OUR BIG BIRTHDAY BLOG
8 MINUTE READ
It's our birthday!!! And we are in full-blown party mode!
As we celebrate everything we have achieved in the five years of OutsideIn, we'll be going through five things that have made, shaped, inspired and kept us going year on year! We are so excited to be able to celebrate this milestone birthday with you and we are so grateful for all the support and encouragement you have given us to get us to this point!
We'll be adding a new section to the blog each day for the next five days so keep an eye on it to learn more about us ❤️
We're so proud to have you in the Oi Fam so sit back, relax and let's bring in the birthday bash!
NUMBER 1: PRODUCT
It’s our birthday and the big 5 at that! Over the last 5 years we have built a community of people who are determined to rewrite homelessness by bridging the gap between society and those on the outside of it. From a wee business in Cullybackey (if you don’t know where that is…we don’t blame you) to seeing our products and our social impact travel across the globe to all kinds of places (Dublin, London, South Africa, New York, Los Angeles, Belfast, Greece…just to name a few!), we’re having a bit of birthday nostalgia looking back at how far we’ve come!
Did you know, David, our Founder, never planned to start a clothing company. With a business degree and a passion for social impact, the fashion world didn’t really make it to the top of his list. But after some digging, David learnt that clothing was one of the most-requested items from homeless charities and that any clothing they did receive was usually second-hand, in poor condition or so old it practically had cobwebs. There was a MASSIVE need and a huge gap for clothing that would actually give the people wearing it a sense of dignity, pride and practical help.
Not knowing much about fashion, David decided to start small with something that all Northern Irelanders loved - Poms! From just a few items of Headwear to all kinds of products including T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Fleeces and more, over the last five years we’ve seen David’s vision to use clothing as a way to bridge the gap between society and homelessness come to life through our products and they message they carry.
Everyone who puts on an OutsideIn product - regardless of their circumstances - deserves to feel proud to wear it. We don’t want to be just another brand that looks good, we want to be the brand that makes people feel good and valued and loved and dignified.
Our products tell a story and they give other people a chance to share their own stories. Whether you’re a banker, an 80-year old, a dancer, a mom, a brother, a teenager, a postman, the Prime Minister or someone experiencing homelessness, our mission is to give you something you feel proud to wear and something that shows you how proud we are to have you wearing it.
To kick off our birthday with a really big OutsideIn bang, we wanted to give you a product that represents everything we are: bold, bright, quality-focused, impact-driven and wonderfully unique! So, meet our latest innovation: the Teal Colour Block Fleece!
This is our thank you to you for helping us get to the place where this is possible. Here’s to ALL of us!
Happy Birthday, Oi Fam. We’re only just getting started…
NUMBER 2: PASSION
It’s day 2 of our birthday celebrations and while products are what we create, our passion is what continues to drive us forward product launch after product launch and most importantly, it’s what keeps us making an impact on homelessness and those impacted by it.
We all have things we’re passionate about and that we continue to pursue, practice or enjoy no matter what challenges get thrown at us.
For us that’s social impact and seeing people value one another. We have something called ‘Wear One, Share One’ which means that for every single product that you purchase from us, we donate another product to someone experiencing homelessness. Does it mean more work? Yeah. Has it been difficult to maintain at times? Yup. Is it all worth it? 1000%.
‘Wear One, Share One’ is our way of helping our society see that helping others is not a difficult thing to do, in fact, it’s an extremely important thing to do. We want our ‘Wear One, Share One’ to inspire people to get passionate about kindness, passionate about empathy, passionate about compassion, and passionate about sharing. We believe that our products are so much more than just a cool design or a sick style, our products are about purpose-driven passion. And through them, we want to spread the message across the world that anyone, no matter who you are or where you’re from, can be a part of making this purpose possible.
We want you to feel the same kinda passion that we do when you put on your Oi products so that when someone asks you where you got your Pom or your Fleece or your classic Hope Sweet Hope Tee, you feel so excited to tell them about OutsideIn. Passion is contagious and we want our passion for social impact to spread like wildfire.
So, for day 2 of our birthday celebrations we’re making shipping TOTALLY FREE as a massive thanks for helping us get this passion from our shelves here in Belfast all the way to your homes across the world!
