Introducing: Emily De Groot – Founder of The Clothes Club

Staff

Emily with a team of Clothes Club volunteers

Emily De Groot founded The Clothes Club in January 2013. Here Emily takes us back to when it all began and talks about the motivation behind the organisation.

Take us back – where did the idea come from and how did you get started?

I have two older sisters and a younger brother and my mum was always very frugile. She’d cook amazing dinners from leftovers like chicken fricesse, after a roast, which is still a favourite. My eldest sister was 4.5 years older and we went to the same school. I’d wear her school shirts after her and at the time didn’t appreciate second hand clothing so much.

It was next reignited when I started working at Play, M&C Saatchi’s digital start up. There was a group of us who would bring clothes into work and do swaps.

A few years on and I wanted to fundraise for causes I cared about. I’d do Race for Life or Marie Curie swimathon but wanted to do a fundraising event in my own time, rather than on a certain date. So I organised the first Clothes Club event for Hackney Pirates and we raised an incredible £1,000. This helped cover some costs and we gave them £600. So that was the start in April 2013.

Did you find it difficult to get people to dig into their wardrobes and find items they wanted to swap for your first event?

We had 50 people at our first event, maybe more. It was such a great night! I had a lot of clothes I’d been saving up for it which I donated. And people bought some great items, like a fake fur coat and Chloe top. We were really impressed with what people bought and also the atmosphere.

What has been the best item / items you’ve seen at a clothes swap?

It’s tricky as I’m normally rushing around so don’t get to see the items as much as The Clothes Club team organising the items. Someone bought a Vivenne Westwood shirt, which a regular Clothes Club attendee Danii got.

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood made an appearance at our last event!

Do you have many clothes left over after the events, if so – what happens to them?

Yes we often do as people bring several items. We have a partnership with TRAID, they take the leftover items so nothing goes to landfill. So far from 6 events we’ve had +750 items go to new homes.

What has been your favourite item that you have personally swapped?

A Whistles playsuit which I’ve worn loads (thanks Eve). I always make sure I donate items in return.

Whistle's Playsuit

Whistles playsuit snapped up by Emily

Final one – what is your favourite second hand item?

My favourite item has to be stuff my Mum’s given me, like her Aussie Clark dress. It’s gorgeous. And the black clutch she gave me too which I’ve worn to a wedding.

Mum's Dress

To stay up to date with The Clothes Club events make sure you connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.

If you would like to become a Clothes Club Champion and raise money for causes you care about, please click here for more information.

 

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Introducing: Hackney Pirates

The Hackney Pirates is an enterprising charity working to develop the literacy, confidence and perseverance of young people in Hackney, so that they achieve both in school and in the world beyond.

They work with young people aged 9-12 whose teachers think they would benefit from some extra support. The Young Pirates go to their Ship of Adventures after school – it is a weird and wonderful out-of-school learning environment complete with secret passageways, an underwater cave and a ship’s cat. Here, they receive some help on their reading through targeted reading support programmes.

The Clothes Club first worked with Hackney Pirates in 2013 when we raised some funds for them at a Clothes Swap event.

Catriona Mackey – Founder of Hackney Pirates

Catriona Maclay trained as a ‘Teach First’ teacher in Edmonton. As subject leader for Citizenship she developed and implemented a school-wide active Citizenship curriculum to give young people the knowledge and practical experience they need to be informed, critical and engaged citizens. Catriona has also worked at Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, where she led the Venture programme to select and support leading social entrepreneurs in the UK. Catriona is the Captain of The Hackney Pirates, which she set up with friends and collaborators in 2010 to support young people in developing their literacy, confidence and perseverance.

On working with The Clothes Club…

When The Clothes Club contacted us it seemed like a great idea – a nice social way of bringing in some extra funds for our charity. The event had a lovely atmosphere and was run by really friendly and motivated people.

The Clothes Club raised £850 from two events for Hackney Pirates! This is a fantastic amount, and helped support our learning programme with young people. It was a really significant contribution to our work, and was also such a great example of volunteer initiative and creativity. Thanks for thinking of it in the first place, and for making it such a success! The money helped us print a guidebook the children created, the printing cost was about £5 per book and it was sold for £10.

Catriaona’s favourite piece of 2nd hand clothing

A second hand flamenco dress! (It doesn’t get used too often…)

For more information on Hackney Pirates and what they do visit www.hackneypirates.org.

Introducing: The Basket Room

We have been very fortunate over the past 3 years to work with some amazing companies who share our ethos about the power of ‘business for good’. So, we thought we would introduce some of them to you, so that you can see the people behind the brand name and join us in our admiration.

