Best Projects 2021 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Unify Hoodies. Using popular clothing to spark positive change in the field of knife crime.
Published on July 16, 2021 um 09:19
Type of Enterprise
Year the ngo or company was founded
Explain your project in details:
It is impossible to deny that across Britain, knife crime is rapidly on the rise. It is also hard not to notice that as casualties rise, so do the number of young people involved. Despite the extensive media coverage on this topic, we as a company feel that many of these young individuals are going unheard. We also believe that in order to start tackling knife crime, we need to recognise that the mental health effects of it are ongoing: recovering from trauma is a long-term process, and simply cannot be captured by a statistic in the morning news. This is where we as a company come in. Unify strives to use hoodies to amplify these voices, and to educate communities about these long-term mental health effects. For many young people, hoodies are a comfortable wardrobe staple that can be worn anytime and anywhere. The company aims to use this popularity to its advantage. On the front of each hoodie there is an image, either related to a victim of knife crime or to an integral aspect of England's knife crime epidemic such as poor mental health. Next to this there is a QR code, which when scanned by passers-by, leads to our website that contains a blog and an interactive page. Here, people can learn about knife crime and share their thoughts and personal connections to the topic. We hope that this will encourage young people to speak out and to fight for change. Thanks to the QR code, even a walk wearing the hoodie could help spread our message to people across London Britain, and beyond. During lockdown, we helped vulnerable communities, creating personalised cards for care homes, donating spare hoodies and Easter eggs to the NHS, and running an e-mail chat service for individuals who felt lonely.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Thus far, we have been very successful. Our outreach ranges from schools, to universities, to the wider British and international community. We have run awareness workshops in schools, directed a successful video advertising campaign, and encouraged young people to acknowledge the state of their mental health through a 30-day challenge on our Instagram. We also partnered with charities including Victory Youth Group and Paint the Change Global, who use designs created by young people to paint the walls of London, New York and beyond with key social issues. We have grown our outreach through the use of QR codes on our business cards and the side of each hoodie, which passersby can scan and easily find our website and learn about mental health and knife crime on our interactive page. In the Young Enterprise competition, Unify won the regional round as well as best advertising and best overall company in the London round. This allowed us to progress to the national final, joining the 13 other teams out of over 700 who also made it. We measure our success by not only our growth on social media and our profit margin (everything is donated to charities who tackle knife related violence), but also by the increased awareness we bring to communities. This is essential for communities where knife crime may not be as prevalent, and therefore teaching them about this important issue as well as how to have increased self-awareness and self-love was something that we saw as a success. We know that if young people can take the time to understand their own mental health, they may be less hateful towards others, which may eventually contribute to less violence.
Sustainability and future plans
Our financial strategy involved four main steps: 1) Fundraising-most of our fundraising took place within school and the local community. We used events such as sports matches to sell tea and coffee to guests and sold sweets and colourful stress balls as an interim product to junior schools. Whilst we kept most of our money in our HSBC business account, we ensured that we always had some cash and coins at hand to use as float in our sales. 2) Raising share capital-we collected £450 in share capital. 3) Collecting presale payments-when deciding how to structure our company we realised that given the high price of producing hoodies, we would need to collect presales in order to purchase our product. We made over £1,000 which meant we were able to order 60 black hoodies and 60 white hoodies in sizes XS-XXL (this included all presale orders and around 5 extra of each hoodie which we placed on our website's online store and Depop) 4) Buying our stock-before ordering our hoodies we made a mockup our design, experimenting with placement and size of the images on a mannequin. We then bought two sample hoodies from the manufacturers to check that they were of an extremely high quality, which they were. In the future, we plan to release more hoodies based off different themes to the other two (the first hoodie being about the mental health impacts of knife crime, the second about self-love), and to eventually create a network of young people across Britain who are not afraid to be vocal on this topic. We hope people will feel comfortable sharing their experiences and that this will help to eventually build a better society for all. As our company slogan suggests, we believe that this must happen One step at a time.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I am an 18-year-old student from London and the CEO of Unify. When starting Unify, I knew that I wanted to raise awareness for knife crime and its mental health effects, particularly after reading the story of and then personally speaking to Alika Ajidi-Jeffs, a man who suffers from bipolar disorder and other emotional trauma after losing to two of his friends to knife violence. Having always been passionate about fashion and graphic design since a young age, I soon realised that I could use this for business. Shortly after, I started learning how to use photoshop, and several months later, Unify was born. I believe that this love for creativity has been critical to the company's business model. Whenever I have an idea for a potential design, I immediately draw it in rough so that I can come back and develop it later. Since its inception, I have also made sure that I am responding to the demands for the consumer through careful research. I regularly conduct consumer surveys about designs and quotes for the hoodies. I also made sure to find a high-quality hoodie manufacture that could also generate a profit margin people wearing the hoodies daily and spreading Unify's message is a fundamental component of the business, and therefore I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible.
A stall we ran at Spitalfields Market in London