While volunteering for a nonprofit that provided food and clothing to low-income families, Lucy Langley realized that new underwear was hardly ever donated. She talked to Laura Delaflor to determine how they could address the lack of undergarment donations and meet clients’ needs.
“We knew there was a need, and we knew how we could reach the clients in need, but we were unsure how to progress with the idea,” Langley and Delaflor recall. They took the Simple Steps for Starting Your Business workshop and soon after created The Undies Project.
Initially, the women worked with Neighbor to Neighbor, the nearby nonprofit where Langley was a volunteer, to familiarize the community with their work. “We tested the waters to see what drives would work or not work, how the idea would resonate with the community, and if it would be supported.” After a successful first year, they decided to form their own nonprofit and expand the number of organizations The Undies Project would help.
The Undies Project provides new, unused underwear to men, women and children in need. The organization collects underwear through clothing drives and also raises funds to purchase underwear. “Hygiene and physical comfort are only a part of this basic human need,” their website explains. “New, clean underwear also provides dignity and self esteem.”
The founders have also continued to attend SCORE workshops on various business topics, including public speaking, business financials, branding and social media, intellectual property, and email marketing. “At every workshop we have come away with something new, and often with new questions to research that we hadn’t thought of before,” Langley and Delaflor say.
Volunteer mentor Brian Jarvis helped Langley and Delaflor take the first steps in launching The Undies Project and advised them to host their first drive. “Without him, we would not have the confidence we now do to ask for help and donations,” the women note. He then pushed them to form a nonprofit. Mentor Bob Hurwich stepped in to help when it was time to incorporate, file for 501(c)(3) status, and explore insurance options.
“He has always believed in us and our cause,” Langley and Delaflor say of Jarvis. They meet once a month to review their progress. “He keeps us focused and on track, as there is so much going on with running the business,” Langley and Delaflor say. “He is also very good at getting us to think ahead to the next step!"