How Jollie’s Socks is socking it to homelessness

Jollies-socks-The-Big-IssueVendor Spotlight: Jollie’s Socks

Socks are essentials that are often taken for granted – but take a moment to imagine walking a mile in a homeless person’s shoes and you’ll view them in a different light.

That’s what Ed Vickers realised while he was volunteering at a homeless shelter in Exeter as he completed a bioscience degree at the city’s university in 2012.

Jollies Socks For The Homeless

Fast forward six years and he is the founder of Jollie’s Socks – a social enterprise with a simple ethos. For every pair of their colourfully patterned and ethically manufactured unisex socks sold they send a pair to a homeless shelter near you.

Jollie’s work with 26 shelters from all around the country from Aberdeen to Winchester so you can be sure that when you receive your recyclable tin complete with a pair of hardy hiking socks, so will someone who desperately needs them.

“I noted that socks were the most needed product and the idea stemmed from there really,” said Ed, whose products have become a Big Issue Shop favourite.

“I wanted to see if it would work as a social business. I wanted to take something that the consumer loves in socks and use it to start a conversation about homelessness.

Jollies socks in bulk

“We’re making a move to go online with a select few retail partners. We have always had such a big love of The Big Issue. I have always bought the magazine and it’s amazing to be able to partner up with them and partner with that brand because to us it’s perfection.”

Now 26, Ed is sharing the ‘wear a pair, share a pair’ but the success of the growing social enterprise has not distracted the young social entrepreneur from the core mission he set out to complete six years ago.

The Big Issue and Jollies Socks

He added: “It’s amazing to see people benefit from the socks. The main thing is we can take time to explain to people what our mission is and it’s great to see people enjoy Jollie’s socks in homeless shelters.”

See the Jollie’s Socks collection in The Big Issue Shop here.

Limited Edition T-Shirts With Pure Evil

Pure-Evil-Limited-Edition-T-Shirt

#WearABigIssue Limited Edition Pure Evil T-Shirts 

Blending street art and social change, the #WeAreABigIssue and Pure Evil collaboration is limited edition and consists of two specially-designed t-shirts. Available in white or grey with yellow and white or grey with purple, Pure Evil – real name Charles Uzzell Edwards – donated his time and creativity to help create the latest in ultra-ethical fashion.

Edwards was born in Wales but his inspirations span the globe, having previously established himself in the Californian sun of San Francisco. Most familiar with urban art tools like spray paint, neon, steel, stencils and screen printing, Pure Evil settled in London where he set up a gallery – exhibiting the work of more than 60 artists so far.

The artist previously told The Telegraph: “If I’d really thought about how to run an art gallery, it would probably have put me off. If you go into it thinking, ‘Oh, I’m in this space, I’d better paint the walls and pay the electricity bill,’ then you’ve pretty much got a gallery going. You can worry about the logistics later on.”

Pure-Evil-TShirt

The Big Issue’s own clothing brand has worked closely with EarthPositive®, a manufacturer whose t-shirts are produced using only sustainable energy generated from wind and solar power. Their mission is to promote awareness of and take action on climate change in what is one of the most environmentally damaging industries in the world. The artwork is printed on 100% organic, ethically traded cotton.

Launched in 1991, The Big Issue works to create the opportunity for homeless and disadvantaged people to earn an income through magazine street sales. In the 27 years since, more than 200 million copies have been sold by 100,000 people. The magazine is bought upfront by vendors for £1.25 each and sell them on for £2.50 – creating their own micro-enterprise.

Those who share Pure Evil’s ethos, “principles before profit”, can find limited edition collaboration online in The Big Issue Shop – guilt-free spending in the knowledge that proceeds will go to help marginalised people all over the country.

 

Vendor Spotlight: Mini Stitches

Mini-Stitches-Employees

Vendor Spotlight: Mini Stitches

Pantaloons, playsuits and ra ra skirts – these might not be the first words which come to mind when the subject of women’s empowerment arises, but think again.

Innovative children’s clothing brand Mini Stitches are showing how to use business to nurture a diverse community, all while dealing in soft stripes and geometric prints.

The East London social enterprise empowers disadvantaged women in the area by providing employment, training and English classes. Each Mini Stitches item is unisex and produced largely by Bangladeshi women from Tower Hamlets in East London, with up to 75 per cent unemployment in their community.

Responding to a growing demand for ethically-produced clothing in the UK, the charity designs on-trend kids’ clothing and reinvests the profits straight back into the services they offer.

Using only ethically-sourced materials and fabrics in the manufacture of their contemporary collection, Mini Stitches was born out of charity Stitches in Time which has been behind creative projects in the area for 20 years.

With clothes made to last,  their quality garments are crafted to be passed from generation to generation – further reducing the waste produced by their small-scale operation.

