FACING THE FUTURE - TOGETHER
I love being a few steps ahead of the game when it comes to planning (probably why I love chess👀) but this past year was one that even the most organised, forward-thinker could never have prepared for...
Personally, being at home so much during this lockdown has been tough. However, one thing that has helped me significantly is looking at ways I can implement a routine or making (Covid-safe) plans to catch up with family and loved ones - both of which have been so good for my mental health. Other fun things that have really helped me are virtual games nights, movie nights, and A LOT of walks! Another huge part in how I’ve kept positive is my faith. Naturally, I love having an answer to everything and during a time of so much uncertainty, my faith has meant a lot of reliance on God. I’ve had to put my trust in him to get me through all the things I don’t have answers to and that’s helped bring me a lot of peace and direction on a daily basis.
In the context of work, I think the key thing that has kept myself and the team positive during this strange season, is seeing the impact of our giving back in a time period where so many are in need. It’s very easy to become self-focused when times are tough but seeing the needs of people experiencing homelessness around the globe has been a humbling experience and one that has inspired us all to keep going, to innovate our giving, and to continue to bring our customers along on the journey. Seeing all this in motion has been so encouraging and even on toughest days, these are the things that keep me going.
I’m a BIG dreamer so looking through my camera roll and remembering all the moments that have brought me joy, whether that be work-related memories or time with friends and family, brings up positive emotions and helps to remind me this season of separation is only temporary. In some aspects, the last year has felt like we’ve had to press pause but, in turn, this has helped me to reflect and to really appreciate the small things that I can’t wait to do again, like sit in a coffee shop with friends, go on a road trip or simply hug the people I love.
It can be so easy to get caught up in your own thoughts and to start thinking SO far ahead that your future-mindedness becomes detrimental to your mental health. And in these situations, if you find yourself way off track from where you want to be, this can feel really overwhelming.
I believe that the best place to start is with what’s happening in your life today. Rather than stressing over the gap between your reality and your future, start focusing on the small steps you can take today that will get you closer bit by bit.
But what do these small stepping stones look like?
Well, it could be learning a new language so you can live in a new city someday, it could be diving into research to set you up for a new career move, perhaps it’s a training course that will help to up-skill your abilities, or maybe it’s simply speaking to people with more experience that can help guide you to reaching greater potential in your future. Before I started OutsideIn, I had no idea where to start but speaking to business owners, reading books and setting small achievable goals helped significantly in creating a sense of accomplishment long before the bigger picture was formed.
From day one, OutsideIn has been committed to three key things: changing the negative perceptions that surround homelessness, inspiring others to join us on the journey in doing so, and bringing hope to those who need it most.
Through all the challenges we have faced collectively and individually, this past year has made it even clearer that there is a huge global need to help individuals experiencing homelessness. I believe a big part of our future is innovating our giving even further so we can see our impact reach more needs and more lives than ever before. Our Social Impact Team has been instrumental in our ability to make a difference over the last year. From educating our team on the issues surrounding homelessness, to working closely with our partner charities to gain feedback on how we can improve our efforts to help, and to making sure that our customers can see the impact every one of their purchases makes; they have been heroes throughout this tricky season.
It’s always been our heart for impact that excites me most. Our unique approach to fashion, which focuses on finding the purpose before selling the product, is what makes me so proud of what we do. With homelessness being a global issue, I want to expand the company on a global level and take OutsideIn to areas where the need is greatest. Places such as the USA, Australia, Europe, Africa, and so many other regions that present a unique and great need for help. With customers in some of these places already, I am excited to start looking at even more charities local to these places in the year ahead.
As talks about lockdown ending soon (PLEASE 🙏) begin to take place, one thing I can’t wait to get back to is our original Wear One, Share One (WOSO) initiative.
For those of you who are new to the Oi Fam, WOSO was designed to create connections between the inside and the outside. With every purchase a customer made, we gave them an additional item of clothing to give to someone in their city or town who was experiencing homelessness. Empowering our customers to play a tangible part in the giving was so incredible and it led to so many amazing and inspiring stories - not only about how the products shared helped to meet immediate needs, but how they created genuine and meaningful connections that could cause a lasting impact. WOSO created unique opportunities for people who usually feel isolated to be welcomed into society and to be given a sense of real hope through the power of human interaction. Unfortunately, when social distancing measures were introduced we had to adapt our WOSO to be more safety-cautious. This meant that instead of giving our customers the option to donate the additional product themselves, we distributed these products directly to our partner charities.
That tangible sense of giving back is something that is so special for our customers and for those receiving the items. I definitely want to see that reintroduced soon! I also want to create more opportunities for our customers and our followers (a.k.a the Oi Fam) to contribute to the decision making process that influences what we produce, as well as bring back community-focused events where we can FINALLY meet in person again!
OutsideIn is a family and families are often strongest when they’re connected and together. We want to improve this sense of community within the Oi Fam - whether in or out of lockdown - so keep an eye out for more family-focused ways we can connect!
As a team, we have grown significantly over the last year but so many of us have yet to meet in person! I can’t wait for the day we can ALL be in the same room and see the kind of deeper connections made between the team that really can only be made in person.
Oh and events!
One of my favourite parts of the brand over the past few years has been hitting the road to host pop-up shops around the UK! We got to meet so many amazing people through this, many of whom have continued to play a significant part within the Oi Fam. It’s also given us the chance to take our message near and far and share our passion with so many new faces. Nothing beats in-person connection and getting to chat to our customers face-to-face to hear their feedback, their stories and their experiences with WOSO has always been so special to us as a team. The local annual Christmas Market in Belfast is a great example of how, with just a little wooden shed, we were able to connect and share memories with both our customers and the special individuals experiencing homelessness who stopped by to say hello.
That word has to be hope.
Hope is the one thing that keeps us all going, keeps us fighting through the tough times and keeps us believing that better days are still to come. I want everything we do here at OutsideIn to inspire and welcome hope.
From our Wear One, Share One to the work we do with charities right to the clothing we produce, I want everything we do to initiate action-orientated hope that is directed towards helping those who need it most.Whether you wear our clothing, visit our website, read one of our blog posts, or check us out on social media, I want every avenue of who we are to remind everyone of their worth, their value, and the hope that’s available to them for their futures.