We love a hearty dose of fashion here at BOE, and we’re also keen to hear about exciting new initiatives. So when we learnt about Connected Generation, a t-shirt social enterprise that aims to make a real difference to young people’s lives, then we were all ears.
Launched in March and founded by Matt Oakley and Paddy Hanrahan, the mission is simple – to connect those inspired to create and those who buy with a conscience. Connected Generation sell ethical, high-quality t-shirts featuring a wide range of designs, which can be submitted by the customers themselves, and for every t-shirt sold, a donation is made to a children’s charity. So you get the chance to be arty, while also knowing you’re doing a good deed.
But it doesn’t just end there – the customer and designer will be regularly updated on the effect their donation is having. It’s about sharing creativity, sharing stories, and sharing hope for change.
We caught up with Matt to learn more about Connected Generation.
What was your inspiration for the brand?
“I came up with the idea when my daughter Eve, then 7, showed me a doodle on holiday. My first thought when I saw it was ‘that it would look great on a T-shirt.’ Then I thought it would be inspiring for anyone to see their own design on a T-shirt and, at the same time, help another young person.”
What makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace?
“There are a lot of t-shirt design sites online at the moment, but having ordered from them, I have found the quality hasn’t really been up to scratch. We offer top-of-the-line, lovingly finished, personalised t-shirt that are produced to the highest ethical standards and delivered promptly.”
Why did you decide on ethical branding?
“As a business with a conscience, it is crucial to us that our products are ethically produced. We work with suppliers that share our beliefs and are committed to conducting business in a socially responsible way. They must meet all international standards and commit to paying their staff a fair, living wage. All our t-shirts are 100% combed cotton and supplied by certified Fair Wear manufacturers and suppliers.”
Which charities do you currently support?
“One of our founding principles was our ambition to work with children’s charities that share our desire to improve transparency in charitable giving and to transform the way people stay connected to the projects that they support. We are developing our network of charity partners all the time, and are currently working with two inspiring organisations helping younger people both here in the UK and overseas, Newcastle-based international children’s charity Coco and Kids Company, which provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children, young people and families.”
What are your plans for the brand moving forward?
“It’s still early days at the moment as we are a relatively new business, but over the next year, we intend to develop our brand and cultivate customer loyalty through the quality of our product and the visible impact that purchases have on vulnerable young people.”
If you would like to find out more about how you can help young people in need whilst buying great t-shirts, please visit www.connectedgeneration.org.