What does it really take to create a business that makes a social impact? Have you ever dreamed of what you could do through your business for your deepest, most passionate cause?
This week we dive really deep into the world of conscious businesses through the lens of some of our favourite OC peeps who are doing BIG work!
We learn what the big whys are for them as well as the tips they have learned along the way, as they make a profit AND a difference – something to inspire the do-er in us all of what is possible when we combine caring and action for real social impact.
Paint us a picture of your purpose-driven business + what mountains you are movin’ right now?
Rae-Anne: My situation is a little different in that this project I’m working on right now isn’t my business, this is my own NGO that I run with my husband, Shanton. We started Aussieghana Relief in 2010 when we moved to Ghana for a year. Until this year our projects have been all self-funded and range from working directly with orphanages, to large scale feeding programs and international donations that we collect and ship to Ghana. We also have a women’s cooperative that make a particular beautiful and unique hair tie for us called Lokk Twists, and we pay more in an hour than they would usually be paid in a month, so it gives us great joy to provide skills training and a reliable source of income for our girls. We give all of the money to the girls and a few dollars leftover after we pay for product and postage, goes directly to our shelter.
Right now we are working on the construction of Ghana’s first women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence. This is Shanton’s lifelong dream, as had there been such things available when he was growing up, he would not have had to raise himself from the age of 10. That’s a whole other story in itself and it’s his to tell, and I hope he will write about it one day.
Hang: All The Wild Roses is a socially conscious label that blends both style & impact. “Because we believe real style is about looking good, feeling good and doing good.”
“The core purpose of our brand is to create beautiful things in a beautiful way. For us, it means being conscious of our impact on people & the environment in the process of creating our designs & products.”
The brand was created to provide an avenue into global markets for seamstresses in North Vietnam so they would have greater opportunity for growth, improved incomes & living standards. “Today, they’re the hearts & hands behind our collection, and the dream is to use fashion as a force for change by creating opportunity.”
Through our Dare to Dream project, every purchase helps to provide a micro-loan to a women-led business in a developing country to earn a living for their family and to rise out of poverty.
Ultimately, our vision is to contribute to a better world & fashion is our medium. We believe fashion is art, art changes people & people change the world.
Bron: Because I believe in a world where people can heal, grow, be moved, and feel good through music, I:
- Create music harrisontheartist.com/album-plan-b. I am a recording artist: Harrison the Artist.
- Own a company that teaches others how to create music brhythmic.com.au bRhythmic is a team of ten that teaches students drums and percussion.
Tell us about a triumph or a challenge you have experienced in doing this work?
Rae-Anne: How long have you got??
A triumph is definitely meeting our incredible team of volunteers who came with us in October, all six of them. They raised funds, got thousands of dollars in donations and building materials, tools, cement mixers, generators, clothing, linen, school books, backpacks and so much more and then flew over to give us their love, blood, sweat and tears when we began construction on the shelter last month.
Challenge – we are currently in the midst of our greatest challenge and it has been difficult to say the least. On 25th August our 40-foot container stacked fill with love, work, donations and heart set sail for Ghana. We were all going to be meeting it there, so my husband had planned to fly a week before us, clear the container and be ready for us to begin work. To our utter dismay our shipping company Hanjin went bankrupt on 31st August and all ships were abandoned while the liquidators figured out what to do next!
Hang: The biggest triumph of our work is to be able to see the impact we are making on the lives of our makers and also the women that receive the micro-loans. The biggest challenge is that the social conscious or ethical fashion movement is relatively new, I compare to what the organic food movement was 15 years ago! People are still coming around to the idea so there is a greater need to educate the market. However, on the positive side, markets in the US and Europe are further down the journey than we in Australia so there is more potential there for a concept like our business/brand.
- Releasing a 15 track album last month: PLAN B
- Growing bRhythmic from 2 people to 10 in the space of one year.
- Last week I had a 16 year old boy say “you are the best mentor I have ever had” that was pretty cool.
- People/suppliers/customers mistaking kindness for weakness
- Continually educating potential clients the difference and importance of good educators. There are a lot of “music teachers” out there that come in all sorts of varieties! So communicating the difference between paying hungover billy some cash on the side that rocks up with no shoes stinking of ciggie smoke to a trained, professional and qualified tutor, is sometimes challenging. People value music in weird ways sometimes.
- Finding people that care about my business as much as I do. They are around, but far and few between. You have to sift through the dirt sometimes to find the gold.
Why do YOU personally care about this issue, what is your WHY?
Rae-Anne: This is very personal for me and my husband. His mother was a victim of abuse, as are his sisters, cousins and millions of other women in Ghana. I have seen so many women suffer in misery and silence without help or support and it’s absolutely heart breaking. My own beautiful sister in law has had some horrific experiences that are almost too painful to imagine.
I want to give women a choice, an option and freedom to live life in safety and with independence if they choose. We plan to offer skills training, money management, literacy and numeracy, counselling and many other services as part of our future growth and I look forward to the day that I see these gorgeous women able to take care of their own needs and those of their children.
Hang: Coming from Vietnam and being able to migrate to Australia at 3 yrs old, I understand the power of Opportunity to transform a life. And when I traveled to Vietnam at 19 years old, it really hit me how lucky I was to be able to have the Opportunities I had in Australia, so it became a personal mission and responsibility to be able to share that. The idea that I could have had a different life one without opportunity made me feel very grateful but also I felt compelled to share it with my family in Vietnam and as many others as I could.
Bron: For BRhythmic: “We show people how to play music because I believe people who have music in their world have better, more fulfilling and happy lives.”
For Harrison the Artist: I truly believe that music acts as a conduit for people to process emotions not fully understood. When someone feels more understood or empathised with because of my music that is end game I reckon. What a privilege.
That’s why I care. Music brings people together.
What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur who wants to make a BIG difference, where do they start?
Rae-Anne: I do actually have other businesses as well and while this project doesn’t relate to those, my advice is the same for anything anyone wants to do. Believe that you can and will achieve whatever it is you set out to do. Ask questions, read, talk, watch and learn from as many people in as many areas as you can, don’t limit it to your own industry, learn from anyone and everyone. In fact, I try not to look too much into what people in my industry are doing as I want it to be authentically me. Everyone can be a teacher – some of my greatest lessons have been from my 5 year old grand-daughter!
Hang: I don’t think you should start with saying I want to do something that makes a difference. But start with doing something that you love and passionate about, if you do, you can’t help but to make a difference. I love this quote by Howard Thurman:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Bron: Develop strong and clear boundaries with your relationships particularly around expectations and what you charge and your policies.
When you are involved in a service industry that delivers happiness and a good feeling, many people will want discounts or things for free. Our time is our only resource, so value it. You can’t get it back once it’s gone.
How you can support Rae-Anne, Hang and Bron’s causes;
Rae-Anne’s projects www.aussieghana.com
Rae-Ann’s fundraising page www.gofundme.com/aussieghana
All the Wild Roses allthewildroses.com
Harrison the Artist is donating 100% of the income of this song to women’s shelters in Australia to help the 1 in 4 women affected by domestic violence: harrisontheartist.com/song-safe-but-alone
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