It is powerful to note that our insight does not come from a psychology 101 lecture but from the makers of our slow clothing label: some have experienced the worst human rights abuses on earth.
The Possibility Project is a social enterprise, founded by Kath Davis and Kim Pearce. Their principle aim is to bring simple solutions to complex issues by encouraging people to take a creative (entrepreneurial) approach to problem solving.
About a month after meeting Kath while walking my kids to their new school in Sydney, and over our first cup of tea, I asked Kath if she would like to join me with some work I was doing in Jaipur in India. She pretty much agreed immediately. To this day it’s Kath’s spontaneity and faith in the unknown, combined with my love of learning and teaching that keeps us moving forward.
We set off to Jaipur in February 2013: it was during this trip ‘The Possibility Project’ (TPP) and ‘slumwear108’ were seeded. Even though I had taught business studies for over 20 years, The Possibility Project has been all about un-learning what I knew about starting a business and just doing! I had to embrace the idea of failure and let go of ego (pretty much the same thing), something that came naturally to Kath and in this space anything is truly possible.
We now collaborate with a Jaipurbased non-government organisation (NGO) called I-India, which has been helping slum communities for over 20 years. TPP works closely with their vocational training projects and together we have created a slow clothing range called slumwear108 – we also like to call it ‘possibility materialised’.
slumwear108 slow clothing label
The idea is to see what we can create with what we already have. slumwear108 is made by former street youths (male and female) and men and women who live below the poverty line, so we promote work that is both good for community and the planet.
The Indian term for ‘slum’ is Jhuggi, and it describes the ability to fashion what you want out of what you already have. slumwear108 imbues the Jhuggi spirit of resourcefulness. One of our passions at The Possibility Project is to tap into our creative ‘slum’ and nurture the immense value in the resources we have at hand. Kath is a trained milliner, and has many years’ experience in the fashion industry – so she is brilliant at putting together all the products.
We use the journey of a slumwear108 product to gently flip mindsets. Each piece is lovingly made with fabrics sourced in India, sometimes new, sometimes preloved and stitched with pride and dignity at I-India’s vocational training centres. Just like its makers, every piece of slumwear108 has a story that makes it incredibly unique, and each purchase deepens our ability to serve one another.
Our ability to create a slow clothing label has come from four simple attitudes demonstrated to us by these slum communities, where we have come to witness the power of people who choose to step into their mastery, to believe in their gifts and share them.
- Compassion – Anything is possible.
- Abundance – We already have what we need to create what we want
- Mastery – Everybody has a gift to offer
- Purpose – win-wins create magnificent solutions
It is powerful to note that our insight does not come from a psychology 101 lecture but from the makers of our slow clothing label, some of whom have experienced the worst human rights abuses on earth.
Sales from slumwear108 directly support the development of Sparrow Sanitation, one of our most exciting projects with I-India. This is an affordable, 100% biodegradable, energy efficient compostable sanitary pad enterprise that is owned and managed by I-India and their co-workers. Like all social justice issues, sanitary health is a community issue, not a gender, income or cultural specific issue, so we are approaching it holistically. Men and women work alongside each other to solve problems together. We are creating unity within diversity because we have inspired leaders who are willing to move beyond the status quo.
Solutions have to unite people. There is no real social justice if one group is elevated at the expense of another. We have learnt that what we have in common is our ability to respond to our problems creatively. Inspired leaders believe that regardless of income, age, gender, ethnicity, and circumstance, everyone has what it takes to create what is needed.
Most of us get trapped into thinking that our problems, failures and fears can somehow stop us from doing what we want or need to do. Yet our inspired leaders in Jaipur demonstrate quite the contrary, showing us that we all have the potential to create change where it is needed.
At home we do events and speaking engagements that promote greater mental wellbeing (our biggest social justice issue). We share the insights learnt from our experiences in the slums, in the hope of inspiring a different solution to mental health issues; we share the background stories of our makers and design engagements that inspire and empower local audiences to action their own dreams, goals, and intentions. We encourage people to take ‘agency’ over their choices through creative thinking. We have popups at these engagements to enhance the sale of slumwear108. They become very warm, engaging gatherings where people feel inspired and empowered, realising that mental health can be approached from a non-medical, non-prescriptive approach – we speak about a very common sense approach to life adversities.
We have also developed The Possibility School, which is our way of sharing an innovative social justice platform with Australian school communities. We offer a mindset of creative thinking and hands on projects that can be easily used to reimagine solutions to some of our most difficult problems.
We are so very privileged to call this ‘work’. The incredible people we meet, the festivals, the music, the travel, the creative individuals who are our colleagues, the cycles we see broken, the amazing people with whom we collaborate, what a wonderful and joyous way to share this life, full of gratitude and laughs.