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r.e.a.l Travel diary \\ Korogocho: The Invisible City.

Last month, our founder Virginia Bruce travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to meet with some of the inspirational people behind the Ethical Fashion Initiative and Ethical Fashion Africa. A part of the International Trade Centre, the EFI has been a key player in poverty alleviation by using the fashion industry as a vehicle for some of Africa’s most disenfranchised communities.

From walking through a slum in Nairobi to visiting the EFI workshops and the people she met along the way, Virginia shares some of the highlights – and surprises – from her journey.

06.05.14 – Korogocho : The Invisible City.

On Monday I walked through ‘Korogocho’, one of Nairobi’s slums.

We were greeted there by a group of 6 or 7 children, between the ages of 5 and 9 – joyful, mischievous, inquisitive, laughing, giggling, smiling – all wanting their photos taken while they practiced their English.

“How are you ?” – these three words were chanted throughout the slum by almost every child that we passed. Clearly they had been taught to be considerate and to …

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REAL Social Impact Design // Virginia Bruce on design & social enterprise.

The R.E.A.L Design for Social Impact mentoring program has once again partnered with COFA, one of Australia’s leading design institutes, to turn ‘ordinary’ designers into budding social entrepreneurs.

Through a staged process, the program offers mentoring, guidance and connections to industry professionals, and for the selected designers, a platform for distribution and marketing through The R.E.A.L Store.

Bridging the gap between ideas and reality, ‘R.E.A.L Design for Social Impact’ builds a professional pathway for emerging designers to use their own set of skills towards a positive and tangible social impact beyond the classroom.

Virginia Bruce, founder of the R.E.A.L Group, shares how she helps students to realise their own potential as ‘impact designers’, what it takes to make it onto the shelves of The R.E.A.L Store and how simple it really is to make a difference.

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Travel Diary \\ Ethical Fashion Africa : Not Charity. Just Work.

Last month, our founder Virginia Bruce travelled to Nairobi, Kenya to meet with some of the inspirational people behind the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) and Ethical Fashion Africa Ltd (EFAL). A part of the International Trade Centre, the EFI has been a key player in poverty alleviation by using the fashion industry as a vehicle for some of Africa’s most disenfranchised communities.

Through the Hands That Shape Humanity social enterprise, the REAL Group has already collaborated with EFAL on a range of summer tote bags designed by prominent Australian designers and produced by a small team of Massai artisans.

From walking through a slum in Nairobi to visiting the EFI workshops and the people she met along the way, Virginia shares some of the highlights – and surprises – from her journey.

05.05.14 – Ethical Fashion Africa Ltd : Not Charity, Just Work.

I had only been to Africa once – and that was to Cape Town to meet with the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and our partner and founder of Hands – Garth McIntosh. …

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Ayusha in Katherine's studio

REAL Social Impact Design: Katherine Mahoney on Mentoring.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller.

A design, a cause, a campaign: they are all crucial components of the REAL Social Impact Design Program but on their own, they are unlikely to effect a measurable social impact.

There is no perfect formula for success but we firmly believe that every successful social enterprise is above all a collaborative process between people – designers and mentors, entrepreneurs and social activists, manufacturers and consumers – who are all indispensable links in the chain towards positive change.

Over the next few weeks, we will ask each of the people involved in the REAL Program how they are helping to shape a new generation of social enterprises. Today, we start with one our mentors, Katherine Mahoney.

Katherine Mahoney is an established potter based in Sydney, NSW. Her hand-thrown pieces are both sophisticated and practical, perfectly at ease exhibited in galleries or cherished within the home. Parallel to her own ceramic practice, Mahoney is a respected teacher and mentor who guides her students with a steady …

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COFA students design for maximum social impact.

In Australia, the month of March marks the start of a new university year. To us, this means a fresh batch of students and projects to mentor through our REAL Social Impact Design Initiative.

Run in conjunction with the College of Fine Arts (COFA), The REAL Social Impact Design Initiative invites Design students in their final year to conceptualize and realize a product, artwork or program which must answer to one condition: create a positive social change.

A team of mentors made up of established industry professionals provides tailored workshops, one on one mentoring and a pathway to production, marketing and distribution, providing emerging designers with a rare access into the highly competitive creative industry.

Over the last 4 years, we have been delighted to help bring several extraordinary projects to life.

Some of our most successful projects include Santina Ingui’s ‘Life in Parts’ which raises awareness of mental illness with a series of exquisite but fragile ceramic vessels, embodying our own vulnerability.

Visala Wong’s ‘Take a Walk in My Shoes‘ aims to create opportunities for the …

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Supporting the R.E.A.L. Foundation with a spring garden luncheon.

