Behind The Scenes - March 2020
David here from OutsideIn and each month I’m going to give you a little insight of what it’s like to be working at the OI HQ. This month the HQ has changed to our homes but sure, let’s run with it. The beginning of March honestly feels like a decade ago, but it’s definitely a month I don’t think many of us will ever forget. For us, it began with speaking at an assembly in my old school, we then secured our new warehouse. Then we were thrown into the madness of restructuring our company due to COVID-19 and then somehow, in the midst of the madness, we managed to launch a new collection - Love Without Words.
Going Back to School
I was always a dreamer at school. Coming up with crazy ideas (which mainly meant staring out the window and abruptly being brought back down to earth with a maths equation) purposefully directed my way in life - which I definitely didn’t have figured out. Ten years later, (yes, I’m that old) I found myself back at Ballymena Academy, standing on the assembly stage, sharing the story of OutsideIn with all the pupils. Getting to inspire the next generation to dream and give back to those who need it most, seeing so many kids inspired to do something good - I can’t put a price on that. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share and to catch up with the teachers who encouraged me in my teenage years to keep dreaming (and work hard).
Those of you who have been watching OutsideIn from the beginning will know that what started from my parents’ house grew very quickly, resulting in us moving to a premises in Belfast. When we first moved, I remember looking around and thinking “this is enormous, how are we ever going to fill this?”. Well, just over a year and a half later we managed to do just that!
So we found ourselves on the search for somewhere new to house our ever - expanding team. Thankfully, our friends at Work West found us an extra unit which doubled our capacity to over 2,000 sq ft... So much room for activities! This gives us a space for Ged to get creative with visuals, Christabel to hold stock for events and Marc to work on both collaborations and expand our wholesaling. This project is definitely a ‘To Be Continued’ as the move has been put on pause with COVID-19 - which brings me to my next March memory.
It’s one of those things that you watch on the news for months, seeing very little of how it’s impacting your day to day, then all of a sudden the whole country is in lockdown. It still hasn’t quite hit me that this is real. That this unseeable virus is impacting every major city, town and village across the globe. At the start of March the resounding message was “wash your hands” (to the tune of Happy Birthday of course). This changed to “avoid unnecessary travel” and by mid march, it was full on lockdown and we were inundated with messages of “stay at home”! We started off the month trialling a few of the team working from home, which introduced us to different living room / office decor as well as family pets on zoom calls. This has now led to a lot more squares filling the screen during meetings as other than two staff helping to keep our online store open, we are all at home. With most summer festivals cancelled, shops stocking products closed, it’s for sure going to be a challenging year. However, if anything, at OutsideIn we have always had the odds stacked against us; whether it’s starting a clothing company in Belfast, creating a giving concept model that hasn’t been done, or trying to get creative with minimal budgets. We know ‘why’ behind what we do. We are striving to help those who are on the outside of society, those who need to know their worth. We want to be a vehicle of hope; whether it be through our products, words, actions or our time. So despite what’s going on, the team has been amazing, in every department, looking at how we can still operate safely and how to give back most effectively during this time. That’s what sparked the amazing new idea - Love Without Words!
Love Without Words
The Love Without Words collection was an idea that we had already planned at the start of the year. Our overarching theme for this year is ‘connection’ and we wanted to demonstrate how we as a company connect with those who are homeless, inspiring you all to do the same with each drop.
This particular drop was all about the importance of touch in our lives. From our perspective, the initial conversation with those who we meet experiencing homelessness involves a handshake, a hug or a high five as a way to demonstrate ‘Love Without Words’. Thanks to Boris announcing that we were to start social distancing, we had to think fast. We couldn’t launch a collection promoting touch - that would go down as a huge mistake! So we decided this might actually be the best time to talk about connection as now, more than ever, we need to encourage reaching out, connecting and loving those around us. These were the wordless gestures that mattered so much in times of need like now. We didn’t want to stop there, we got in touch with our partnered charities to see what was most needed. Hygiene packs for the homeless! They explained that with the scarcity of hygiene products, those living on the streets or hostels (some of the most vulnerable in society) were at most risk. So it was a no brainer, a wash bag equipped with essential items, soap, shower gel, shampoo, toothbrush, face cloth and toothpaste would be given with every purchase of the new collection. As I write this we have been able to donate over 130 to Whitechapel in London and The Simon Community in Belfast so far which is incredible. Lesson from this campaign? Don’t give up on an idea, just change how you were going to communicate it.
HOPE SWEET HOPE
The phrase that never seems to become dated or irrelevant. It is an Oi Fam favourite. I love how someone who is 17 or 77 can equally rock the phrase on our sweatshirts and yet it holds a completely individual meaning that is entirely their own story of how hope has impacted their life.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve noticed the demand going flying through the roof for these and it makes sense. We all need hope right now. There’s no denying the presence of fear, it’s very real for so many of us. However, the underdog hope is very much on the rise as despite isolation, the world is rallying together as a community to help each other.
This has motivated group call after group call filled with ideas of what’s next. I can’t tell you just yet but trust me, what’s coming next is exciting and I hope (no pun intended) it brings you a lot of encouragement over the next few months.
So there you have it. March 2020. I hope you all enjoyed this little update and would love to hear your thoughts or questions - enter below or you can grab me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Safe. Stay Home. Spread Hope.