Jo Salter took part in our 2015 programme, Cool 10. It was a five-month course of action learning tailored to individuals wanting to start a green/eco social enterprise or charity.
What does your social enterprise do?
Where Does It Come From? is a clothing brand with a difference – our garments are all completely traceable. Our strap-line is ‘Cool Clothes that Tell Tales’ because our customers can find out the creation story of any of our ethical, environment friendly garments, by way of a code supplied on the label.
We have provided work so far for over 300 artisans in the Gujarat area where block printing is a traditional skill. These people tend to be in the lowest social classes such as farmers, spinners, weavers and other fabric related professions.
Why are you passionate about this cause?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel passionate about injustice! One thing that really spoke to me was many years ago on a TV fundraiser when a lady being interviewed said to camera ‘It is just luck you know, that you were born there and I was born here’ and that really stuck with me.
I worked for a large corporate business and took part in promotional events where t-shirts were designed and produced just to be worn for a few days. The t-shirts were then discarded which seemed a total waste!
What was your biggest challenge in starting your social enterprise?
The main challenge on start-up was finding suppliers who could fulfil my stringent requirements for traceability. Where Does It Come From? traces the product all the way back to the farm where the cotton was grown, right through all the processes until shipment.
How has the School for Social Entrepreneurs supported you?
Being in a room with a bunch of inspiring, determined entrepreneurs who want to make the world a better place is a wonderfully positive and sharing experience. Add to that experienced speakers to educate us in key business skills plus a selection of driven individuals who have already travelled further along the path that we are treading. The SSE programme acts as fertiliser to the seeds of ideas, leading to growth and hopefully harvest!
For me, the most valuable part has been meeting my colleagues on the programme. Being an entrepreneur – especially an ethical one – can be lonely. The support, enthusiasm and friendships that evolved in my time with SSE were hugely motivating and encouraging.
“The support, enthusiasm and friendships that evolved in my time with SSE were hugely motivating and encouraging.”
Where Does It Come From? has now introduced a second transparent supply chain which is based in Africa. We partnered with the charity Proudly Made in Africa and two social enterprises, and have created tunics and accessories using organic, rain-fed cotton and tailored in a Fairtrade workshop in Malawi. See here for more info.
What would your advice be to a budding social entrepreneur?
My main advice is to be resilient. You have to believe in what you are doing and people try to rain on your parade. You need to carry them on the back of your enthusiasm! There ARE people who will help you so keep at it and you will find them.