised in my mum’s memory and I’m really proud of that. 

Target of £11k by swapping clothes you no longer wear 

I’m currently running a Shop Your Wardrobe 21 Day Style Challenge in my Style Sisterhood group on FB, after having a break for a couple of years, which is how it all started. I’ve also got a date set for a SWISH which is going to happen in a couple of weeks – there are already enough donations to take us over the £10k mark. I’m hopeful to make it £11k by the time we’re done. 
As I said previously, the style challenge is a great way to inspire a declutter of clothes/accessories that you no longer wear, and with the hope of spring pushing the snowdrops and daffs up it seems like a good time for a wardrobe weed. I’ve got a few things in my bag ready but there’s a bit more to add yet. I’ll probably have more of a sort out at the weekend. 
If you feel inspired to have a wardrobe weed session you might like to have a read of this BLOG which provides a step-by-step guide on how to do it effectively. 

Eco friendly and fun 

If you can get to Nottingham on 5th Feb maybe you could bring your unwanted stuff and swap it for something new to you at the swish? It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe in an eco-friendly fun way. Pre register here  
The format is simple – you bring a bag full of clothes/accessories (supermarket bag for life size) and you get to try and choose a bag full to take away. The leftovers are donated to Sharewear Clothing Scheme, so it’s win win all round – what’s not to love. I’d love you to join us. 
If you can't join us but would like to make a donation please do so here - remember to leave your name and a message. Thank you 
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