Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT) is gaining another up-and-coming tenant as part of its garment manufacturing hub.
FABSCRAP, a 501c3 nonprofit fabric recycling company, recently signed a lease for a 4,100-square-foot space at the massive waterfront complex.
Jessica Schreiber, founder of FABSCRAP, which originally operated out of Jamaica, Queens, described what makes her company so unique.
“We are different from other non-profit thrift stores in that we don’t take garments,” she said. “We take unused fabric. We work specifically with design brands and fashion companies in the city, and we take their unwanted and unused fabric and it becomes one of two things. The smaller pieces get shredded and become insulation and with the larger pieces, we’ve created a thrift store for raw materials for fashion students and emerging designers and quilters.”
Before FABSCRAP, which was founded in September, 2016, Schreiber worked at the New York City Department of Sanitation.
“I was there for five years there and managed the city’s clothing recycling program so I really learned a lot about textiles and second hand clothing,” she explained. “I felt like I was hearing about a problem that I knew how to solve so that’s when I started to organize FABSCRAP as an organization that could address the textile waste problem on the commercial side.”
FABSCRAP recycles discarded textiles from New York designers such as J.Crew, Eileen Fisher, Marc Jacobs, Nautica and Oscar de la Renta.
Despite the fact that the company is only a couple of years old, the effort has grown.
“I think it grew way faster than I expected.” Schreiber said. “We are working with over 150 different brands now and we’ve had over 600 volunteers come in to help us sort fabric. We’ve also started doing pop-ups for fabric sales at fashion schools and launched an online store. It’s grown so fast, at this point we’ve saved over 100,000 pounds of fabric from landfills.”
Moving to BAT, “Just feels like it’s an upgrade in every way,” she added. “We have much more space, the team there has been so welcoming, accommodating and helpful with what we’re trying to create and the other tenants in that area are aligned with our industry and mission. It’s such a great fit and it’s easy to get to (BAT). That’s great for shoppers and volunteers.”
Executive Director of Sunset Park for the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Julie Stein also expressed excitement at the move.
“FABSCRAP is truly an innovative nonprofit,” Stein explained. “The fabric recycling helps the fashion industry in terms of collecting scraps from commercial businesses and recycling. They have a large following of volunteers and people who purchase the material. They’re doing something really unique.”
The garment hub creates opportunity for local residents, she added.
“Sunset Park is the second largest cluster of garment manufacturing in New York City outside of the garment district,” Stein said. “That means there are a lot of local Sunset Park residents who are employed in that sector.”
In addition, FABSCRAP just adds to BAT’s growing micro manufacturing hub.
“What we like about the micro manufacturing hub is that it’s a place where businesses can have the support and space that they need to grow their operations. They can start as small as 1,000 feet and grow in the campus over time without having to relocate from [BAT],” said Stein. “FABSCRAP is one of our core four tenants, our strategy to bring different types of manufacturers into the BAT and they fall under our Made in New York campus strategy.”
Schreiber is optimistic about the future.
“Since January, we’ve added 30 more companies to service and we are just hoping that in this neighborhood we can create a lot of volunteer interest and potentially become a hub for sustainable fashion,” she said. “People like what we’re doing and we’d love to host some educational and outreach events about all of the cool stuff happening in sustainable fashion. That is something we wouldn’t have been able to do before.”
For more information or to become a volunteer, visit www.fabscrap.org.