Wild and Kind
Wild and Kind, a social enterprise based in Glasgow, focusses on minimising isolation and loneliness for people with marginalised gender identities. Profits made from ethical merchandise sales fund workshops, meet-ups, and community events for women and those out with the gender binary.
In May 2020, we had a chat with Trudi Donahue, founder of Wild and Kind, to talk about her experience starting a social enterprise.
What was your inspiration for starting Wild and Kind?
We started running free craft workshops for women back in 2016. At the time it was really in response to our own needs. After working alone from home for years I was craving casual, fun social interaction that didn’t involve alcohol. We quickly realised that we weren’t the only ones that were lonely and seeking this kind of comfort, and after speaking with numerous attendees about their lives and troubles, we realised that not having a community where you feel you belong has a huge impact on people’s confidence and mental health. This is where we realised that there was a huge need for safe social spaces for women and people from marginalised gender groups.
I already ran a small embroidery business and so we used my experience and knowledge of the merch industry to start printing and selling t-shirts as a way to generate funds to facilitate our workshops and hangouts. I didn’t actually know what a Community Interest Company was back then, but when it came time to really pushing forward with Wild & Kind we felt that the structure of a CIC resonated with our morals as we believe that company profits should benefit the community.
What was most challenging about getting your social enterprise started?
For me it was really difficult getting my head around the legal side of running a CIC. It took me 2 years to finalise a board of directors because I really wanted to get it right. My only experience in business was as a sole trader so it was a huge learning curve. I’ve been lucky to have such great support from lots of great organisations in Glasgow, and I’ve learnt that the advice and support is out there, you just have to find it and ask for help when you need it. I feel much more confident as a director now, but even after 3 years I’ve still got lots to learn!
What are your top tips for social entrepreneurs?
Starting a social enterprise is hard. You’re not just navigating the uncertain path of starting a business, but you’re also focussing on delivering social impact at the same time, and sometimes that can be hard, sometimes it is impossible. There’s times where we’ve had to put our social activities on hold to build the business and you have to allow for things like that to happen from time to time if it means the organisation is more likely to be sustainable in the long run.
The best advice I could offer social enterprises is to ask for help and really focus on building your network. Find the organisations in your area that can offer support, talk to other CICs and social enterprises for their advice and experience and ask your community what you can do for them, and see what they can do for you. There are lots of amazing ways you can skill share with members of your community in the early days to help you get on your feet.
We’re always open to chatting with other social enterprises and start ups looking for advice or just a friendly chat so we encourage anyone looking for some new pals in the social enterprise world to get in touch!
What are your future plans for Wild and Kind?
We’ve been rapidly evolving as an enterprise. We started off simply printing garments and doing a small amount of embroidery, but in recent months we achieved our long term goal of opening a female focused creative collective in Glasgow. Timing hasn’t been great, as we opened our space just as the coronavirus pandemic virus was developing so we’re closed throughout the duration of lockdown. But once back up and on our feet our aim to to be running free workshops and hangouts every day of the week for women and people outwith the gender binary. We’re also working on a few projects that will drastically impact the lives of people in the local community; a counselling service and a program to help support women from areas of deprivation into the creative industry. We will continue to raise funds through direct to garment printing, but we will also soon offer Risograph printing and eco friendly screen printing. All of our equipment is also accessible to members of our creative community.
Wild and Kind has been growing steadily over the last five years, gaining popularity with businesses and individuals nationwide. We initially spoke to Trudi in May 2020, when Wild and Kind had received both Start It and Build It from Firstport. Since then, the social enterprise has continued to grow and secure funding, being awarded Boost It and recently securing a place on LaunchMe.
By securing a place on LaunchMe, they hope to realise their ambition of becoming one of the UK’s leading ethical garment print and embroidery companies, providing safe and meaningful employment opportunities while creating social change.
We caught up with Trudi Donahue, founder and director of Wild and Kind, to reflect on the journey so far, and talk about what is coming next.
We are so excited to be a part of LaunchMe. Firstport have been there for us right from the start, and the support they’ve given us over the years is the reason why we are where we are now.
We’ve been growing steadily over the last 12 months, but it hasn’t been without its challenges. I’m hoping that LaunchMe will help me build the skills needed to manage the finance and development side of the company so that we can scale up to be a relatively large organisation, providing jobs and deliver even more social impact over the coming months.