Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Brittany VanMarte Is Helping To Change Our World

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Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Brittany VanMatre Of Spin&Give Is Helping To Change Our World

Social media is necessary, time consuming, and hard to please everyone — I wasn’t much of an Instagram person, I would occasionally post a family picture or pictures of my son for friends and family to see. My account was private. Once I started Spin&Give it was all social media on deck. I’ve gotten used to it and enjoy sharing my mission and hopefully I educate someone, and they decide to start shopping resale. You will get negative comments, even when you are trying to do a good thing. Usually, the good outweighs the bad.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brittany VanMatre.

Brittany grew up in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. She is the daughter of musician Don Henley. Brittany graduated from Concordia University with a bachelor’s degree in Business, then getting her M.A in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College. Prior to starting Spin & Give, she spent seven years serving on the board of Kids in A New Groove which is a program that is committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through free weekly, private music lessons. Brittany’s mission for Spin&Give is to help reduce the waste of clothes and textiles, give clothes more lives with resale and to keep them out of landfills, all while giving back to other charities in need.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was certainly a long path that brought me to what I do now. I’d say my true career path started after I obtained my Maters in Visual Media Arts at Emerson College, specializing in Television and Documentary Filmmaking. I built and ran Eva Longoria’s (my best friend of 28 years now) production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. I loved production and all the details that went into it, creating something from scratch and building something for people to enjoy! I worked with Eva for 5 years and was offered a job opportunity in Austin to produce music festivals with C3 Presents. I decided to take the opportunity, plus I had been wanting to move back to Austin for some time.

At C3, not only was I producing wonderful experiences for people to enjoy the festivals but C3 was the first company that I worked for that really embraced and taught me about so many sustainable initiatives — lower carbon footprint, compostable cups and catering utensils, water refill stations, etc.

After 15 years in production, I was ready to start my next career…mommy!

I was very fortunate in that I was able to stay home with my son for his first two years. In that time about 4 of my best friends had babies too. We were all receiving so many gifts for our boys…talking about how quickly they grow out of things, how they never wear half the stuff you have. We were all handing down clothes to each other, trying to make the most use of everything.

It was then that I had an Ah-ha moment sitting with Eva, and told her, what if I take all the beautiful used and unused items (clothes, strollers, toys, gear) that our boys grow out of and sell them online and give them another life, maybe even 2 or 3 lives and, instead of a commission going into our pockets, the commissions go to a charity! From there the donor list grew and is still growing.

I decided to create an opportunity to address fashion sustainability while giving back to those in need.

Spin&Give was born from a realization that we need to do better when it comes to keeping clothes out of landfills.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Hmmm…So far nothing too interesting. The day we got to move out of a 10×30 storage unit into our own warehouse was exciting. I wasn’t sure we’d ever fill it up with items, but we are getting close!

Getting my official stamp for the 501c3 was exciting too. As for interesting I’m still waiting for that.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We know that fashion resale shopping has exploded in popularity, as more and more consumers recognize the impact that fashion has on our environment.

First off, Spin&Give curates the best finds from the closets of its donors, offering items from newborns to young adults. We feel, no matter how ethically or unethically something was made, it is still absolutely critical for all of us to try to extend the life span of garments to help benefit the environment.

-Globally, 80% of discarded textiles are dumped in a landfill or incinerated. Clothing that ends up in landfills can sit there for 200 plus years, as it decomposes, it emits methane — a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon.

-The US alone sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills every year. Sadly, only 10–15% of donated clothing will end up in the secondhand market. National charities receive more donations than they can handle, so much of it is re-sold overseas or sent to landfills.

Secondly, the usual commission you’d get when selling your clothes, now goes to a non-profit organization. Spin&Gives donors have chosen so many wonderful organizations that help women, children, hospitals, LGBTQ communities, the environment and so many more!

We keep items out of landfills and give back to those in need — win, win!

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Last year during the holidays Spin&Give teamed up with a wonderful organization, Global Gift Foundation USA, which supports several charities. For Christmas last year we participated in their annual drive to help 200 families in need. We donated to the families that had children, providing them with clothes and toys. The organization sent me a list of ages from 3 months to 16 years old. I was so excited to put together all the bags of clothes for every age she had sent me, except for the 16-year-old girl. I did my best to put together even some of my old gently used clothes, but my heart was tugging at me that I didn’t have enough.

I called the organization to see if anyone was pregnant in the families because I had SO much newborn stuff, in hopes to help more. Sure enough, they called me back and said only one person is pregnant…it was the 16-year-old girl! I had my son’s old stroller which included a bassinet to stroll him in and I filled that stroller with clothes, toys, and a brand-new breast pump. I didn’t get to deliver it to her personally, but Global Gift Foundation sent me pictures and a video if her receiving it and there were tears, which of course made me ball. It just proves that someone else’s junk is another person’s treasure. We have so much clothing and things on this planet that deserve to live on and possibly change someone’s life! My heart was full, and I hope hers is still too.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Absolutely, there are so many things that our community and society can do firsthand to address the problems in the fashion industry, which is the #2 pollutant in the world.

