My Side Hustle: The editor and the social entrepreneur
In the spotlight: Sarah Hecks, Associate Editorial Director and award-winning social entrepreneur.
How did you get into creating yoga kit bags?
My side hustle started on the yoga mat, or to be precise, in the changing room after a disgustingly sweaty vinyasa practise. Chatting with a yoga buddy after class (my now business partner David), we discussed how annoying it was not to have anything other than a plastic bag to stuff our damp workout gear in.
And that is where the idea was sparked – to create something beautiful, functional and watertight to stash our kit in and to also reduce plastic waste. But being of the yogic philosophy, we also wanted to be able to give back, which is why we made Project_Sweat a social enterprise-giving 50 per cent of all our profits to two partner charities to empower women through education and design.
What inspires the projects and initiatives for Project_Sweat?
The simple idea that a better kitbag can make a world of difference inspires the projects for Project_Sweat. Our company strapline is, ‘designed by women, for women to support women.’ And we always ensure that we are delivering on this.
The designs for our bags are created through our partnership with Central St. Martins, University of the Arts by some kickass female graduates which we turn into viable products. This not only gives the female students a platform to showcase their designs, but 25 per cent of our profits go back to CSM to help students receive the training and support they need to realise their creative potential. To substantiate this, we’ve also partnered with the Asian University for Women. Their initiative, Pathways for Promise, identifies high-potential clothing factory workers and provides them with the academic and financial support they need to become the next future leaders. They shared the mission to empower women in the fashion supply chain, and so fitted Project_Sweat perfectly.
Does social media play a part in your side hustle?
Social media plays a huge part in our side hustle, we are fully set up for e-commerce on Instagram and that is where are a lot of our sales are coming from. We’re trying to grow our presence online more though, so ***cue shameless plug*** please follow us at @Project_Sweat.
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Ditch the plastic bag and pick up one of our waterproof kitbags instead. Guaranteed to make you feel good long after your workout. #workout #fitness #active #activewear #gym #fit #yoga #surf #socialenterprise #sweat #women #bag #surfing #bikram #whomademyclothes #saynotoplastic #waterproof #sustainable #sweatproof #splashproof #charity
Is there a particular community on social media that engages with the project?
We’ve built a following among fellow yogis, we’ve had a couple of established teachers with a good social presence road-test our bags, which has been fantastic BUT I hasten to add, the bags aren’t just great for yoga ***cue another shameless plug*** they’re brilliant for all sports. I use mine for surfing to stash my wetsuit in (seriously, they’re like a Tardis).
Where do you see Project_Sweat going in the future?
There is a really unromantic reality behind any beautiful idea and when I started looking into how to turn our idea into action, my initial reaction was WTF?! It was really overwhelming. It blew my mind of what was actually involved to get even a small-scale project up and running from fabric costs, gross margins, net margins, ethical supply chains, IPCs, operational expenses, EBITA… seriously, the list was endless. The further I got into a social enterprise wormhole, the more I was banging my head against my desk, wishing I had someone to give me practical advice and help (as well as a hug or two).
The big ambition for Project_Sweat (not only to create even more products like workout gear and mat towels featuring our beautiful designs) is I want to grow it into a platform to teach women how to do business differently. It’s about giving them a model, advice and a forum, so that the quiet confidence they have in their idea can actually be turned into a viable business, because we will have given them the practicalities to achieve it.
What’s the best piece of motivational advice you’ve ever heard?
The best motivational advice I was given was not the usual ‘take risks, be bold, blah, blah, blah’, which I think can feel quite contrived, it was actually said to me when things weren’t going to plan and I was being down on everything, it forced me to be a lot kinder to myself. “Lower your expectations and claim a quiet victory.”
Check out Project Sweat on Instagram @project_sweat, and on our channel @wearesocial now.