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Why Socially Conscious Fashion?

As of 2018 there were over 5.7 million businesses in operation across the UK. Of this impressive number, around 471,000 are social enterprises (that’s just over 8%). Maybe you knew this already, or maybe you didn’t, but within that 471,000 sits Circle Collective. In fact, we are both a registered charity and a social enterprise! So what is a social enterprise? And why are we so different from the other 5 million businesses across the UK?

Models pose for Circle Collective photo shoot for Ragged Priest clothing brand

Social Enterprise UK, the global leading authority on all things social enterprise, provides the following explanatory statement on the definition of a SocEnt:

‘Social enterprises are businesses that are changing the world for the better. Like traditional businesses they aim to make a profit but it’s what they do with their profits that sets them apart – reinvesting or donating them to create positive social change.  Social enterprises are in our communities and on our high streets – from coffee shops and cinemas, to pubs and leisure centres, banks and bus companies’

Let’s break that down and put that in the context of our mission here at Circle:

  • The Circle Collective works in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets. Our mission is to support young people to find sustainable, life-changing employment.
  • We have two social enterprise retail stores - one on Dalston Kingsland High Street and the other in the south side of Lewisham Shopping Mall. In these shops we stock loads of great clothes, shoes, skate decks and more, generating profit from the sale of these items to members of the local community and visiting shoppers.
  • Now, this is where things get a little different... Instead of that profit going straight into the bank account of a business owner, it is circled round and sent to Circle’s charity side.
  • The money is then used by Circle to provide our free Back Your Future programme for 16-30 year olds from the areas London we work in. This creates job opportunities, enhanced education and skills, and ultimately a better quality of life for trainees.
  • As we've seen from recent findings, this positive change to trainees’ lives has a positive knock-on effect to their families and communities. In creating opportunities for young people we can see huge potential for an increase in social cohesion across the board.

So there we have it. Up and down our high streets, searchable online, and hidden in home-offices across the UK, social enterprises are gradually changing the landscape of society, economy and business for the good.

 Circle Collective trainee speaks infront of camera in the social enterprise shop

Click here to read the full article by Social Enterprise UK