Everyday Emma

You'll never change your life, until you change something you do everyday.

Changing Lives One Bag at a Time

Like many fashion bloggers, I love charity shop browsing. When I was younger I cringed as my mummy stopped in her tracks to get a closer look at an outfit in a second hand shop window. But now, chart topping music, magazines and bloggers glorify preloved pieces, it's cool! When getting my second hand fix I visited a very trendy store called Ten Foundations. The shop is a haven for feel good shopping (and they serve coffee, bliss!). However, the NI based organisation goes a lot further than the store itself. One man had a vision to create a livelihood programme for a community in the Philippines living in poverty, and that's exactly what he did - one bag at a time.

Deemed by it's customers as 'The Hollister of Charity Shops' Ten Foundations is a non-profit, non-religious charity situated in the fitting fashionable Lisburn Road area of Belfast. The place is full of character and purpose, you might be looking at an on trend preloved dress from Topshop while a decorative message on the wall from one of the volunteers catches your eye. The hand written notes do not only inform shoppers of the charities achievements, the mirrors are doodled with complements.

Unlike most charity shops I have been to, the essence of the charity at Ten Foundations is not lost. The shack like counter that serves cosy cappuccinos, is reminiscent of a Filipino store front while the walls hold impressive statistics, reinforcing the immense impact the charity has had on the lives of the Bayanihan community.

It's not just the store that sustains the lives of these women - it's all in the bag! Ten Foundations specialise in school bags, made from recycled materials, these bags are so unique and high in quality. The charity teaches women how to make these bags which in turn are sold to give the workers a wage. The charity states:

"Our shop in Belfast is already making a difference to us. We now have over 30 mothers making these bags and it's the most important thing we do. In 2014, these mothers were living in complete poverty - no money, no education and no hope. Today they are earning up to P10,000 a month, it is all about giving them the ability to change their own lives."

This whole idea started when one man, Ian Campbell, decided he wanted to make a difference. He didn't like what he saw and he decided to do something about it, he made a decision, believed he could and he did. Now Ian hopes to build more livelihood centres all over the Philippines. It is truly inspirational hearing Ian's story, his passion to help others and belief in his decision to do so. It seems that I am not the only person who has been touched by Ian's willingness to help others, as there has been a lot of coverage on his story...

In speaking with Ian about the sustainability of his charity and the 'give a man a fish and you can feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you can feed him for a lifetime' concept, I loved how it flipped the process of todays fashion industry. Our society has fallen into a trap where many multi national retailers are making profit on cheap labour where the creator of the product is not receiving the benefits and in some cases are being exploited. Ian's charity is showing that it doesn't have to be this way. Ten Foundations are using the creation of a trendy bag to completely benefit the bag maker, it goes against the norms of todays fashion industry which really is, revolutionary.

Visit the store at: 355 Lisburn Road
Find Ten Foundations online: tenfoundations.org
Like the Facebook page: facebook.com/tenfoundations

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