The Basket Room

The Basket Room is an ethical lifestyle brand founded by Holly Dutton and Camilla Sutton. They specialise in handwoven baskets and accessories made in Africa, working directly with weaving cooperatives in rural Kenya, Ghana & Tanzania to create stunning collections.

Holly-Dutton-Camilla-Sutton

Holly Dutton & Camilla Sutton

What made you start The Basket Room?

Holly: The Basket Room was born organically…Camilla and I and met up in London a few years after graduating to attend a talk on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It was there that we realised our mutual interests for ethical sourcing, handicrafts and Africa! I was at the time working for an African charity and Camilla had just quit her fast-paced Fashion job in London to follow her dreams of sourcing handmade accessories from East Africa. Our paths crossed at the right time in our lives, some would say it was meant to be, or fate!

How did your individual skills both help as co-founders? What strengths do you each bring?

Holly: We both worked freelance prior to forming our partnership, and have acknowledged how amazing it is to have someone to bounce ideas off, reach difficult decisions and share the work load. Setting up your own business is hard, so having two of you with complimentary skill sets has made the journey a little bit easier! Camilla’s strengths lie in production, design and sourcing, whilst mine are retail, sales and marketing. We share tasks across all areas of the business as it keeps ideas fresh and innovative.

What’s your favourite second hand item?

Holly: Mine is this Country Casuals short sleeved wool top, made here in Great Britain! Is it a jumper, a tank top?! Am not entirely sure, but I love it for the clashy colours and stripes. Easy to wear with jeans on a warm but not so hot Spring day! I picked it up at my local charity shop just a couple of weeks ago. I love to scour for individual pieces that I know I will get a lot of wear out of, as I rarely buy brand new clothes anymore and if I do then I do my best to buy ethically and responsibly.

Basket Room QA pic2

 

Camilla:  Mine is this awesome tie dye dress I found at the second hand market, or ‘Gikomba’ in Nairobi. I only buy clothes from the Gikomba markets these days, because you can find incredible garments, retro and designer pieces at really cheap prices. Most of the clothes are shipped over from the West in huge containers and many people make their living here by sorting and specialising in specific garment types, which they sell on to locals. It is sad to see such vast amounts of un-loved, hardly worn clothes in one place, and still it is tough for the East African fashion scene to compete with this Gikomba industry… hopefully one day, people will buy less, and less disposably.

 Basket Room QA pic 1

Could you tell us a bit about the communities you work with, how did that come about?

Holly: We work directly with weaving cooperatives in Kenya and Ghana and are expanding into other African countries. Camilla visited Kenya a few years ago and was introduced to a weaving community that needed access to market. The groups are often off the tourist trail and do not have the means to market themselves to a wider audience.

Most of the weavers that we work with in Africa are women, because in the traditional African setting, women were in charge of furnishing their homesteads with items like sleeping mats, baskets for harvesting as well as for storing food and such. This weaving skill was then passed down from Grandmother to Granddaughter.

In Ghana however, the weavers that we work with are also male. Most of these weavers rely on small scale subsistence farming, but due to uncertain rainfall, they have come to look towards weaving as a way of an alternative income. Some of the cooperatives make monthly savings and have been able to purchase land with the view of developing to benefit the group.

Weaving is mostly done around chores or while walking to the market or Church, so it is an effortless art that not only keeps these weavers occupied, but also enables them to make some money from a skill that’s been passed down from generation to generation.

And how does your model work to help support the weavers?

Holly: Once we identify a weaving cooperative that we would like to work with, we meet with them in person to discuss their skills and products. Quite often the whole group will attend, as it is a very important meeting for them. The chairlady, secretary and treasurer will always be present and discussions are made between the members about designs, quantities and prices. As we do not manage the weavers or employ them directly, they make collaborative decisions as a group, this benefits them greatly as they have control over the project and can not be exploited.

We also provide the groups with materials like scissors, tape measures and rulers and train them to make consistent basket sizes. If required, we will also provide dyes and mixing drums to allow larger orders to be placed.

Once an order is confirmed based on the production ability of the group, a deposit is paid upfront. This allows the weavers to buy materials needed to start production. Communications and regular visits are kept throughout the production period to ensure no errors are being made. Once the deadline is reached, the balance is paid on the order. Each weaver is then paid per piece by the chairlady, so it is in her best interests to weave well and regularly.

The higher demand we have for our baskets, the larger orders we can place with the groups and they can invite new members to join the cooperative, meaning more women are gaining a consistent income.

