Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself (CYNY) is a nonprofit clothing company dedicated to changing the face of poverty through clothing. The founder, James Barnett, was raised in middle-class America by a religious family. They went to church regularly but Barnett started to feel like there was something wrong in the way his family practiced their religion. So, at the age of 24, he quit his job, sold off all his belongings and became intentionally homeless for two years. He wanted to discover a different way to serve God and figured he needed to immerse himself in a life he wasn’t used to in order to figure out how.
One day, the life of one of his homeless friends changed forever with a pair of steel-toed boots. He was able to land a job in construction and eventually housing. Barnett could not believe that something as simple as clothing could have such an impact. At the time, there were no nonprofit clothing brands and Barnett resolved to start one. Today, Barnett is the executive director and runs the CYNY in Atlanta, GA with his wife and dog (who was appointed Chief of Snuggles).
Since the start of CYNY, customers have helped to provide:
- seamstress jobs to women rescued from the sex trade in India,
- school uniforms to orphans in Kenya and Haiti,
- interview attire to the homeless,
- wigs for women fighting cancer,
- diapers to single parents, and
- backpacks to US children living in poverty.
Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself has clearly been busy making impacts throughout the world.
CYNY recognizes that their clothing isn’t necessarily cheap. That’s because they refuse to cut corners while trying to help people. From the farmers who grow the cotton to the seamstresses who create the finished products, CYNY pays fair and ethical wages.
Each purchase from Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself provides a school uniform for an impoverished child or gives job training and a professional wardrobe to a homeless person. When making a purchase, you get to choose the cause most important to you.
The company partners with retailers throughout the world. The hope is to make a larger impact for those who need it and change the culture of consumerism.
Some companies are becoming more aware of the social and environmental impacts of their clothing. It is great to see a company dedicated to using their business for positive social change.