When we first had the idea of co-founding 1001 Stories, we knew we didn’t want to start just another fashion brand. Let’s be honest who needs yet another fashion brand when nowadays the options for the end customer are limitless.
As co-founders we were both driven by giving back and creating value in the most effective and impactful way. In our case, this meant creating work opportunities for the ones who are not offered equal access to the labour market. We are firm believers that giving work instead of aid is more beneficial. The traditional charity model makes us feel good but usually does not result in long term benefits for the recipients of aid. Being able to give marginalized communities the opportunity to collaborate with us on the development of our shoes helps create a sense of purpose, belonging and pride. It gives people stability and a feeling they are contributing as equal partners.
In this day and age there is no excuse for not combining profit and purpose at the core of any business – large or small. The opportunities to create impact are limitless. At 1001 Stories we measure the success of our business against financial as well as social metrics. The number of people we are able to help each year is equally, if not more important to us than any hard metric. But we are only able to do, what we do, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our customers, who choose to support businesses like ours. The more pairs of shoes we sell, the more people we can help. Every pair sold directly correlates with the amount of work we are able to create for our artisans and as a result contribute to reversing poverty.
We carefully hand pick partners who share the same values of providing fair wages and creating a happy and safe working environment. For our first Hero collection we have partnered with SEP Jordan, a social enterprise, which is part of the UN High Commission for Refugees livelihood program - MADE51. SEP Jordan employs and trains over 500 female artisans, who live and work in refugee camps in Jordan. They usually learn the basics of embroidery from their mothers and grandmothers and SEP Jordan helps them perfect their technique in the SEP academy.
With the first Hero collection we have been able to create 600 days’ worth of work so far for these female artists, who have embroidered the beautiful bows on our shoes. On average, it takes the artists 3 days to produce one ribbon. 90% of what we pay for the ribbons goes directly to the artisan who made the ribbon. And even though it might seem like a small accessory, the cost of the ribbon is a full ¼ of the total cost of the shoe.
Being able to support communities such as SEP Jordan is the reason why we are in business. We hope that more customers will continue to choose businesses like ours; businesses that have strong social values at the core of what they do. Only this way will we be able to help many more individuals around the world, just like Nawal (trained teacher and SEP Jordan Operations Manager): “At the start of my adult life, for 15 years, I was like a bee that buzzes without any results. But now, our situation has improved significantly. I have a job, a stable income, and SEP has helped me build my house, and put one of my daughters through university.”
At 1001 Stories our mission is to continue to embark on projects like these, where we put people first and create products that have a story and a purpose. We hope you will join us on our journey.