I love it when friends get in touch to introduce me to something new that they think I’ll love… especially when they’re right! Recently I was alerted to the existence of Birdsong London, an online shop and community which finds and sells unique clothing lovingly made by inspirational women’s groups. Founded by Sophie Slater, Sarah Beckett and Ruba Huleihel last summer, their website says “we aim to make the fashion industry fairer for women. No sweatshops, and no Photoshop […] With every purchase you make, you turn your buying power into social good” – definitely sounds like something I need to know more about! I spoke to Sophie about how they got started:
We all had experience volunteering with different groups of women. We met in March on the Year Here fellowship, and part of the course included creating a social enterprise. In August we set up Birdsong together, out of a shared love of empowering women. We worked full time on the project for six weeks, which culminated in a crowd backing event. We put the project on ice whilst completing our course, and have recently started in again full time after winning funding from Bethnal Green Ventures.
This year we’re focusing on getting our brand right, commissioning amazing blog content, launching our full website, and hosting an event in fashion week at Somerset House. We’d love to expand to work with and support more charities, and concentrate on getting more great stock.
They currently work with Heba Women’s Project (made up of women from ethnic minority groups, who have been making beautiful handmade garments in Bricklane for 25 years), Sweet Cavanagh (a social enterprise for women recovering from eating disorders and addiction) and the knitting circle at The Bradbury in Kingston. The project is already inspiring these women – upon making her first garment, one of the ladies from Heba cried with joy when her plaid skirt was immediately sold online. Also, the ladies of the knitting circle had sadly lost one of their lead members to a stroke, but creating scarves for Birdsong has given them new energy and a sense of purpose.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how Birdsong London moves forward in 2015 and will keep you posted with updates on their progress.