 

But while the team behind Mini Stitches is pioneering a fresh vision in the fashion world, their goals extend well beyond industry parameters.

Women’s self-development is the name of the game at Mini Stitches. The social enterprise was carefully designed to tackle the root causes of unemployment among Bangladeshi women in the area such as a lack of work experience and too few qualifications.

As well as receiving industry-standard training,  their female workforce are also given access to English classes, I.T. support and mentoring opportunities. The collaborative space also helps women build confidence and set personal goals while fostering relationships in their community.

“As this community-made, children’s clothing brand develops and grows, so does the women’s ambitions, self-belief and sense of achievement,” said director of enterprise and outreach Katie Adkins.

“Seeing how much they are capable of, individually and collectively, has allowed many women to see their dreams as attainable.”

Mini Stitches also flies the flag for transparency and sustainability – explaining each step of their pricing to potential customers and making the move to hand-woven, environmentally-friendly materials.

Next time a kids’ clothing catalogue is popped through your letterbox, consider setting it aside and browsing Mini Stitches in The Big Issue Shop instead.

 

 

 

Vendor Spotlight: Hey Girls

Expensive, essential and – for many – a cause of embarrassment, stark figures illustrate the extent of period poverty in the UK.

Increasingly recognised as a public health issue, women’s rights group Plan International UK says 1 in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products and 12 per cent have improvised – using socks, rags and toilet roll. Additionally, 137,700 girls missed at least one day of school last year because they couldn’t afford menstrual products.

Amid a groundswell of opposition around the affordability of period products one revolutionary campaigner front and centre of the fight – and now working with the Scottish Government – is Celia Hodson, from Dunbar in East Lothian.

With first-hand experience of the financial strain women across the country are experiencing, Hodson, with help from her two daughters, founded social enterprise Hey Girls, which sells sanitary towels on a ‘buy one give one model’ – meaning for every pack purchased, another is donated to a woman in need.

“It all started with a heated discussion between myself and my two daughters that results in a big hairy audacious goal,” Hodson told The Big Issue. “We simply wanted to work out if we could fix period poverty and what that would look like.”

The enterprise smartly bridges the gap between activism and retail, and since launching in January has achieved outstanding success. Hey Girls is a key partner in the Scottish Government’s period poverty roll-out – chairing round table events on the issue and donating towards the free provision of products to an estimated 18,800 Scottish women.

The enterprise is also the recipient of a £50,000 investment and mentorship from Big Issue Invest’s Power Up Scotland programme, a move that has helped bolster the social enterprise’s ability to grow.

And now we’re welcoming Hey Girls to The Big Issue Shop!

Hey-Girls

The no leak, super comfy, chlorine and bleach-free, environmentally friendly sanitary towels are available as a multipack including two boxes of Daytime and two Night time natural bamboo pads.

Shop Hey Girls at The Big Issue Shop now

Vendor Spotlight: Just Trade

By now we’re all aware of fair trade. Fair trade gives you the power to change the world every day just from being a little more savvy when picking up your shopping. But for a long time, it also covered simply providing a fair wage to workers.

Now, enterprises like Just Trade are here to say that fair trade is so much more than just a fair wage. Their collaborative business approach means it cultivates long-lasting relationships with its artisans. Combining traditional craft skills with expert knowledge, every piece of Just Trade jewellery is handmade using locally-sourced materials from eight groups based in Peru, Ecuador, India and Vietnam. You can shop their collection at The Big Issue Shop!

This handmade hammered gold plated bangle was made by the women in the Flowering Desert Project in Tamil Nadu, India.

While this handmade cosmetic case made from screen-printed linen comes from a World Fair Trade Organisation registered factory in Vietnam that employs over 100 marginalised workers from Hanoi and the surrounding areas to make textiles.

Coming from economically disadvantaged communities, each of these makers receives not only a fair wage for their work, but training opportunities and fair conditions too.

Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like a business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“To be honest, that’s the only reason I do it,” he says. “I go out there every three or four months and that has been since uni when I was spending all my student loan on flights out there every five or six months.

“I’ve seen kids growing up and have their own children thanks to the work we do. I love spending time there and I think that the really valuable thing is where we support people to run their own business and build their own lives.”

While Elephant Branded faces a constant battle to find new recyclable materials – with a struggle to find a waste material available in high volume that doesn’t vary in quality and consistency – it is constantly attempting to innovate with new products on the way.

But the original three ranges of products are available in The Big Issue Shop.

“As well as the exposure, I think working with The Big Issue adds a degree of credibility,” says James.

“Just like how it is wrong for me to Cambodia and tell people what to do and how to run their business, The Big Issue gives vendors a chance to work their way out of poverty.

“And I think that people who buy The Big Issue have the same ethos and concerns as we do. I’ve met a family in Cambodia that I would never have had a chance to meet and that’s where I see the synergy with The Big Issue.”