San Antonio Entrepreneurs Offer Families Innovative Way to Tackle Textile Waste

Best friends and stay-at-home moms Nicole Boynton and Kara Livingston created Hand Me Up to change the narrative about the clothing industry.

Hand Me Up; San Antonio; Textile Waste

Think about waste for a moment. We generally think of the typical items we toss into our trash at home. We package our trash into bags, place it in bins, wheel it to the curb and forget about it until it's time to repeat the process the next day. For most of us, that's the extent to which we think about trash in our daily lives.

Textile Waste Spurs Innovation

In 1980, the EPA reported roughly 5 billion pounds of textile waste generated by the U.S.—since then, the EPA estimates Americans generate 16 million tons of textile waste annually.

Post-consumer textile waste includes purchased products like clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, towels, bedding, and drapery. Beyond this, what is most alarming is that 95% of all textiles can potentially be reused or recycled but are currently only recycled at a rate of 15%.

After learning about the state of textile waste and the clothing industry, two San Antonio best friends and stay-at-home moms took action. Nicole Boynton and Kara Livingston founded Hand Me Up to reduce textile waste through upcycling, recycling, and community-charitable donations.

Starting a small business together was a natural progression for this duo as they have been friends since teenagers.

"You know, even in high school, we planned summer camps together to raise money for our class trip," Livingston said. "We have always just had fun building things together. At this point, we have worked together on so many projects that it's second nature to us."

Hand Me Up Turns Waste Into Capsule Clothing for Children

Hand Me Up; Capsule Clothing
Nicole Boynton (left) and Kara Livingston (right)

Boynton and Livingston started as Simply Whole Moms, creating blogs, podcasts, and planners. As the two began meeting other mothers, they quickly discovered the impact a community has to make real change for the world.

"We used the years of interviewing moms, supporting them, and turned it into a business idea we were passionate about," Livingston said. "We have always cared about the injustices in the clothing industry. At some point, the two, the need to help moms and the injustices in the fast fashion industry, intersected, and Hand Me Up was born."

Hand Me Up creates and offers capsule clothes for kids through the reuse of textile waste. By completing a quick form for details on preference, customers can purchase a bag of laundered and ready-to-wear kid's clothes delivered to their door. Customers can also pass hand-me-downs to Hand Me Up and receive credit for their next order.

The simple strategy creates a sustainable ecosystem that effectively minimizes textile waste for San Antonio residents.

"We have found that people generally want to do the right thing; they want to be a part of something that makes a difference."

Advice for Future Innovators

The two moms are not only well-versed in creating change, but they're also looking at how their story can serve as an example for others. The innovators behind Hand Me Up offer simple advice for those considering starting their own business.

"Do it! Motherhood has a way of consuming you, your identity, [and] your heart. I have never regretted pursuing something that makes me sharper, that takes me out of my comfort zone," Livingston said. "At this point, our children are still young, but they already understand the joy and lessons that can be learned by running a business. Our kids are watching us, and if for nothing else, we owe it to them to show them they can do anything they want to."

In 2022, the duo shows no signs of slowing down their mission to advocate and promote action against textile waste.

"We have so much fun ahead of us! This year we have so much education on the fashion industry, how to consume more consciously, and how to give more life to your clothes," Livingston said. "We are excited to learn all this along with our community. We will also continue to grow our upcycle line as we share more seamstresses and their work. We will process more clothes, which means more charitable donations to moms and babies."


Looking for more information?

Visit @handmeup_shop on Instagram or check them out at