A Conversation with Will Kirsop of Society&Co
In August, we introduced you to Society&Co, an apparel company run by friends Matt and Will that benefits at-risk Indigenous Australian children through their social and environmental programs. This past October, Society&Co launched a new women’s apparel line and introduced their followers to new impact programs that allow them to improve their efforts heading into 2017. I got a chance to chat with Will about all of the new additions to the company.
For our new readers who may have missed our original article on Society&Co, could you briefly describe how Society&Co came to be and why you chose to help at risk youth?
Society&Co began in late 2013 when two friends, Matt and Will, met up in Portugal and had deep discussions about social and environmental change. Two years later, Society&Co launched as a social business with our inaugural fashion item - the Scholar Tee - from which 100% of profits were used to create a perpetual educational scholarship.
Today, our fashion line extends to 13 items and our impact is focused on Four Pillars; four areas that we believe are key to the future of the world, which are Education, Social Justice, Health and the Environment.
As you mentioned, you recently expanded your impact program to include the Four Pillars: Education, Social Justice, Health and the Environment. Can you please describe how each of these areas work with your Impact Fund?
The best explanation is through the infographic (below). In essence:
100% of the profits from our fashion apparel are invested in our Impact Fund, which is professionally managed by Australian Ethical Investments
The Fund generates income each year, whilst the principal remains untouched and continues to grow.
The income is distributed to our Impact Partners as annual grants
Our customers can now choose their Impact when purchasing apparel based on the cause that means the most to them. They can choose their impact out of our Four Pillars, or a split between all four!
Why were these the areas that you felt needed the most help as far as funding and social awareness?
We believe that everybody deserves an equal opportunity to live, learn and flourish - regardless of who they are, where they're from or how much money they have. In order to continue creating opportunity for future generations the global population needs to adapt a more sustainable way of living. Our current approach is taking a serious toll on the environment. Sustainability isn’t an option - it's a must.
Providing equality of opportunity is central to our ethos and we believe this stems from educational opportunities. Three of our four Impact Partners provide educational opportunities (in language and literacy, mental health awareness and education, and in paid hospitality traineeships and work). The environment is also dear to us, and we feel that it’s our responsibility to help address the environmental concerns of today and work towards creating sustainable solutions for the future.
Part of your Impact Fund includes the help of Impact Partners. How did you decide which companies you would partner with? How have these partners influenced your program?
Our Impact Partners were founded through both warm introductions from our network as well as through our own research. We’ve spent considerable time evaluating our Impact Partners’ work to ensure that they’re making real, tangible change and fulfilling their mission.
All of our Impact Partners are grassroots organizations that are true to their core purpose and are continually expanding their work and their reach. They’ve influenced our offering, as you can now Choose Your Impact when you shop Society&Co based on our Four Pillars. This has already had a great response and Citizens of Society&Co are finding it highly engaging choosing their impact based on the cause that means the most to them. Better still, it’s inspiring conversations about the different areas of our work, as well as helping drive more awareness and engagement in driving social and environmental change.
The apparel line has also recently grown to incorporate a women’s line. What caused you to want to create a women’s line? Take us through the design process leading up to the release.
Given that around two thirds of our audience is women, it was a no brainer to develop a women’s range. We felt it was crucial for us to develop a product that was fashionable, resonated with our audience, and spoke to what our brand represents.
The process involved much more research, product ideation, and planning than for our other items. Our Creative Manager, Kat, helped lead the charge with our women’s range, which included experimentation with a variety of different items, as well as discussions around design. Ultimately, we decided to continue our signature embroidered logo into the women’s range and selected American Apparel as the manufacturer, given the quality and popularity of their garments.
This new line also featured in your first ever lookbook. How was that experience? Why did you decide to introduce your new line in this way?
Our lookbook was conceived, directed, and executed by Nathan McGuire, Face of Society&Co, and a model with Viven’s. Nathan wanted to really capture the look and the feel of Society&Co and had the ability to draw on his network, as well as his creative expertise, to make this possible.
For us, it was really exciting to shoot all of our products with different outfits and styles, and to really capture the essence of our brand - our positive and inspiring ethos - through the lens of a camera, which we have since communicated through our lookbook.
Our community will definitely want to get involved with your mission. How can they get involved with your program? Where can they find you online to keep up to date with your impact progress and new apparel releases?
The best way to get involved is by making your impact felt by purchasing apparel, and in doing so, becoming a Citizen of Society&Co! Secondly, follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and to be kept up to date with our impact progress and new apparel - ‘join the movement’ (which subscribes you to our awesome updates) here.
Finally, if you have any ideas, specific things you’d like to offer, or people who you’d like to introduce us to, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your support is what enables our impact, thank you!