Some social entrepreneurs in the fashion space that I look up to include Style Cat, which was founded by Yuki and Nick Higson. Their newest project, Sewing Room, is made up of women who have been retrenched because of the global pandemic. My baby collection—Baby’s Own—is being made by them. Style Cat also works with inmates—Persons Deprived of Liberty—to create their handbags. They have a very strong understanding of what it means to uplift the community and meet consumer tastes and demands.
Social entrepreneurship has had a much longer history in India. There are so many incredible projects that I look up to from this part of the world. Mandala Apparels is one of them—on their website they also share their design process and supply chain. Transparency and accountability are integral to running a successful social enterprise. I do my best to keep up with new social enterprises in the fashion industry because I learn so much from them.
Another brand that inspires me is Emi and Eve. They do such beautiful storytelling; their jewellery is made from the remnants of war. It’s such a compelling and confronting project that helps raise awareness about how people rebuild and move on from a traumatic experience like war.
The Art Faculty (TAF) provides a livelihood program for Singaporean artists with special needs. Instead of treating the beneficiary as an individual living with a disability, it is the charity’s mandate to embolden them as talented artists in their own right and cultivate their creative careers through the Artist Development Programme (ADP). Situated at the Enabling Village, TAF provides a safe space for close to 60 artists while helping them earn royalties through the sale of merchandise boasting their designs.
I also love Matter Prints. Even though they are closing their doors, I think a lot of what Mei’s Own started with was inspired by Matter Prints. Their commitment to beautiful storytelling and meaningful impact changed the way I experienced fashion as a consumer. I was very intimidated by the overwhelming culture of the fashion industry and trying to find my own voice with Mei’s Own took time. Matter Prints was the first time I connected with a brand and they opened the doors to so many other projects supporting communities. They definitely served as an inspiration to me.
Rebecca Eu (@becseu) is the founder of Mei’s Own, a Singapore-based non-profit social enterprise that works with local artisans in the Philippines to create home and lifestyle products. The proceeds support education and vocational opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking in the Philippines.