When talking social enterprise its hard to choose the best of a pretty darn good bunch of big hearted, business savvy, creative types who are doing their best to change the world for the better. So here they are, in no particular order, my favourite five Social Entrepreneurships…
Hunter and Gather (Brotherhood of St. Laurence)
This is my favourite at the moment, The Brotherhood of St Laurence, a business that has been supporting the community as a not for profit organisation but also providing a valuable service to the Australian sustainability league, by turning land fill into treasure.
For over a decade the Hunter Gather has been trading as a second hand vintage boutique. The Fitzroy store, currently managed by Megan proudly boasts that there little enterprise is going from strength to strength where as other vintage stores in the popular trading street, have long since gone. Just don’t go in without financial support because I guarantee you won’t be able to walk out with an empty re-usable shopping bag.
274 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 03) 9415 7371
Bhelo is an Australian label produced in a rural artesian community in Bangladesh. The cotton and cotton mills produce the yarn, which is then dyed and woven, printed and/or embroidered to create limited edition garments.
“Our brand philosophy is to connect the wearer to the garment, establishing a connection and empowering our customers to know the origins of the clothes they are purchasing. We believe that this form of transparency is crucial to encouraging people to make ethical decisions towards the things that we acquire in our lives, clothing included. One of the ways we are doing this is through video, linking each garment to a video of the piece being made.”
The Social Studio
Bill them selves as a fashion label, shop and café, but it is no secret that The Social Studio is much more then that.
Founded in 2009, the Social studios focus is to provide a safe place, creating awareness and change to public perceptions for people who have experienced being a refugee. Operated by a board of design, business, media and communication experts as well as community development workers and community leaders for refugee communities in Melbourne.
Its aim is to generate income by investing in creating social and educational benefits in the community.
The garments are 100% design and made in Collingwood to the highest quality but also with the lowest environmental footprint possible: minimal fabric waste and source materials as end-of-roll lengths from the local fashion industry. While fabric off-cuts are used to create jewellery and accessories.
They also offer a printing service that not only boasts “dazzling colour” but also minimal fabric waste and zero ink waste.
So big is their heart that they’re also mentor other creative enterprises, including The Social Outfit (Sydney), Twich Women’s Sewing Cooperative (Dandenong), No Sweat Fashions (Canberra) and The Global Studio (La Trobe Valley), among others.
Their products can be found at The Social Studio clothing store, fabric printing studio and The Cutting Table café are located in Collingwood, Melbourne Australia. They have an online store and a runway gala dinner coming up on the 5th of September. They’re even offering a ‘pay if forward’ ticket option at a discounted price. Pay it forward allows you to buy a ticket for some one who otherwise might not be able to afford to go. Click on the image to buy your ticket.
No Sweat Fashions and The Social Outfit
No Sweat Fashions (Canberra), and The Social Outfit (Sydney), are social enterprises under the mentor-ship of The Social Studio. Similar to the Melbourne model a shop, café and training is provided offering free sewing lessons to migrants and refugees who want to improve their employment opportunities in Australia, while offering a new medium to meet people and socialise.
The Sydney store offers clothing, fashion accessories and homewares. While, Canberra also offers an online store which features uniquely designed home wares but also offer custom fashion dressmaking, including wedding dresses and formal wear, pattern making, grading, sample sewing and small-Scale Production (typically less than 20 pieces per run).
Venice, California is famous for its magnificence, beaches and canals as it is for its eccentric characters and beautiful people. But beyond the vapid egocentrics of muscle beach, it is also the birthplace of one of the first Social Enterprise models, TOMS.
Described as a one for one business model TOMS began in 2006 after founder, Blake Mycoskie befriended the children of an Argentinian village and realised that they didn’t have adequate shoes for their feet.
The model itself is simple. For every pair of shoe purchased, a pair is donated to those throughout the world in need. Since it’s insertion TOMS has also branched out into sunglasses with profits going towards the restoration of sight to a person in need. In 2014 they’ve also announced the Roasting Co. with one week of clean water to a person in need for each bag of coffee purchase.
TOMS shoes are distributed to areas where the health and social benefits of the shoes will be the highest, helping prevent sole-borne diseased. Their sunglasses are sold within the one for one model providing prescription glasses as well as medical treatments and eye surgeries, with profits benefiting education and medical support to those who would otherwise have very little or no access. While partnerships with Charlize Theron for the Africa Out reach Project, creating limited edition shoes benefit education and medical support in remote areas of Africa.
After recent criticism regarding the one for one donation model, TOMS has since announced that by 2015 one third of their shoe production will be in counties receiving aid. True to their word in 2013 they announced production in Haiti, a program that includes the employment of 30 Haitian artisans who design ad hand painted TOMS shoes. There are 5 other TOMS factory locations around the world including South Africa, Argentina and USA.
TOMS products can be found one line, through stockists or shop their market place for like minded business and partnerships.