1 — Buy resale as much as you can. Our planet has so many great clothes out there that just need more life. If you want to buy new, get a classic piece that will last forever and can be passed down to family or friends. I still wear and have some of my mother’s clothes from the 70’s.

2 — Don’t throw gently worn clothes in the trash, try to resell them or donate to an organization where you know it goes into the hands of those in need, and not shipped off overseas to end up in landfills. Ask your donation center, what do they do with the items you donate.

3 — Buy resale, buy resale, buy resale!!! Tell other to buy resale. Swap clothes with your friends. I know I said it, saying it again, everything we need is out there already.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership can be defined so many ways in different aspects of your life — personal, social and career. I think we all take on a different type of leadership in all those rolls. In my career, my mission for Spin&Give, I would define leadership as proactive, being someone who has the personal initiative to take action, to research and educate others. Surround myself with other leaders who are working toward making our world a better place.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Your brand will probably change a few times — I went through 2 different company names, 3 different versions of logos, and 3 completely different websites. It takes time for perfection, and we are still working on it!
  2. Take a refresher Excel class — I had created budgets and spreadsheets at my jobs doing production but doing budgets and spreadsheets for a startup company and a 501c3 is a lot!! Or, if you can hire someone who’s an Excel wizard — do it!
  3. You are going to make mistakes — I’ve had several mistakes here and there from messing up orders to completely forgetting to add a code for a discount to one of my first big sales. All you can do is acknowledge the mistake, try to make it right as best you can and then learn from it.
  4. Social media is necessary, time consuming, and hard to please everyone — I wasn’t much of an Instagram person, I would occasionally post a family picture or pictures of my son for friends and family to see. My account was private. Once I started Spin&Give it was all social media on deck. I’ve gotten used to it and enjoy sharing my mission and hopefully I educate someone, and they decide to start shopping resale. You will get negative comments, even when you are trying to do a good thing. Usually, the good outweighs the bad.
  5. Don’t give up or listen to the naysayers — I have had my fair share of people telling me this won’t work or it’s going to be too hard. I say to them if it was easy then everybody would be doing it!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Okay — when I really started to dig deep and research how Spin&Give could truly, one day, make resale & recycling clothes cyclical and never end up in landfills, I came across an article about a machine that breaks down fabrics and regenerates them into new organic thread! I was blown away, so much so that I got in touch with the wonderful Stacy Flynn, CEO and Founding Partner of Evrnu. Evrnu is a textile innovations company creating a circular ecosystem.

She was so kind and told me all about her journey into the textile world and how she came about this incredible machine, I believe is called NuCycl. I asked her, “I know I can resale clothes, help give items more lives, I can donate to those in need, I can possibly even upcycle clothes and toys into new products…but how do we keep all the really torn and tattered clothes, the dirty socks and underwear (that we all have thrown away) out of landfills?”

The answer is with a machine like this that regenerates! If I could inspire a movement where we had clothing recycle bins at our homes just like we do with plastics, glass, paper, and yard clippings — and those clothing bins went to NuCycl machines all over the world — we could make fashion and textiles cyclical! No more landfills!

For now, at Spin&Give we ask that our donors give us the clothes that have lived its last life too, in hopes that we will find a way to regenerate it all.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There has been so many “life lesson quotes” through different stages in my life. One that has always stuck with me and truly resonates with what I am doing now is ”Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m Possible’! — Audrey Hepburn

I am not only in awe of Audrey Hepburn as an actress, but more so of her work she did with UNICEF and children’s rights.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Yes, two people, sorry I’m being greedy 😉

Andrew Morgan (@andrew_morgan) and Stella McCartney (@stellamccartney)

Andrew is the writer and filmmaker of the documentary “The True Cost”. After watching this documentary my mission got a whole lot bigger and made me so much more passionate about keeping clothes out of landfills. It’s a movie every generation should watch, I learned so much, but I could probably listen to him and learn so much more and ask questions about can I do this? And can I do that? What more can I do, can we all do?

Stella, who is also in this film, really spoke to me because not only is she a designer trying to pave the way for sustainable fashion, she also is working with new technologies that could make textiles and fashion cyclical…never see a landfill again. This is something that I want to do and educate others that there is an option out there to do it!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — @spinandgive

FaceBook — @Spin&Give

Twitter — @SpinandGive

TikTok — @spin_give

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!



Brittany Henley VanMatre

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Brittany VanMarte Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.