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Social Studio is an inspiring space that brings together the creativity and skills of Melbourne’s refugee community with recycled and excess materials from local industry to create original garments. It's an inspiring story of how getting involved can help give a community hope and a sustainable future.
Social Studio assists disadvantaged groups to achieve their dreams through social enterprise. The organisation has already opened it’s own café and launched a series of events from weekly talks by designers as well as workshops on remixing existing garments to create something new.
we asked CEO and founder of Social Studio Grace McQuilten just what it takes to start changing the world you live in today.
Sportsgirl: The hardest thing for people trying to make a difference in the world is often where to start. Can you tell us about the birth of Social Studio and how you initially got started?
Grace McQuilten: The Social Studio was a proactive and direct response to seeing many talented young people from the refugee community who were struggling financially and socially. Many young people who have come to Australia from war-torn countries have to support themselves financially and often have to send money to family members living in difficult circumstances overseas. It is very hard to get a job when you have never worked before, and when your English is not perfect, and when you don't have social networks in a new country. The Social Studio is a dynamic attempt to turn this situation around. Starting up was the easy part, because so many people recognised the need and wanted to support the initiative. Understanding the problem, however, took several years of engaged community work.
SG: There are so many ways that you can engage a community why did you choose fashion as a focus for your work?
GM: Fashion is the focus of The Social Studio because it is fun, creative, and empowering. It offers an outlet for cultural expression, and provides skill development in many different areas - from manufacturing and design to retail, business and administration! It is also an industry with a lot of excess and waste which we believe can be used in environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial ways. Most importantly, newly arrived communities in Australia have got an abundance of beauty, style, and fashions to share. We can learn so much from other cultures and the Social Studio offers this opportunity.
SG: You’re officially launching your first collection on the 5th of December at Federation Square, Melbourne can you tell us about what we can expect from the collection and the launch?
GM: Our first collection features designs that have been developed in the Studio through collaboration from our young designers with experienced mentors from the industry. Our launch event will feature two fashion parades - the first showcases the Remixed Design range, which are original designs created from rrecycled garments. The second will feature our in-house Social Studio collection, which is a new range of clothing produced from reclaimed fabrics. At the heart of the range is the idea of beautiful draping fabric in shapes that work across different lengths and body types.
SG: How can people get involved with Social Studio and how can they help?
GM: People can get involved with The Social Studio by attending our public events, which include Remixed Workshops every first and third Saturday of the month, and weekly talks by leading local designers. You can donate to our community work online through our website www.thesocialstudio.org, which will help us enormously to achieve our goals. You can purchase our garments from our store at 128 Smith St in Collingwood, and from our "mobile shopping carts" which will be cruising the city streets starting in the new year. When you purchase a garment, the money you spend goes straight back to the designer who made it for you!
SG: What’s the one piece of advice that you’d give to Sportsgirls who want to make a positive impact on the world around them?
GM: The one piece of advice I would give to young people who want to make a difference is to start now! Don't compromise your values and don't wait for "the right time" - start thinking about the world you want to live in today, and help make it a reality
We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Get involved, Live It, Give It. To find out more about the Social Studio visit their website and head down to the Launch of their first collection at Federation Square, Melbourne on the 5th of December or simply pop into their Collingwood store and say hi!