R44 is about brotherhood, getting together a like-minded group of guys that are similarly driven by proactivity and positive initiatives…a concept we know as “Deeds Not Words.” One fellow in particular stands out from the crowd for standing for what he believes in. With deep roots in the fashion industry, Kurt Narmore was able to grow Hand Me Ups, getting the excess of the clothing industry to where it is needed most….the kids!
Was there one experience you recall that sparked this whole project?
I was a punk kid just out of high school working as a box boy for Stussy when they sent me to go clean and organize two separate warehouses filled to the roof with excess stock and seconds that had been accumulating since Shawn started it 25 years prior. I wondered, how the hell could there be so much shit? And what was their reason for keeping it all? Accustom to the surf industry being raised in Newport Beach, I had yet to learn that there are brands (like Stussy) that have integrity. Flooding the market with excess stock to big box discount retailers and warehouse sales every 6 months was not an option! I created an alternative option, Hand Me Ups.
How do you reckon new clothing changes a child’s life?
It’s the first step. New, clean, well fitted, desirable branded clothing to a child who has had nothing but hand me downs and oversized crap sparks an enhanced sense of self-worth full of dignity and confidence. Combined with the resources to learn, these kids have an increased opportunity to succeed; an opportunity to turn dreams into reality.
You’re working with Boys and Girls Club of America. What part of the country are you currently focused on and are there plans to expand?
Currently I am saturating California. I’m slowly building brand awareness the way I think is best for longevity. I’m not trying to rake in millions of dollars in donations, but build relationships core to my beliefs. Recently I’ve launched the “Summer Shop Series”, where I’ve partnered with rad retail stores in California including Thalia, Aloha Sunday, Port, and Froghouse. Hand Me Ups works with each store to fundraise in unique and fun ways like selling special collaboration t-shirts, having art shows & auctions, doing live surfboard shaping clinics, and my personal favorite, the bikini car wash.
What are some brands that HMU has worked with in the past?
Hand Me Ups has been pretty fortunate to work with some killer brands. Our biggest donors include American Apparel, KRMA by Nicholas Bowes, Freshjive (RIP), and Volcom. In past successful fundraising efforts we’ve partnered with Quality Peoples, Kid Creature, Cast of Vices, and Warriors of Radness. I am also very proud to have some of the coolest cats on earth contributing their time and presence at Hand Me Ups events on a continuous basis including legendary Dogtown skater Tony Alva, pro surfers Ford Archbold, Andrew Doheny, and Kyle Kennelly, influential artists and designers Calvin Saxton and Rick Klotz and professional boxer Zachary Wohlman (3-0).
It’s clear that the kids will be happy with some new clothing, but how does a clothing company benefit from getting involved?
There are several benefits for a brand or manufacture to become philanthropically involved with Hand Me Ups…
- Donated product allows for substantial tax break through tax code 170(e)3
- Exposure through collaborative fundraising projects and marketing campaigns promoting brand and it’s philanthropic interest
- Savings by reducing warehouse storage overhead
No matter the market, there is a fit. We work with each brand to discuss where and how they would like their product to be distributed without effecting sales or flooding the market in that area. If interested, advise your CPA and get in contact with Hand Me Ups!
What’s the current collab with Quality Peoples?
We recently partnered up with Quality Peoples to do a limited collaboration t-shirt sold exclusively through Hand Me Ups to raise money for our first international project in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Ed Fladung, designer and co-owner of Quality Peoples is based just outside of Puerto Vallarta and I found it to be a perfect collaboration for our efforts.
What were you up to in Puerto Vallarta?
We partnered with Mexico based non-profit PEACE (peacemexico.org) for the re-development and enhancement of the PEACE community center which serves the surrounding underdeveloped communities with alternative schooling, after school programs, English classes, computer classes, and job skills training. We got busy painting the entire exterior with a more welcoming look, built bookshelves, created a designated reading area, refurnished desks among a series of other things but my favorite was the installment of a 3 meter flag pole. Unlike the United States, kids in Mexico do not have a sense of patriotism. When the flag was first raised, the excitement from the 200+ kids on campus that day was crazy.
Did you find the time to get some surfing in?
Of course! I had an incredible team come be a part of this project including Kahana Kalama and Billy Wickens of Aloha Sunday, it just so happens they rip at surfing. With Ed from Quality Peoples as our surf guide we were able to catch some pretty epic point break waves after an honest days work; two weeks straight.
Organizing something like this must be non-stop work! Tell us about one of those moments that makes it all worth it.
When you love what you do it becomes a lifestyle. The people I meet, the brands I work with, the places I travel, together create opportunity in itself for success. What I do is share my resources to children who may never be exposed to an opportunity. When these kids take advantage of the opportunity I know I’ve made a difference in their lives as they strive to succeed at their new found goals.
“Deeds Not Words” is our motto. What does that mean to you?
Actions are louder than words. Quit talking about it and do it!