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Ethical Shopping

Get an edge to your ethical clothing with The Social Mercenary

The social enterprise has brought backpacks, t-shirts and caps with a West African flavour to The Big Issue Shop

The Social Mercenary

The Social Mercenary (TSM) does ethical clothing with a difference.

Its colourful caps, t-shirts and backpacks take the unmistakable flavour of West Africa and bring it to modern street apparel.

TSM’s ethically made gear, produced in partnership with Ethical Apparel Africa, is lovingly crafted in Ghana using local fabrics and supporting local communities with jobs in factories that are high quality and adhere to WRAP principles.

Auntie Alfie The Social Mercenary
Auntie-Alfie-The-Social-Mercenary
Auntie Alfie is just one of the Ghanaian women helped by The Social Mercenary

Its crucial work helps people like Aunty Alfie. She’s a seamstress, not an uncommon job for Ghanaian women. But unlike many, she is also an entrepreneur and the owner of Alfie Designs.

She started out providing training, giving others the skills needed to progress in the industry. But she could not afford to keep staff on once they mastered their techniques.

The-Social-Mercenary-backpack

With the support of Ethical Apparel Africa, she was able to slowly bring in more clients and boost the volumes of clothes she was able to sell – and staff she was able to hire.

Now, Alfie and her daughter run a factory with over 50 employees and have expanded their operation to tighten up quality control while introducing mass production techniques and working conditions that meet international standards.

As a result, workers can work without fear for their safety while earning a fair wage, and all the profits from TSM’s clothing goes back into keeping it that way.

And it is these values that led to Jack Fellows, TSM founder, joining up with The Big Issue Shop.

“The Social Mercenary was based on the premise that for too long ethical clothing has been a nice to have rather than a necessity and at the heart of this is really valuing people and their work,” he says.

“Our first connection with homelessness came when we connected over email with Jacob a young boy who raised £3,560 for supplies to give the homeless just before Christmas and guess what he needed? Yes, Backpacks! We thought it was wonderful to donate our products that had been made with such love and care in Ghana to such a loving and dignifying project.

The Social Mercenary
The-Social-Mercenary-1

Now Jack is hoping that TSM’s personal stories will help it stand out just as much as its colourful clobber does.

He adds: “What do we give to TBI Shop? We create really different and unique products all inspired from West Africa with incredible stories of the people that help craft the products. We help bring variety and a personal story to the collection of products in the store.”

Find The Social Mercenary in The Big Issue Shop here.

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For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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