One Night Stand – Jamie Green
Jamie Green is the founder of One Night Stand sleepwear with a purpose that goes beyond its cheeky innuendos and cute cactus socks (although those are great). One Night Stand donates a meal and the opportunity of employment to homeless youth in Melbourne’s CBD through a ‘one for one’ initiative. It was through first hand experience that Jamie learnt the harsh reality of having nowhere to sleep and put his entrepreneur skills forward into creating change.
What was the reason you went in the direction of sleepwear?
I actually already had the idea years back. It was one of those moments where I made the connection between ‘sleepwear’ and ‘sleeping rough’ and if you’re purchasing something to make your sleep better and also helping someone else to sleep better, I thought it had a really nice synergy. So it just ended up tying in really nicely with what we were trying to support.
How do you source materials and ensure manufacturers are ethical and sustainable in your products?
It’s been the biggest pain in the arse; it took a long time to find the right people. I looked at off shore and on-shore – it was through a connection of mine from the School of Social Enterprises – a company called Pure Pod, (imbed link to their website?) who then put me in touch with Certton (link) who do ethical basics and built up a relationship with Andrew who then became our supplier. Our supply chain is 95% on-shore. The only thing that’s offshore is the cotton that’s grown in India. Our products then get sent to Melbourne to get dyed and woven, then Sydney to get manufactured.
For any brand that chooses to go off-shore – which is totally fine – you want to make sure that whoever you’re dealing with isn’t saying “yeah, my shop is ethical” when it isn’t. That’s why it’s good to find a supplier or someone trustworthy who’s been there and done it before so you can learn. It’s been a huge learning curve and difficult finding the right people but it’s worth it to be able to back your brand.
Your ‘Make a Stand’ crowd-funding campaign where you stood in a Perspex box for 24 hours gained such a big response, how did you react to that?
Yeah, it was great. I intentionally wanted to gain a big response so we had to get a bit creative with our ideas. I got a personal tweet from Richard Branson when it finished which blew my mind. But it was good to see these big mainstream media channels were supporting a start-up business like that.
– maybe remove this question.
Did you always want to start a social enterprise or was it because of your situation that you decided you wanted to put back into the community?
I always thought I’d be an entrepreneur that did something good with my money; I never really sought out to make money for the purpose of making money. It wasn’t until after my experience of sleeping rough that I realised homelessness, especially in youth, was such a big issue.
I always thought to do good you would make a lot of money then give money then I learnt how to actually weave it into business. It wasn’t until I started learning more about social enterprises that I really decided it was what I wanted to be doing and you get to help on a daily basis and not have to sacrifice one for the other.
So how does buying a product from One Night Stand translate into a meal and employment?
Through ‘one for one’ – a purchase of our product correlates into a meal and a wage. One Night Stand streamlines a lot of different non-for-profit organisations into our business model. The cost associated with a single garment provides a meal from a charity partner which is OpenFamily’s Chatterbox Service, 5 nights a week to Melbourne’s CBD. It’s not just a meal, it’s a service where they can get a meal, maybe a fresh pair of socks, or use the Internet on the bus. But what it has really done is open up a dialogue between the youth worker and these young people. The meal provides health, trust and then conversation. We can then figure out what these kids need to get them out of their situations by opening their eyes up to opportunities – such as employment and giving them what they need.
We work with WhiteLion who is an employment service for picking and packing that employ homeless youth. We’ve also been working with Social Studio (link) we’re working with them to start making pyjama shorts – so we just try to embed other company methods with our motto and methods to streamline as much as possible.
Do you get the opportunity to meet many of the people who One Night Stand feeds and employs?
Yeah, I wanted to make sure that what we were actually doing was making a difference, so I volunteer as much as I can. The year before we decided they’d be our Melbourne partners, I’d go out there every fortnight as research and for myself to see how we could make a difference. But now it’s good to see what we’ve built and what we’re supporting is working out and making an impact.
On that note, do you have any figures on the amount of meals you’ve donated and people you’ve helped?
Last month we were able to donate 390 meals, it seems this month we’re going to reach that target too and it all seems to be moving pretty steadily which is great.
What does sustainability and giving back to the community mean to you?
I believe it’s the only way forward. There are already so many companies out there doing this stuff. There’s some really good research from our generation and millennial generations; 84% believe they can make a difference in the world, and the top 3 priorities they have in life are: environment, equality and inspiring others. So with that generation on the rise, and realizing that the consumer can vote with their dollar we’re going to start seeing a rise – which is, even now, beginning to happen. Even big companies like Coca-Cola and other corporations are slowly getting onto the ethical and giving back to the community bandwagon because it’s what the people are wanting and it’s benefiting others. So I believe in every industry there’ll start to be a big social enterprise backing the community within the next 10 years.
The more we get active, the more that companies are going to follow and they can simply change up some of their methods into more environmentally friendly – it doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘one for one’ but it can still be done in a sensible and ethical way for the company and the consumer because the consumer does hold the power.
It’s beginning to become more of a trend as well – but one that looks like it’ll stick around.
Exactly. If companies produce a product that is the exact same product as something they like then they’re going to go with the product that does more for the environment. It’s about slow change and not forcing it upon people.
So what are the plans for the future?
Our next goal is to get into a larger retailer and expand the brand; looking at stocking in a general pants and Co or MYER to start spreading the message to a wider audience.
If that goes well, we’ve got 15-20% of our sales are coming from the US so we’re keen to see what’s happening over there – we’re just starting to research what the market is like. We know that the homelessness issue in LA and San Francisco is huge at the moment, so I’d like to be able to help across many different areas. But our main goal is getting Melbourne and Australia right first.
On the thought of young people making a change, what’s your advice for people thinking of making a difference and starting up a social enterprise?
Surround yourself with good mentors; I’ve always had good people around me when starting up other businesses. But with social enterprises in particular, because you are going out and trying to support or solve an issue, there’s generally a lot of people who have done a similar thing. So learn from them and their successes and what hasn’t worked for them. I was fortunate to receive a scholarship from School of Social Enterprise, which is now Australia-wide, they have some really good with workshops, networking and giving you all the tools you need, so if you’ve got an idea to make a change check them out!