Project_Sweat all started on the yoga mat, or to be precise, in the changing room after an intensive vinyasa class. Rushing back to work, I usually stuffed my soaking top in a canvas shopper or plastic bag; at best it would just smell all day or worse it would slowly soak the contents of my backpack.
Working in social enterprise I knew that every problem can be turned into an opportunity. Surely, I was not alone in my wish for using fewer plastic bags, or enjoying a watertight solution for my sweaty workout gear. But this in itself could never be enough. Project_Sweat was founded on the simple idea that a better kit bag could make a world of difference.
This is how I described my take on social enterprise when I met up Marie McMillan Guy, Head of Innovation and Business at London’s Central Saint Martins. It wasn’t long after that we decided to embark on a collaborative project which would ‘bring art out and experience in’ to the walls of the school.
To tell the story of the art created inside the walls of CSM, we chose to work with the luxurious and ingeniously designed fabrics of the textile BA course students. Every one of their pieces was ready to be hung in the galleries of London, or fit to be sold on the shelves of Selfridges, and our product was going to be simple, serving as a canvas for their art.
When we got to work we started with two promising female graduates, Anna Schlimm and Georgia Fleck, both with a very different approach to design and the first collection was born: a series of luxurious sports bags to store your gym kit or swimwear after your exercise. This collection is the first of a long range of designs created by young talent from the academy, creating new products and showcasing their skills, whilst re-investing profits to support emerging talent.
Empowering women through education lies at the heart of our mission.
To substantiate this, we partnered up with the Asian University for Women. Their initiative, Pathways for Promise, identifies high-potential clothing factory workers and provides them with the academic and financial support they need to become the next future leaders. They shared the mission to empower women in the fashion supply chain, and so fitted Project_Sweat perfectly.
Soon the circle was complete, and the first product was being shipped. Designed by women, for women, to support women.