Nicole Jowett has created a multi-faceted new model for giving back. Her T-Shirts for Change is a profit for purpose T-Shirt and apparel brand that supports the causes you care about. 50% of proceeds from every t-shirt sold are donated to the associated charity cause. She tells us more.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Nicole Jowett, I live in Johannesburg and I’m the founder of T-Shirts for Change.
Tell us about how T-Shirts for Change started.
In 2017, I started to become more aware of women’s rights issues in the media. I wanted to express my alignment with women’s rights through a t-shirt but couldn’t find the exact t-shirt I wanted in any stores. I decided to have one made myself; it was more economical to print 10 t-shirts than to print one. I figured I would sell them to my friends, never expecting it to be a business. I said that I would donate all proceeds from the t-shirts sold to a women’s shelter in celebration of Women’s Day. This once-off initiative grew from there into something much bigger than I could have ever imagined.
Tell us about the different partners that you work with today.
I have done my best to diversify my charity partners, with proceeds going to causes including women’s rights, animal rights, education, and LGBTI+ rights. Women’s rights still remains a strong focus as 3 of my partners are women-orientated: Frida Hartley Women’s Shelter, Dress for Success, and Philani Maternal are all focused on empowering women and children.
Frida Hartley Women's Shelter provides a safe place for destitute women and children. They provide accommodation, meals, career counseling, trauma counseling, skills training and more.
Philani is committed to providing caring and supportive community-based services, promoting family health, support of pregnant mothers, care for newborn babies and children and limiting the suffering of families infected and affected by HIV.
Dress for Success Cape Town is part of a global movement of change, empowering women to obtain safer and better futures. They provide women with professional attire to secure employment, as well as career programs.
Vision Afrika Education, is based in Cape Town. They provide educational programs to underprivileged children.
Maltese, French Poodle & Yorkie Rescue of South Africa is a dog shelter for small to midsize dogs based in Johannesburg. They do essential work in rescuing small breeds from puppy mills and rehoming abandoned and abused dogs.
Gala is a centre for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexual, and Queer culture in South Africa. They act as a catalyst for the production, preservation, dissemination of knowledge on this history, culture, and experiences of LGBTIQ people.
I would love to include all charities in my initiative, but at the moment I’m doing the best I can with my fledgling brand.
Social Media has been instrumental in getting your campaign out there. Would you consider the main audience to be Millennials?
Social media has been an invaluable tool in getting the campaign out there - the majority of my customer base is Millennials, who are aware of their power as consumers and want to make the best choices they can. That shows just how retailers will have to adapt for the coming generations of consumers.
Adidas has collaborated with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans to invent an eco-innovative range of Adidas running shoes. You are joining them in weaving a solution to the worldwide problem of plastic pollution. Tell us more about your brand new tee launching in May 2019.
I am so excited about the new rPET tees that are launching in May! In the beginning of 2019, I was looking for inspiration on how to stay relevant and move the brand forward and I noticed a trend in media focusing more and more on the war on plastic. The rPET tees are made from 50% recycled polyester, and 50% certified organic cotton for ultimate comfort and a luxurious feel. One rPET t-shirt equals two plastic bottles; using rPET prevents plastics from ending up in landfill and our oceans, and uses less resource to make too.
Would you say this raises the bar on having a brand that values ethical consciousness?
Absolutely yes, I knew I needed to take steps towards being environmentally-conscious as a brand if I wanted to truly be an ethical brand.
Any future plans for collaborations or expanding the brand to other countries?
I am planning to collaborate with The Glam green Girl on the rPET tees, I also have a collaboration with a local artist in the pipeline,but can’t say much about that yet. Expansion into other countries is on the cards but later on down the line.
Name your most memorable encounter, since starting T-Shirts for Change.
Seeing my t-shirts on the cover of the COSMO Influencer Issue in March 2018 was a real pinch-me moment that I could never even have dreamt up.
What is your focus for the year ahead?
My focus is definitely going to be the new rPET tees, and building on that environmentally ethical side of business, including packaging and other processes.
Name your favorite T-Shirt.
My favorite t-shirt is a tossup between START A REVOLUTION, and WILD FEMINIST.
Tell us about the Yoga Journal.
In 2016 I started a yoga publication and online directory called Yoga Journal. Unfortunately it didn’t work out, and while it broke my heart, I later learnt that there has been a reason for that failure.
Are you an adrenalin junkie or culture vulture, when on holiday?
Neither! I like to use my holidays to exercise and read, go to a spa, and recharge.
You are having lunch with 3 influential people. Who would it be and why?
Local artist, Karabo Poppy – I’m obsessed with her work and style. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she’s a true embodiment of a fearless woman. Ellen Degeneres or Ricky Gervais, they’re both funny and both have important things to say.
Favorite quote or mantra to live by.
“Here you are living, despite it all” _ Rupi Kaur.