A few weeks ago, We met Mickey Robertson (owner of Glenmore House) and her daughter Clementine. As we had been treated to a fantastic lunch where each ingredient came straight from the incredible seasonal garden, we thought it would be wonderful to share this culinary experience with some of you, and were we right!

Last week-end we visited Mickey again and seized this opportunity to host a successful fundraising event for the R.E.A.L Foundation. The focus of the foundation is to empower individuals to reach their own potential through tailored and innovative mentoring programs, through the Hands That Shape Humanity social enterprise.

We were joined by a group of like-minded friends and sustainability enthusiasts to enjoy a frolic in the garden and a springtime luncheon specially created by r.e.a.l.’s executive chef and long-time friend Eon Waugh.

Head-chef for a day of our little pop-up restaurant, Eon created a succulent menu of spring soup and tart, which we served in our Hands That Shape Humanity ceramic bowls and plates, while Garden teas and organic coffee were …

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Geographe Primary School takes a S.E.A.T towards reconciliation.

For the last 6 weeks, a class of year 5 children have been using their creative thinking as a tool to better understand and appreciate their local indigenous culture thanks to a Reconciliation Grant awarded by the Department of Indigenous Affairs and a clever little stool that goes by the name of S.E.A.T.

Since 2010, Geographe Primary School has led an innovative reconciliation program in collaboration with Genevieve Forrest, a talented artist who is the school’s Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer.

“Genevieve’s role has included the vital role of collaborating with our local Noongar community and elders, guiding our project so we are respectful, aware of protocols and able to include local Noongar language,” explains Ana Nail, primary visual arts teacher at Geographe PS.

With a shared focus on literacy through language and visual storytelling, Nail saw a great connection between the school’s approach and the S.E.A.T Project. “I had read about the S.E.A.T Project and was immediately interested in using it for our school,” explains Nail.

“Working with Genevieve has been wonderful. Over the months, Genevieve’s perspective coupled with …

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The vision behind the brand: Interview with Virginia Bruce, CEO of Hands.

In 2006, Virginia Bruce, a social entrepreneur with over 25 years experience as an international brand and business developer, was approached to turn the Hands That Shape Humanity exhibition into a global brand.

Virginia Bruce is currently the CEO of the REAL Group, a collective of businesses focused on realising the positive potential of people, business, brands and communities through the harnessing of design and creativity and for the past 7 years, she has invested significant funds and time in developing Hands That Shape Humanity into a social enterprise that crosses media, education, arts, retail and design.

Following is an interview with Virginia Bruce on the vision behind the brand, the role of creativity in developing an inspiring social enterprise, and Virginia’s personal message for humanity, inspiring ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary.

+ The R.E.A.L Group aims to merge profit and philanthropy into a sustainable business model. In which ways does this approach redefine both the traditional business model, as well as the traditional charity …

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‘Life in Parts’ by Santina Ingui.

Following the ‘S.E.A.T Project‘, and ‘Protect the Child‘, ‘Life in Parts‘ by Santina Ingui is the third mentorship offered by Hands That Shape Humanity in partnership with the College of Fine Arts in Sydney.

Hands That Shape Humanity is a social enterprise which forms a part of the R.E.A.L Group, a collective of businesses ranging across retail (the R.E.A.L Store), social enterprise (Hands That Shape Humanity) and brand consultancy.

Virginia Bruce, CEO of the R.E.A.L Group, describes why Santina’s project resonates with the group’s conscious approach to design:

“In principle, the Hand Up mentoring program is about having the design graduates create ‘an ordinary product with an extraordinary message’ and in the process create social positive impact and/or change. They are also asked to include themselves in the process. With ‘Life in Parts’ Santina ticked all the boxes, immersing her personal journey and cultural history into the execution of her idea. There is something about what Santina has produced that touches the essence of spirit that we are looking to find.”

Following is an in-depth interview with the artist on her project, …

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Shop ethically and choose the story you’ll tell this Christmas.

As the Christmas shopping season hits its stride, it can be hard to remember the pleasure one gets from picking just the right gift, for a family member, a friend or a child. Stressed and under pressure as the big day approaches, we have all made purchases we might have thought better of, if given a chance to stop and think.

A market dominated by the products of outsourced mass manufacturing has symmetrically brought on the revival of the handmade, the local, the custom and the pre-loved, available through arts and crafts markets, independent retailers and online, where artisans have found a direct path to their customers. More than commodities, these objects tell stories we all like to hear – about their makers, their origins, the inspiration and aspirations behind them.

The R.E.A.L Group, headed by CEO Virginia Bruce, is a collective of businesses that crosses retail (the r.e.a.l store), Social enterprise (Hands That Shape Humanity) and Brand consultancy. With over 25 years of experience in brand consultancy, strategic marketing, brand licensing and creative product design, …

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