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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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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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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Ethical Fashion: Doing good has never looked so good.

Hands’ cares about the ethical, social and environmental origins of its initiatives, embracing fair trade and low impact practices, seeking only to work with people who share this commitment. We believe that a company can be profitable and have a strong conscience.

This summer, in partnership with Myer, Hands’ joined forces with the Ethical Fashion initiative, an International Trade Centre initiative, focused on creating opportunities to connect “the world’s most marginalised people to the top of fashion’s value chain for mutual benefit”. This isn’t about charity, it’s about “organizing and allocating resources in such a way that this profit is also shared with the first stages. This is ethical fashion,” explains Simone Cipriani, the man at the head of this initiative.

Most of the workers employed by Ethical Fashion are women, whose empowerment is a major driving force of this initiative, along with eradicating extreme poverty. By fostering local creativity and enabling female employment, a sense of balance is restored in communities where women have generally had little to no independence from their fathers, brothers, husbands.

These programs radically change …

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The SEAT Project featured in MiNDFOOD

Great news: our favourite little S.E.A.T. is featured in the December 2011 issue of MiNDFOOD magazine!

Grab a copy and take a look at page 64, where Virginia and the ALNF’s Kim Kelly talk about The S.E.A.T. Project, the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) and the impact they are having on Indigenous literacy. You’ll also learn more about how the Project is allowing us to educate local kids on sustainable and ethical consumption.

“If you can’t read and write, you don’t have any opportunities,” Kelly says. “I think Australia needs to get behind change when it comes to our Indigenous kids and give them the same opportunities that kids get in the cities, and I think S.E.A.T does that.”

What do you think?

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