To view the full range and purchase from The Basket Room visit www.thebasketroom.com

Goody Bag Competition launches next week

More items added and more to come…

Our Goody Bag Competition launches next week and we have a wonderful array of prizes up for grabs, valuing in excess of £200. We’ve already revealed two lovely items: this hand knitted scarf and this amazing fair trade bike basket. Here’s two more…

Love going to festivals? You’ll love this!

Mini Magpie headband

**Mini Magpie festival headband for 2+ years

The lovely Kimberley Golding from Mini Magpie has donated a fabulous children’s festival headband worth £20. These unique upcycled items were handmade in London and no two pieces are the same.

Mini Magpie was founded in London in 2011. Kimberley started to make clothes for her baby as she didn’t want to buy new things for him. Friends then asked her to make something for them and it ‘spiralled out of control’ and into a business!  She is now saving the world one jumper at a time and also runs classes in Hackney, teaching people how to upcycle old clothes into baby and kids outfits. For more information and to view the fabulous range visit www.minimagpie.com.

**As every one of these products are unique, the headband in the goody bag will vary slightly from the picture.

Change the way you feel about exercise and workout the fun way!

Move Your Frame

2 x Move Your Frame vouchers worth £18 each.

When Pip Black and Joan Murphy set out to create Frame they wanted to create a more positive approach to health and fitness, more than just the regular gym session pounding the treadmill. All of the classes were developed on workouts and sequences that they loved themselves and had fun creating. The ‘drop in’ and pay-as-you-go Frame Card model means that anyone can rock up at a time that suits whatever your job, lifestyle or plans for the day. And the varied timetable over several studios means you can always find a class to suit your mood.

Known for their feel-good, energetic and fun-filled classes. You can sweat it out with a high-intensity Signature Class; dance, shake and party like it’s 1999; or get zen with a restorative workout for the mind. You can fill up on healthy snacks and smoothies at Frame’s Fuel cafe or browse the best fitness clothing at the Frame shop. Frame is your one stop shop for all things health and fitness and has studios in King’s Cross, Queen’s Park, Shoreditch and Victoria. For more details visit https://moveyourframe.com/.

The competition launches next week and more items will be revealed over the next few days, along with full details of the competition – make sure you don’t miss your chance to enter by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Goody Bag Competition – new prize added

We gave you a sneak preview of the first item to go into our Goody Bag Competition last week and we are delighted to show you this second item kindly donated by The Basket Room.

The Basket Room 1

You could be in with a chance to add a splash of colour and style to your bike with this unique, fair trade basket accessory. Ideal for small shopping trips, a cycle around town, study books and picnics!

This beautiful basket, worth £69, is part of the signature collection and was designed in-house by The Basket Room and handwoven by their partner weaving cooperative in Northern Ghana.

Woven from the wild veta vera grass, each basket goes through a detailed process from harvesting, rolling, dyeing and finally weaving. Dyes are natural, often extracted from tree barks and vegetables. Buying this basket directly supports the weavers to increase their livelihoods and become less dependent on self-sufficiency farming, which is very unreliable during the dry seasons. Each bike basket comes with a thank you card from the cooperative who made your basket. Meet the weavers from Ghana here.

This amazing collection is available to view at: http://www.thebasketroom.com/collections/bike-baskets

There will be more items added soon, along with full details of the competition – so make sure you don’t miss your chance to enter by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

The Clothes Club Goody Bag Competition

Sneak Preview

Hand knitted scarf up for grabs

We will shortly be launching a competition on our Facebook and Twitter pages for a fabulous goody bag, full of wonderful delights kindly donated by various suppliers and partners. Here’s the first preview of one of the goody bag items.

Why would I need a scarf in Spring you may ask? Well this is Great Britain, with the not so great weather producing snow and hail only last week. And if the weather is kind enough to behave itself, you can always stash it away until the winter months approach. Plus, this is not just any scarf…

Hand knitted scarf

Super soft hand knitted scarf

This super soft hand-knitted scarf was donated by Birdsong – a clothing range for women who expect more from their wardrobe. Birdsong finds the best female makers and brings them to you, no sweatshops, no photoshop. They source fairly made fashion, from chitenge-printed bomber jackets to quirky bone jewellery. Each purchase gives 50-85% back to the women who made it, from groups in Malawi to seamstresses on Brick Lane.

The scarf was crafted at The Bradbury day centre by Edna. The expert knitters meet once a week over a chat and cup of tea. The ladies donate profits from their scarves to the centre, allowing them to welcome in more of London’s older people.

Watch this space for more goody bag items and details of the competition, which will launch within the next month.  Make sure you don’t miss your chance to enter by following us on Twitter and Facebook.