Our workroom has seen an interesting year. At certain points, Joss (our brilliant production manager) could be seen wielding a circular saw and gliding through layers of donated fabric. There was elastic strewn across sewing machine, textiles being pulled through the overlocker at breakneck speeds and sewing technicians putting the sewing pedal to the floor - but there was a good reason for the hustle and bustle.
At the height of the pandemic in Australia, there were many that did not have the choice to work from home or to avoid public transport - and while other fashion businesses were pivoting to mask production, the thought of profiting off of the situation left us feeling uncomfortable, to say the least.
It was then that we developed the B1-G1 initiative. For each mask sold we decided we would donate one to someone in need. We've now donated 3000 of our B1-G1 Face Masks to individuals from vulnerable communities, thanks to the help of our amazing charity partners.
Here are just some of the charity partners through which we've distributed our donated masks:
It was through these incredible organisations that we were able to distribute face masks to communities that were among some of the most adversely affected by the pandemic - some face masks were distributed directly and some we provided through food packs or care packs. Many masks went to women's refuge centres, such as:
- Wirawee Aboriginal Women's Refuge (WCDVS)
- Blacktown Women's Refuge (WCDVS)
- Katoomba Women's Refuge (WCDVS)
- The Marian Centre, Leichhardt
- Bonnie's Support Services
And many of the masks were donated to crisis clients, clients in families, clients in transitional families and were included in client moving packs organised for those moving into social housing.
Here are some of the lovely messages that were communicated back to us from individuals who received the masks:
"They fit really well... thank you to the clever people that made them" - WAGEC client*
"I normally don't like to wear masks, but this one is so comfortable and beautiful... I love it!" - Holly*
"Wow these masks are great, they fit well and make me feel safe and so generous of The Social Outfit" - Yasmin*
*Names changed for privacy purposes
Not only did the face mask initiative support vulnerable communities - it also allowed us to support the employment of more sewing technicians from refugee and migrant backgrounds in a time when employment and jobs were on a downturn.
During the period, we were able to employ and pay 4 new sewers - Khalida, Han, Lina and Mun Mun, most of whom we'd previously engaged in our free sewing classes - to help us respond to the demand for face masks. From there, we've now transitioned one of those sewers into full-time employment for the Australian Navy and two others have been offered ongoing fixed-term employment with us!
We achieved one more employment outcome, providing Hani the opportunity to be our retail assistant looking after our face masks pop-up at Sydney Airport!
All of this amazing work could not have been possible without our fantastic community - from the industry partners who donated remnant and end-of-roll fabrics we used to manufacture the face masks such as Publisher Textiles, Cue, Citizen Wolf, Good Day Girl to the charity partners through which we distributed the donated masks, such as Women and Girls Emergency Centre (WAGEC), the Aboriginal Medical Centre in Redfern, OzHarvest and many more, we thank you for your instrumental support in helping us make a difference.
But most importantly, a huge thank you to ALL OF YOU. Every customer who purchased a mask (or five!) - whether in-store or online, if you liked our posts, shared our posts, or posted your own fabulous pic rocking our masks - it's only through your generosity that we have been able to achieve such an incredible result with our B1-G1 program. So, once again, THANK YOU.
Our B1-G1 initiative is on-going, but we also recognise the importance of accessibility, which is why we are now offering our face masks with and without the B1-G1 option online and in-store. By purchasing our 3-layer face masks, you provide employment for refugee and new migrant sewing technicians, help divert textile waste from landfill and play your part to keep the community safe & healthy - which sounds pretty good to us!⠀
Grab your own 3-Layer Face Mask here!