At age 21, Leah-Jane Musch opened her own retail-clothing store The Happy Cabin in Brisbane’s West End. This was her first big entrepreneurial venture and saw much success, but three years later Leah felt something was missing. Embarking on a self-discovery break, she embraced the social enterprise movement and returned home to found The Social Pioneers Project.
“I spent two months in Rio De Janeiro Brazil, becoming trained as a social enterprise consultant and working one-on-one with my own client, a 20-year-old fashion designer named Maria Chantal from one of Rio’s central Favelas,” explains Leah-Jane.
“She screen-printed her own designs onto t-shirts as a way of empowering and inspiring women experiencing racism in her community. She had grown a great following, however had issues making sales as her customers simply couldn’t afford her products.”
To cut production costs and allow customer to access Maria’s brand, Leah-Jane suggested running BYO t-shirt evenings where Maria would screen-print directly onto clothes her customers already owned for a fifth of the price.
“My light-bulb moment happened during my last week of the program. I thought 'I could do something like this in Brisbane'. From that moment it’s been a roller-coaster of ideas. I shared my initial concept with my boyfriend Jamie and his best friend Jason– we are now all equal and committed shareholders,” says Leah-Jane.
“The Social Pioneers Project’s aim is to educate and inspire others around social enterprise and being a social entrepreneur. We do this through our sustainable fashion label; every t-shirt sold, is a t-shirt saved from landfill and 20 per cent of all profits go towards supporting young social entrepreneurs from disadvantaged countries.”
In five years, Leah-Jane would like The Social Pioneers Project grow to enable the team to travel to other countries and share the business and social enterprise skills with other young entrepreneurs, just like she assisted Maria in Rio. In this way, the Style + Substance grant would be extremely beneficial.
“We believe in the power of knowledge and if we can grow to a stage where we can share what we know with other people, our mission would be fulfilled. We also aim to have teamed up with a number of big-name retailers and find more sustainable ways to re-use their excess, unsold or unwanted stock”
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