Businesses that #doDifferent: Good Joe T-Shirts

What THEY #doDifferent

We spoke to Margaret Church, founder of Good Joe, about starting a 'for good' business and what she's learnt in the process.

Please tell us a bit more about your business and what it does.

We sell British made clothing for men, currently T-shirts and Polo shirts. We retail online and operate a Buy One, Give One model where for each shirt purchased, we donate a new item of clothing to someone in need here in the UK.

What motivated you to start it?

I left the Corporate world and wanted to do something that would harness what I've learned over the years and that would satisfy the values I try and live by.

To some extent I'd become disillusioned with the practices of large companies. Although Globals have brought undeniable benefits for the consumer, it's not without cost. They've grown too powerful and don't always operate ethically. So it never crossed my mind to do anything other than set up a business that tries to do more than just make money.

Having also volunteered overseas and here in the UK, those experiences compel you to think about things differently. I've met some inspiring people in my life and apart from having enormous passion for their causes they have one thing we can all practise. Kindness.

What have you learnt about running a business along the way?

Although I'm fairly skilled in business practice, being a start-up is very different from being part of an established business, particularly if you're doing it alone. There is no-one around to bounce ideas off and the decisions and risks are all your own. You have to be resilient.

What is one of your triumphs in starting this business?

Each time we make a donation to a charity partner is a real buzz.

So far we've supported 3 charities including St. George's Crypt in Leeds, which tackles the problem of homelessness in the local community and the Mid-Yorks NHS Trust which supports the Dignity in Care initiative. We've also donated to Sharewear in Nottingham which is similar to a Food Bank (which unfortunately have become all too common) except it provides clothing on a referral basis to vulnerable and poor people.

When I visited Sharewear with the clothing, it was heart-warming to see for myself just how uplifting a new shirt can be to someone who has virtually nothing, as we handed over a brightly coloured polo shirt to a client.

His eyes lit up when he saw it and he couldn't wait to put it on.

What advice do you have for anyone who would like to start a business that helps facilitate social change?

I'd say please do it. The combination of a commercial business with strong social responsibility is powerful in both changing people's attitudes to society and creating the change itself.

Make it visible and easy for people to contribute through your product or service. If possible, create a direct link between the social aspect and what they do so they can really feel they're making a difference.

Above all, live by your values. Be ethical and transparent.

What words/motto/quote do you live by or gain inspiration from?

"If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito". (Dalai Lama)

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Different Life