“Throughout the lock-down period, it has given me a huge sense of purpose and I have found it extremely fulfilling. I am grateful to be able to push my fundraising further by using the platform I am lucky to have on Instagram, and I am conscious to use this as an opportunity to incite positive change.”
Made In Chelsea’s Eliza Batten has been busy this lock-down selling her own clothes and other donated pieces on Depop. She has been raising large amounts of money for four different charities over the past few months, including: The Trussell Trust, Time 4 Children, The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the Southall Black Sisters.
Eliza returned to her family home in the countryside to isolate and has created a new way for people to be able to donate their clothes while the charity shops have been closed due to covid-19. Eliza has called on her followers to pass unwanted clothes on to her, and in turn, she sells them on Depop with all funds going to charity.
We discuss her recent charitable initiative, her experiences of moving back home, finishing her degree from Durham in her bedroom, and advice on how to stay positive.
The Batten family have a history of working with charities and helping those who are most in need. When asked how the idea came about, Eliza explained that: “Whilst I hadn’t sold clothes for charity before, this project came about after a visit to the local food bank with my mum and talking to volunteers who explained the precarious situation many families had found themselves in since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Donating a food parcel in March was an extremely humbling experience and I was keen to be able to make the food donations a weekly thing – so I went home, cleared out my wardrobe and began uploading onto Depop to start fundraising!”
Eliza’s innovative project started out by raising £150 after the first Depop drop and gradually escalated into £5,000. Eliza explained her shock at the pace at which the project continues to expand: “After exhausting the wardrobes at home, I reached out to local friends for other old and unused clothes lying around, and the next drop made over £400! I then decided to do a shout out on Instagram for clothes donations and it spiralled from there. I was amazed at the number of people donating and shopping the clothes, and thanks to everyone’s’ generosity we have now raised over £5000! This is a phenomenal amount of money and I could have never predicted being able to contribute so much to charity in such a short time.”
Eliza initially chose to raise money for Trussell Trust, a charity which works to stop hunger and poverty in the UK and Time 4 Children, a charity which supports the emotional wellbeing of children. When asked the reason for supporting these two charities Eliza said: “We chose the Trussell Trust after visiting and donating to our local food bank, and my Mum volunteers every week for Time 4 Children, a really amazing charity local to us in Sussex. As she does half of the Depop work behind the scenes, I thought it was only fair to go 50/50 with a charity of her choice.”
Instagram has played an important role in spreading the word and accumulating clothes. Eliza has 54k followers on Instagram and has highlighted the importance of using social media in a positive way: “It is such a privilege to have an Instagram following, one that I do not take for granted, and I always want to use it to make a positive difference. Without this volume of clothes donations, I would not have been able to continue raising money in this way, so it is definitely a team effort! I’ve been lucky that during lockdown lots of people have had a clear out of their wardrobe, and with charity shops closed they’ve had nowhere to offload them – enter me!”
Behind the scenes, Eliza, together with her mum and sister have been busy packaging, labelling and sending clothes to their new owners. She explained the arduous process behind the project: “I am not going to lie; it is very stressful! I love Depop, but it isn’t the easiest app for mass sending. There are no shortcuts – we have to print each label individually and match it to the package. For the packaging we use everything from our recycling, from cereal boxes to pizza boxes to bread bags. Anything goes!”
The Depop drops feature a range of different clothing items such as tops, bottoms and dresses. “Each category is dropped separately at half an hour intervals with everything selling within five minutes” said Eliza. The demand and attention which the project has attracted takes up the majority of the week. When asked if she plans on continuing the project post covid-19, she said: “It is unlikely I will be able to carry on at this level after lockdown, as I won’t (hopefully) have as much free time! However it is definitely something I would love to continue to do either on a smaller level or just less frequently. Perhaps a drop once a month?”
Eliza’s most successful Depop drop to date took place last Thursday and raised £1500 in under two hours. She explains the reason behind its success: “I think the success was due to a couple of factors: amazing quality donations (lots of new with tags), lots of friends of mine sharing details of the drop on social media, and a change of charities to two anti-racism organisations in the UK. The money raised from Depop allows me to give financial support to this vitally important work as well as raise awareness and encourage engagement and education amongst my Depop buyers and followers in general.”
After raising money for Trussell Trust and Time 4 Children, Eliza moved on to support The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the Southall Black Sisters. She explains the reason behind this choice and the importance of putting words into action: “Given the current events surrounding George Floyd’s murder and protests centred around the Black Lives Matter movement, it is imperative that we educate ourselves on the serious contemporary issues of racism, inequality, injustices, white privilege in society. The more I learn, the more determined I am to make a difference and put words into action. I did further research into various Black Lives Matter charities based in the UK, knowing that I wanted to find anti-racism charities that focussed predominantly on young people and vulnerable women.
“The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds building up careers and stronger communities whilst also helping create a more inclusive culture, and The Southall Black Sisters challenge all forms of gender-related violence, with particular focus on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women, as well as empowering these women to gain control over their lives.”
Talking about advice for people who want to follow in Eliza’s footsteps, she said: “I think go for it! So many of us have unworn clothes lying redundant in our wardrobes. I would always advocate selling them on. Not only does it raise money for charity, it gives clothes a second life and promotes sustainable shopping. Win win!”
Like many of us, Eliza moved back home to isolate with her family during the covid-19 pandemic. Beforehand, she was spending half of her time at the University of Durham where she studied anthropology, and the remainder of her time in London where she is part of E4’s Made In Chelsea cast.
Speaking about moving home and living with her family again Eliza said: “Surprisingly, my family have been quite fun to hang out with! Every week we have a themed dinner party which has definitely kept morale high. My favourite theme was ‘female film leads’ where my Mum painted herself green to go as Fiona from Shrek, and my Dad dressed as an old lady to be Mrs Doubtfire! A classic memory that I will treasure forever. As for university, I never thought I would be completing my degree from my bedroom, but if anything, having work has kept me busy which is no bad thing! I am desperate to go back to normal life from a social perspective, however I am nervous for my peers and me going into the working world in today’s economic climate.”
While we are all finding new ways of dealing with every day life, Eliza wants her followers to remember that: “It is okay not to be okay! This is the first time in my life I have nothing set in stone and no form of education to go back to in September. If I think about that too much, I feel a bit sick. However, I try to always stay busy and open minded, and during times like this I am particularly thankful for family and friends in my life. Stay grounded and be grateful for the little things.”
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