BTS - JANUARY 2021
2021 is here and we’re kicking it off with our very first BTS blog of the year!
Why do I love January so much? It’s the month we get to slow down a little after the hype of Christmas, and take a very long second just to BREATHE. It’s been a month of assessing the past year, appreciating what we have, who we’ve helped, and being super thankful that we get to do what we do. So this BTS is a little less fast-paced and a bit more reflective with a few exciting gems that have happened already. So, here we go: BTS #1 2021.
Rest & Reflect
Rest is something I always assumed meant that you weren't ‘hustling’ hard enough. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate it now! But a few years ago when it took a lot of work to get OutsideIn off the ground, rest wasn't exactly at the top of my mind with what was a Not-So-9-to-5 kind of job. But now it’s something I really value and look forward to. Whether it be going for walks, playing chess, or virtual meet-ups with friends; you gotta get creative with how you rest in these locked-down times. At the start of this year I took some time off to reset, and during this time I wrote down everything that I was thankful for last year, as well as what I’d love to improve and achieve in 2021.
Looking back at 2020, we did so so much that was amazing! From projects that inspired hope in people experiencing homelessness, to over 10,000 giving products donated to charities in Ireland, Greece, the UK and the USA, to growing and strengthening our team despite the pandemic; OutsideIn kept on going and kept on giving back no matter what was going on around us. And all of this comes back to you. To everyone who has helped us on this journey, from those who have supported our mission and shared their stories with us, to those who have sent us photos of people wearing our products and videos of people inspiring others to be passionate about changing the narrative on homelessness - thank you so much for helping us along! You inspire me every single day and make pursuing this dream so worth it.
It’s crazy to think we are already heading into our 5th year of OutsideIn! I’m so thankful that each year we have continued to lay the foundations needed to make us stronger and more capable of impact, and foundations that we can continue to build on to push us further, to help us give more, and to help us as we push on to change the face of homelessness one step at a time.
Strangers, Made Someone.
Our very first collection for 2021 was Strangers, Made Someone. This collection is inspired by the very thing that unites each one of us: our humanity. Everything about this collection stood out for me but my favourite parts included its focus on restoring dignity to those who feel on the outside, the fact that it put meaning before products, and especially the opportunity it presented us with to give back before any when products were sold with something we called Share One, Wear One! Crazy right?
With Share One, Wear One we wanted to show young people experiencing homelessness just how much they matter to us, that they belong, and that no matter what society has told them, they deserve the very best. So how did we do this? Well, we created special Christmas packages that included an item from the collection, a few of our thermal giving items including our socks and beanies, and a personalised Christmas card for that extra special touch. These packages were given to 60 young people experiencing homelessness who are supported by the Simon Community in Belfast for a Christmas they’ll never forget. Tribal Burger also joined us with a generous (and delicious) donation of 80 freshly prepared burgers and fries!
It was a bit of a risk producing and donating these packages before a single penny was made, but hey, we want to do things differently here. We wanted this to show the heart and the purpose behind why we do what we do.
This collection is also so special to me because it really is for everyone, and yes, that includes YOU! We know how hard it is right now in lockdown, with a real sense of isolation, with social distancing measures that continually create barriers between our friends and family, and with a whole lot of disconnect from those around us... All of these things can make us start to feel like strangers to each other, even with those who we love dearly. With this in mind, the messaging on every item within the collection has been created intentionally to remind you that you are a someone, and to show you that you matter, that you belong, and that you are so loved.
Check out the collection below! I’m a big believer in the power of words, so I feel this collection has that extra special touch of encouragement that everyone needs right now.
We Are Hiring!
It seems like yesterday that I was a one-man-band selling products out of our living room and doing everything by myself! Despite everything that 2020 dished out, last year we had 8 new people join the Oi Family! These new team members ranged from all sorts of departments including Social Impact, Visuals, Marketing and Fashion. It was a strange time to be expanding and adding to the team with everything going on, and it was weird having to do most of the inductions virtually rather than our usual fun in-person get-togethers to introduce these new people to the wider team. But nonetheless, we adapted as much as possible and got super creative in ways to make our new team feel welcome!
From socially distanced walks to online quiz nights, we did it all! And for OutsideIn in general, online operation has become our main focus given that many of the events we would usually attend have been put on hold until further notice. Shifting to an online way of working has made us focus a lot more on the quality and design of products we sell to you and give to those experiencing homelessness.
Last year we officially established our first full Fashion Team! They have done an amazing job at building relationships with manufacturers, improving our sustainability and creating exciting collections! This team is growing bigger and bigger and I’m so excited to share that we now have an opportunity to welcome another Fashion Technician, as well as our first-ever Junior Designer on board! Growth is always a tough one to balance but investing in all departments is so important to me so that we can create the best products out there, the best giving experience possible, and the best team to do it.Interested in joining the Oi Fam yourself? Check the link below for available career opportunities. We would love to have you!
2021 Vision Casting
This year's vision casting meeting was a little different from last year’s. Unlike before, we weren’t able to all be together, enjoying the best soup and sausage rolls from James’ (our Finance genius!) mum, BUT we did have a great time reflecting on what we’ve achieved so far and looking forward to 2021.
Every year our vision casting meeting gives us a moment to breathe and reflect on the past year as a team. And what a year to reflect on! I really wanted to emphasise to the team that they should be so proud of what we accomplished throughout what was a pretty tough year!
If we were simply a clothing brand it would have been more tempting to shut down shop and hibernate for a while, but the whole reason we exist is to bring people on the outside of society in. So stopping was not gonna happen. In the meeting I got to share the story of how we began and where I see us heading as we step into our 5th year of OutsideIn. Looking back through photos really made me appreciate everyone who has been a part of this journey, including you! You see, none of this would be possible without you and without a team of people who are passionate about changing the narrative around homelessness.
This year we have a theme (I can’t quite disclose it just yet!) and it’s one that I believe truly encompasses the heart of OutsideIn. I believe it will remind everyone about how much they matter to us, and I’m certain it will inspire everyone to keep persevering - no matter what 2021 decides to throw at us.
I know it can be hard to sometimes get excited about the future, especially when there are so many uncertainties around it. And maybe 2021 hasn’t started exactly the way you had hoped it would but please remember that there is hope in the midst of the chaos, that you have made it this far, and that your story matters. There will be light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to hold on for it.
Although there are so many exciting things happening at OutsideIn, we have our days of uncertainty, fear, and even days where it seems like nothing is working out. So know that we journey alongside you this year, as a family with hope leading the way through the messiness of life.
Wherever you are, I hope you have an amazing week and if you have any questions just comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible!Thanks Oi Fam,