5 Inspiring and Socially Responsible Brands

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The American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” The spirit of giving is alive and well despite the ongoing fight against COVID-19. One could say it has even contributed to the emergence of a ‘conscious consumerist’ landscape. A study by YouGov in July 2020 found that Singaporeans are more likely to interact with socially responsible brands during the pandemic. 79% expressed that they are more likely to buy from brands with a strong social conscience. As concerns for climate change and national welfare alter our buying habits, our social responsibility towards fellow human beings are coming to the fore. Engaging in frontline humanitarian work might be a distant reality for some, but there are numerous ways to get involved in your own backyard. From volunteering at your local charity to making ethical purchases with a guilt-free conscience. We have put together a list of brands with social responsibility at their core.

1. The Art Faculty

The Art Faculty (TAF) is a social enterprise started by the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore)* as a platform to celebrate the abilities of people with autism and related challenges. It features the artwork and merchandise of talented students and alumni of Pathlight School who are in the school’s Artist Development Programme (ADP). TAF promotes and showcases the special talents of artists by embellishing their art onto quality and functional products. For every sale of artwork and product, TAF’s differently-abled artists earn royalties and learn the value of work and financial independence.

The latest collection features Singapore landmarks like this laptop bag showcasing Chai Chee shophouse, by artist Selena Seow. Remember the blue dinosaur pouch that went viral online back in 2016 when our Prime Minister’s wife, Ms Ho Ching, visited the White House? The original dinosaur print by artist, Seetoh Sheng Jie, receives an update in this cute foldable umbrella.

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The Art Faculty Laptop Bag, Chai Chee Shophhouse | The Art Faculty Foldable Umbrella Lightweight, Dino Grey

*Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) or ARC is a not-for-profit charity based in Singapore. Officially set up in 2000, it was started by professionals and parent volunteers. ARC(S) is dedicated to serving children and adults on the autism spectrum, to help these individuals lead meaningful and independent lives in society. ARC offers a wide range of services: Early Intervention, Pathlight School, Autism Intervention, Training and Consultancy (AITC), Student Enrichment, Employability & Employment Centre (E2C), Library and Information Services and two social enterprises The Art Faculty and Professor Brawn.

2. Helping Hands Penan (HHP)

Helping Hands Penan (HHP) is a charity dedicated to the welfare of the Penan tribe in Sarawak, Borneo. Founded by a group of expat wives over eight years ago, HHP’s mission is to empower the women in the Penan community to support their families. Special focus is given towards educating the children. As the saying goes, “Empower a girl, transform a community”. HPP strives to educate boys and girls from pre-school to university level.

The Penan originally lived a nomadic way of life as hunter-gatherers, who relied on the natural resources of the rainforest. However, commercial activities like logging and oil palm plantations have pushed them into resettlement sites as their natural way of life is challenged. Over the years, HPP has worked with the rattan weavers to update and modernise their bag designs. Weavers set their own prices and are paid upfront for their bags. The profits earned by HHP are channelled back to the community through welfare programmes, education opportunities, and infrastructure upgrades.

These bags are perfect to carry your essentials on a casual weekend outing. We just love the beautiful woven details that give off a resort vibe.

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Helping Hands Penan Basket Weave Bags, Blue & White | Helping Hands Penan Basket Weave Bag, Blue

3. Mustard Sky

Mustard Sky was founded by four friends with a dream to help the poor and marginalised communities in Asia. The Singapore-based social enterprise partners with organisations in countries like Cambodia, India, and Thailand to create opportunities for disadvantaged individuals, including those who are stateless, disabled, or impoverished. Their tagline “Empowering Makers” sums it up. Every maker or beneficiary receives the support of community leaders and mentors in a safe environment, where their physical and spiritual needs are tended to. They are taught sewing skills to produce handicrafts for sale. The sale proceeds enable the makers to earn a sustainable income to support their families. With every purchase you make, you are empowering an individual to break free from the cycle of poverty.

Mustard Sky’s collection of bags and pouches feature bold and cheerful prints. The Doggy Happy Bag is a great gift for animal lovers. The Wings Gadget Pouch is a good-sized canvas pouch to keep your essentials handy on-the-go. Use it to store anything from USB cables to cosmetics. The print detail resembles dragonfly wings, symbolising the courage to soar high with your dreams.

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Mustard Sky Doggy Happy Bag, Blue | Mustard Sky Wings Gadget Pouch, Black

4. Anothersole

Anothersole fits the bill for the elusive ‘comfy shoes’ category in our wardrobe. Say goodbye to blisters with a pair of these stylish lace-ups that are as light as air. Each pair weighs approximately 280 grams. That’s less than a can of coke! These high quality leather shoes are affordably priced and definitely worth purchasing, because a percentage of profits goes to a very good cause. The brand’s Buy1Feed1 initiative donates 10% of sales towards feeding hungry children and building sustainable communities for the poor. While the brand focuses primarily on supplying food and shelter for the children, they are also involved in efforts that impact the whole community like providing jobs, education, and sanitation to ensure a brighter future for the younger generation. Their ultimate goal is to contribute $1 million a year towards social causes.

Help another soul in need by purchasing a pair today. Anothersole Holly II Maca is made with 100% Argentinean nappa bovine leather and a flexible rubber sole. The versatile style and neutral shade is ideal for work, play, or travel. Effectuating positive changes in the world begins one step at a time.

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Anothersole Holly II Maca

5. Coq en Pâte

Save the animals! Coq en Pâte is on a mission to do just that. The French brand for babies and kids has created a range of clothing and accessories inspired by the animal kingdom. At the heart of the business is a commitment to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and environmental sustainability. The brand donates 3% of sales to the Save our Species (SOS) programme run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). SOS strives to protect vulnerable and endangered species through habitat management and collaboration with local communities to reduce unsustainable practices that are a threat to wildlife. To date, Coq en Pâte has collected €58,400 for the programme and is committed to a goal of €150,000 in 5 years.

Their latest line-up of products features animal prints that are too cute to resist. From t-shirts to backpacks, each unique design is thoughtfully made from eco-friendly or recycled materials. The textiles in the collection are 100% certified organic cotton from India, so your little one will feel comfortable all day long. Whether you choose to be a benefactor of mankind or the animals, we hope these social causes inspire a warm gush of empathy to pay it forward. 

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Coq en Pâte  Kids Short Sleeve T-Shirt Lion | Coq en Pâte Backpack Toucan

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