NUMBER 3: POMS
Day 3 of the Oi birthday bash and we can’t celebrate 5 years of OutsideIn without looking at one very, very, very important part of who we are… OUR POMS! After all, it’s where it all began for us…
Whether you’ve been here from the start or you’re new to the Oi Fam, chances are you’ve probably seen (or bought) one of our Poms! Did you know that the very first product we ever sold was a Pom?? If you bought one, we gave you another one to give to someone experiencing homelessness which, if you didn’t already know, was pretty unheard of and a bit risky for a new business. But that’s exactly why we started - to challenge the way stuff was done and to take those risks in order to help those in need.
We’ve come a very, very long way from that first Pom but one thing that hasn’t changed is what we’re here to do and that is to bring the outside of society in. We know that OutsideIn alone won’t end homelessness but we believe that alongside amazing customers like you who are willing to jump on this wild and exciting ride with us, we sure can make a difference to it.
To end off day 3 of our birthday celebrations we wanna send you on a Pom hunt! Here’s how it’s gonna work:If you’re visiting the Christmas Market, look out for an Oi Pom cut-out hidden around the Market. If you find one, take it to our stall and we’ll give you a free Pom of your choice! And for all those visiting us online, we’ll be sending out Pom cut-outs to randomly selected orders so if you get one, take a pic, send it to us on DM (@weare_oi) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll send you your free Pom!
NUMBER 4: PURPOSE
Q & A WITH THE BOSS!
Everything is connected to a purpose and here at OutsideIn our purpose starts with a problem… Homelessness.
Millions of people around the world are impacted by homelessness. That’s millions of real lives, millions of real stories, and millions of real needs.
And because of this, OutsideIn was started in order to create a real solution. From the products we give out to the connection we encourage our customers to make with those on the outside, our purpose is to help those impacted by homelessness all around the world through hope, kindness, empathy and love.
To give you more insight into this purpose and why it is so powerful and such an important part of everything we do, we had another catch-up with our Founder, David, to hear about what the purpose behind OutsideIn means to him.
- In your own words, how would you describe the purpose behind OutsideIn?
The purpose is really the WHY. Why Homelessness? Why Clothing? For that we have to go back to 2014 when I was at uni in Scotland and on most weekends would travel down to Edinburgh to do some street photography. I remember the more I would travel, the more it stood out that there were so many people homeless, living or begging on the streets. It’s so easy to walk past, or assume they are there because of their own mistakes but one day I decided to stop and just say… Hello.
And honestly, that day changed my life.
I realised that learning a name and hearing a story creates connection and that these were humans who craved that connection - even though they were surrounded by people living on some of the busiest streets. These people longed to be a part of society more than they wanted money and the very least I could give them was my time. After a little while I started sharing some of their stories online and from that I saw help starting to come from people all across the UK. They wanted to know how they could help these individuals and that’s when I realised that actually, society does want to help… They just don’t always know how.
So, in short, that’s why OutsideIn exists: to be the bridge between society and people experiencing homelessness. We’re here to let them know they matter, that they are loved and that they belong. Our clothing is the tool we use to show these people that they are worth more than they know and, as long as we exist, we will continue to welcome people on the outside of society in. Whether it be clothing, food, hotels or anything else they may need, for us purpose stays front and centre - people helping people.
Why is OutsideIn's purpose so unique?
I guess it’s something that’s not glamorous mixed in with an industry that’s built on glamour. We are the brands we wear and these brands create social status. Yet here we are as a brand that’s asking the question: Are you willing to wear what people living on the streets are also wearing?
But it takes doing something a little different to bring real attention to a group of people often neglected by society and that is why a concept like our ‘Wear One, Share One’ is so different. You can’t just do it as a CSR technique, it’s tricky, it takes time and you really have to believe that what you’re doing has purpose or you’re going to quit. To sum it up, because I love talking and could go on and on, I think it takes time and passion to have true purpose, even in an industry that’s against slowing down.
When times get tough, why is it so important for you to remember this purpose?
Purpose is the fuel no matter what the road looks like. It’s that one thing that even if you’ve had a bad day, week or month, you can hold on to it knowing that it’s going to pull you through. I’ve always wanted to start a business but had I started this clothing company just to make it into Vogue, to have a shop or to make money, I’m 100% confident I would have given up a long time ago.
For me it’s the why - the purpose that has got me through all those sticky times like in 2017 when we had no sales in over a week. Or 2018 when I made huge losses selling at some summer events and the list goes on and on. Of course I had doubts like, is this really worth it? And many sleepless nights worrying, stressing, and definitely giving myself a few extra wrinkles. That’s when you have to remember the impact you are having and the reason you started in the first place.
