We recently had the pleasure of meeting Karina of the 52 Week Love Project (datelicious.com.au) a blog with the mission to “recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.”
Read the full interview between Karina and Kelly, Silent Arrow Founder, below.
MEET: KELLY BARRETT – FOUNDER OF SILENT ARROW
HER MOTTO IS SIMPLE: ‘TRUST LIFE’
‘LIVING WITH GRACE IS A MUCH MORE PEACEFUL AND SUCCESSFUL WAY TO LIVE’
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
I have always felt a bit embarrassed that I loved fashion and no matter how much I am interested in the environment, social equity and making a difference I still was doing a job that didn’t really help people.
I have always donated a lot to organisations and people via PIF FB, but I always felt too time poor to dedicate enough hours to make a difference to organisations that need support. During Christmas 2015 I was in a position where I had excess stock – thousands of pieces – so I donated it hoping I would help but wasn’t sure how useful it was. Some of the styles weren’t appropriate to all age groups, nor super comfortable, but this wasn’t something I had control over. Anyway, I donated a lot to a foster teenage organisation and the feedback I got back set me on a new trajectory. They were overwhelmed by the donation and spoke of these girls never having new underwear as they didn’t have continuity of care and how it affected their self-esteem.
At that moment I realised I could use the skills I have to help people! All women need underwear, we can’t get by without them and sometimes these are a luxury purchase, even for the basics.
A few months later I decided it was time I did my own label, so I made sure that I was able to generate donations consistently. I don’t want to start a charity, that isn’t my skill, but I wanted to support them by supplying this essential item. So, every single item purchased generates another pair of undies to donate, there is no cap this way. Most orders consist of 3 items, so 3 pairs of comfy cotton undies are usually donated every time someone buys from us.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
‘I design lingerie that has a social enterprise element. I knew I couldn’t donate as much as I wanted on my own, it needed to be built into my dream business’.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU?
‘That Christmas word got out about the donations and I received an email from the Pacific Rape Crisis Centre requesting lots and lots of underwear, they said they needed clean new undies to give to women to wear home, I cried. Women are suffering out there, they have nowhere to go and very little support. Women that leave domestic abuse often leave with only the clothes on their back. Many homeless women I have met have become homeless due to domestic abuse and they really appreciate the support. To be clear, I set this business up, but I can’t donate without the support of our customers, it really is them that makes this happen.’
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
‘That’s a good question…when I bounced my idea off of people before launching no one was supportive of it. There were a lot of open mouths and suggestions of ‘Just a pair per ‘order’ not per item, your prices aren’t high enough’. It did throw me, but then I had to reflect back on my values and the answer was clear; it was too important to compromise, and I was not going to let those women down. Having been quite poor when I was younger I also wasn’t willing to increase my prices. I was determined that the range was accessible, not elite. Why should you have to have lots of money to wear something beautiful?’
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE/CHANGE IN THE WORLD?
‘If you have the idea and the passion you can do it. The world needs new ways of thinking to solve our issues and new ideas are often not well received. Be careful who you share it with, treasure it and build it without exposing it to negativity too early. Most people will not understand or share your vision, don’t look for permission you probably will never get it. Find ways to give permission and support to yourself.’
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE OR EXPRESSION THAT YOU LIVE BY?
‘I’m quite strong-minded and determined, but I have realised over the years that living with grace is a much more peaceful and successful way to live. I try not to push things that don’t seem meant to be for me, but that doesn’t mean being lazy, sometimes things take a lot of work but if things are constantly not working then it’s definitely time to reassess.’
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO?
‘I have 3 children, so when I’m not working I am with them trying to always balance life!
I’d like to somehow get involved in solutions to low-cost housing. I have been thinking about how I could use my super to invest in housing. People need housing solutions now and waiting for the government to solve it is not working, if it could be made into a good investment and attract a lot of people it could be a win-win and something that could be replicated over and over.
I’m also super interested in waste. My new FU too range is made from recycled nylon and our inner bags for the factory we are buying compostable corn bags, corn that is not going to be used for food. I’m working on the whole lingerie range being recycled nylon, recycled polyester foam and recycled elastic…it is a work in progress, in a year my goal is that it is 100% recycled.’
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP/GET INVOLVED?
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