Friday, August 26, 2011

Tees at Risk Rocks The UK All The Way To 10 Downing Street

You may know Tees at Risk for our awesome, publicly-available tees designed by at-risk youth- but did you know that we do custom designs as well? We have been able to mobilize our network of talented, youthful artists to produce eye-catching and inspirational t-shirt designs commissioned by great organizations, and I'll profile some of them in this blog.

A few months ago we were contacted by digi steps, a fantastic volunteer organization based at the Avonbourne School in Bournemouth, in southern England. The young women of dig steps, led by the project coordinator, Kathryn Loughnan, volunteer their time to teach elderly neighbors how to use the computers and the Internet, which can be a critical lifeline to their families and the outside world.

Digi steps asked us to create their “staff” t-shirts – the shirts that their girls would wear while conducting their volunteer work. They also mentioned that the program would be getting “an award” – little did we know that the award was the prestigious “Big Society Award” given out by none other than British PM David Cameron himself. Unfortunately we didn’t produce a men’s shirt for the PM, but the girls looked great in their Tees at Risk t-shirts at the various awards ceremonies.

But that wasn’t all – in July the digi steps volunteers received another prestigious award from the British Interactive Media Association. This time they were decked out in their Tees at Risk tees on the podium, and we’ve got the pics to prove it.

We decided to give the proceeds from our digi steps design commission to a great organization, the Youth for Technology Foundation, a nonprofit that teaches technology to underprivileged kids in Africa. We thought that would be a great way to bring the work of digi steps full circle –from kids teaching elderly how to use the Net, to helping underprivileged kids learn how to use the Net.

The see the digi steps girls in action, watch this video (skip to the 14:18 mark). And above is a shot of our t-shirt design, complete with the special QR Code.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To B or Not to B: Why We Became a Certified B Corp

Tees at Risk is very proud to have passed the certification requirements of B Labs, and is one of the first apparel companies to become a Certified B Corporation.

You are probably familiar with the two common categories of companies: non-profits, and for-profits. But what type of company is a company like Tees at Risk, which is technically not a non-profit (we don’t raise donations from anyone, and therefore we don’t need to be what’s known as a “501(c)(3)”, or tax-exempt company), but serves a social purpose?

A “B Corp”, or Benefit Corporation, is a new type of company whose corporate charter contains a mandate to do some good for society, some social benefit, even if that mandate doesn’t directly help (or in some cases hurts) profitability. There’s no tax benefit for “being a B” – so why do it?

In our case, we wanted to call attention to our unique business model, of literally giving away a portion of the sales proceeds from every shirt we sell, to a worthy charity that services youth. Contributing to society is in our corporate DNA. We went through hoops to get certified by B Labs, because we wanted the external validation that our “cycle of benefit” business model which empowers artistic at-risk youth and drives money to youth causes, met the rigorous criteria established by B Labs to identify companies like us that truly help society.

When we created Tees at Risk, we wanted to “do well by doing good.” Being a B Corp helps us project that message.

Click here to visit our company’s profile on the B Labs website.

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