That looks different for everyone but if you are reading this about to quit, ask yourself why you began in the first place. That may just help you keep fighting or, you know what, it may even help you find out what it is that you want to do with the rest of your life. And that’s pretty amazing.
How do you see this purpose shaping the future of OutsideIn? For example, the crazy dreams you have for the future of Oi!
Homelessness is a global issue so as long as it exists, so will we. It’s an intricate and extremely complicated matter that looks very different from country to country, city to city, and even person to person. However, do I believe it can be ended? Absolutely. And whether or not it can be done in my lifetime, I’m certainly going to keep going until I’ve done as much as I possibly can alongside others who share this vision/passion.
I love to dream but in order to truly make an impact, I know we have to listen and learn from the people who are experiencing homelessness themselves. This vision is going to take a lot of collaboration, understanding, empathy and innovation to achieve; however, I believe OutsideIn can do that. I want us to go beyond clothing - whether that be education, food or hospitality, I want us to be the ones who cover every need. ‘Wear One, Share One’ will continue to pivot (it always already has) to where the need is greatest. And as much as I love our clothing to stand out, I want OutsideIn to be remembered for how it gave back globally to people in need, not just because of the garments we created. To me, this is what really matters.
How does the Oi Team, our customers, our charity and business partners, and those experiencing homelessness play into this purpose and make it come to life?
We say ‘Oi Fam’ a lot at OutsideIn. This represents the purpose-driven community we’ve created who, together, help us spread hope across the globe. And this ‘Oi Fam’ is so much more than just our team up at the Oi HQ. If homelessness is a global issue then it needs a global solution and a team of people from all over the world who are passionate about helping others. And this is where you come in…
When I started OutsideIn in my mum's spare room in 2016, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I’d need to inspire others to see the need and be moved to help. Whether that was businesses, charities, schools or individual people, I needed people beside me to help make my vision possible. OutsideIn believes in people coming together to change the story of homelessness with whatever tools we have and it has been incredible to see people with so many diverse talents use their skills to help those in need. From businesses providing Christmas gifts to people experiencing homelessness to event spaces where we have hosted parties for those in need and right to those who have helped by shopping in The Giving Store to provide someone else with warm clothing this winter, each bit of support has been felt, appreciated and valued. The Oi Fam is YOU. It’s people who see the purpose, believe in it and do something about it.
For that I am truly grateful and knowing you’re on this journey with us, well, that makes me extremely excited for what’s in store…
NUMBER 5: PEOPLE
Chances are that you’ve probably heard us talk about the ‘Oi Fam’ a few times. This isn’t just some random phrase we thought sounded cool or catchy, but it’s a phrase that pretty much encapsulates what we hope to create - a family. No matter what your personal family life may look like, when we say you’re a part of the Oi Fam we want you to feel that invaluable sense of belonging that comes with being among people who accept you for you. No questions asked, no hidden agendas - just you, as you are, how you are, where you are and who you are.
We’ve spoken about products, Poms, passion and purpose, but the truth is, none of these things would exist or matter without one very crucial ‘P’ - people.
For us, people matter more than any product we create but we also value the fact that without people, there wouldn’t be any products in the first place. Helping people is what drives us just as much as helpful people are what keep us going! They’re what we need to do what we do and we want every person who associates themselves with OutsideIn - be it as a team member, a customer, a charity partner, a business, a fan, right to someone experiencing homelessness - to know that they are a part of the Oi Fam.
And because the Oi Fam welcomes anyone and everyone wanting to be a part of it, our fam stretches across the globe; in cities across the world, homes across continents, and lives in every nation. We are so proud to see this sense of family grow year on year and sometimes we have to pinch ourselves when we think about the hundreds of thousands of people who have bought an Oi product and, in turn, have given hundreds of thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness brand-new, high-quality, hope-filled products to wear too.
They say it takes a team to reach a dream and we gotta say, we think our team is the best in the league. You have helped us to impact homelessness on a global scale and, most importantly, show those who are affected by it that they matter. You’ve helped us to give them an alternative narrative to what society tells them about their worth and you’ve made it possible for them to have hope once again. All of this is possible because of you - people who are passionate about helping other people.
Like we said, that’s what it all comes down to. From one person with a dream to hundreds of thousands of people making that dream real all across the world, thank you for being one of the people who have made our purpose possible, purchased one of our Poms, pushed our passion forward, or put on one of our products. We could not do it without you and we wouldn’t want to either.
Mad love, Oi Fam!