Here at the fox, we get the chance to meet a lot of fabulous people who are doing, and creating, amazing things.
This month we got to spend a few minutes with the lovely Robyn from Gifted Hands. One of our newer brands instore, we can't keep up with the demand for their re-usable justice bags. They are not only great designs and extremely strong and durable(holding up to 10kgs!), but 100% of their profits from the bags go to charities who support women and children who have experienced abuse, trafficking, homelessness or are in vunerable situations.
.........much respect Robyn.
- What made you get into this? Do you have a personal connection with one of your chosen charities? Would love to know what began the idea in your mind.
Gifted Hands started fundraising around nine years ago when a work colleague and I saw a need where funds were required. We didn’t have money to give but thought of making and selling items. We ran a stall outside my home and sold homemade cushions, wooden items and jewellery. We raised $180.
We went on from there having friends who opened their homes and invited people to come and we made tea, coffee and cakes etc. whilst they shopped.
Another need arose when one of our work colleagues was treated for a brain tumour and had a huge medical bill. We held our first high tea. Until this year, we have catered and served for a least one high tea a year with the focus on a specific project or for a charity. We have had and still have market stalls where we sell our Justice Bags, jewellery, scarves etc. though we are finding we are cutting back on these because of time constraints. We’ve held cooking classes, open houses – we’ve had a go! We have found that ladies love to help and also it has given them an opportunity to use their talents in cooking, sewing, serving and helping in various ways. Hence the name, Gifted Hands.
The Justice Bag idea came from one of my daughters. Initially we only sold them at our events. After a period of time we thought everyone had had enough of the product so we stopped selling them.
After we’d had a couple of large, time-consuming events, we thought we would try again but focus and push the product. Changing the name from Eco-bag to Justice Bag really cemented our goal of letting people know what we were about and it took off from there.
Australians are amazing givers and there are a lot of charities doing fantastic work. We felt if we could sell a product (our Justice Bags) and use the profits to help others, people are giving and receiving something in return. We wanted to create a win/win situation.
- What charities do you support?
Gifted Hands supports various charities both nationally and internationally. Our main emphasis is women and children who are poor, needy or vulnerable.
How did you choose what charities to support?
We decided to raise funds to give to the organisations that are at the coal face working in often difficult situations that don’t get government or very little funding. Some of the organisations we deal with the majority of the staff are voluntary. We do have contacts in the organisations, some we know personally.
What has motivated us - when we heard that
- Every 26 seconds a child is trafficked, most sold into slavery
- A young man, Fred, in Kenya caring and providing for 27 street boys, who would never have a chance of being part of a family needed financial support
- An organisation that has a 12 month live-in program for teenagers hooked on drugs
- Mothers who are stuck in addiction to drugs/alcohol with kids separated from them
- Ashadash who needed funds to put clean gas burners in dwellings in the slum area of Kolkata. Most burn whatever they can find with harmful effects on people exposed to it
we wanted to do something to help.
- Do you get to see what a difference your contributions make?
YES. We have heard of girls rescued from trafficking, we have gone to graduations of women leaving rehabilitation, we have heard of babies we have supported in the Adopt-A-Cot program in an orphanage in Nairobi being adopted out. We have sponsored an organisation that has successfully won campaigns against the sexualisation of women to name a few. Our contributions together with others who have given and those working in the organisations make the difference to lives which otherwise would have no hope.
We are very conscious of who we support because the public have supported our enterprise and we want to make sure our profits are used effectively. Every dollar is earnt, so we are protective and want to ensure that the money is used effectively. It is not easy come – easy go!
- Do you have a particular vision for where you’d like to see this idea end up?
I guess the ‘need, injustice’ is the vision. If we can see one life changed – it is important to that one life.
I would like to maybe employ someone eventually as this is all done on a voluntarily basis from home. My daughter would love to see it as a global brand. She lives in Edinburgh and has started The Justice Brand over there.
- Is there a special goal you want to attain money-wise or something specific you’re aiming to achieve for a charity?
I would love to see this social enterprise be able to say we have given away one million dollars in our lifetime. To achieve this would be awesome. I think as we grow we will become more focused on specific projects that we can let everyone know who supports us that this is what we have achieved – together.
- Any advice for other business owners wishing to do this type of thing but who maybe don’t know where to start or don’t do it because it seems too daunting?
I think you need to have compassion – identifying with the need - then passion to carry it through.
Get others involved with the same heart because they will bring their ideas and talents.
Just go for it – in life you are better to have a go than not do anything at all.
- We are grateful to shop owners who support us by providing a spot in their shop for our Justice Bags.
- To shop owners / staff who have promoted our product and sold it because of its social justice issues.
- For those who have purchased a Justice Bag
- We may never meet – but together we have made a difference to someone else’s life.
- For Enhance Accessories for allowing us to have a stand at trade shows. Through this action, we have been able to promote and meet store owners.
we love a brand with a social conscience. together we can all make a difference.
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