In December 2020 we were thrilled to receive some funding from the People’s Health Trust to start up our AND Clothing Project. AND Clothes is an exciting new enterprise run by adults with a learning disability. The funding allowed us to employ two members of staff to support the team of 8 members to build the business and brand with the aim of spreading the #abilitiesnotdisabilities message to the world. The group learn a wide range of skills in order to become social entrepreneurs and together they run every aspect of the clothing business from design, marketing, event planning and sales.
AND Clothes design and sell T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts with eye catching designs and empowering slogans. Our mission is to change the way society view people with a learning disability and to open their eyes to their true potential. All profits goes back into building a brand the group can be really proud of and we also aim that the project will help create more paid employment for its members in the future.
Despite the January lockdown we still went ahead as planned and the group meet twice a week on Zoom. During the online sessions the team relax with some creative time painting and drawing new designs while discussing how to build the business. We are also excited to be working with Fabrication – another social enterprise based in Leeds. Fabrication supports small businesses by giving them a space to sell in the city centre. AND currently sell their clothes on the Fabrication website and when it is safe to do so the team will be working in the shop to learn retail and customer service skills and manage the stock we have available in the store.
PATRICK GRANT – COMMUNITY CLOTHING
The project has had a lot of support and interest from other organisations such as Leeds Art University, Future Fashion Factory and has had some amazing business advice from the BBC’s Sewing Bee Celebrity Patrick Grant. Patrick, who runs his own clothing social enterprise Community Clothing based in Blackburn has been giving us some really useful tips on how to get the brand off the ground. It was a real honour to meet and chat with him with the team and we were all so excited when he gave us some really good feedback about our new designs. We hope to be working with him more closely as the project develops further.
The team are not short of ideas for new designs and have already created several that are being prepared for print. AND Clothes will be releasing their new collection of clothes in the Spring that will include a new line of gorgeous tote bags, T-Shirts and hoodies all designed by the group.
Here is a sneak preview of some of the new designs the team have been busy creating:
WELLBEING THROUGH THE ARTS
It has been proved that art and creativity helps improve mental health. This can be through creating paintings and drawings or having creative discussions and coming up with ideas. Part of the projects aims is to help improve the team’s wellbeing and also feel part of a community with members having a strong positive purpose. Everyone’s voice is heard and the team make all their business decisions together. AND Clothes have such a strong message to spread and its purpose is to improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities around the world. We’re very excited about this project and where it could go from here.
If you’d like to find out more about AND Clothes click here