1) Pictures & Videos
2) Description of Activities
A. Independent Manufacturing of Galaxies Spring Collection
January marked the first month when the founder was not on-site monitoring progress. Two months worth of products were submitted in an order with sketches with payment at the end of December, and the workshop operated independently. Work went smoothly with about half of the spring Galaxies collection manufactured. However, the power went out frequently because the local community was updating its electric grid from traditional meters to pre-paid systems. Once this finished, the normal power resumed.
B. Finalized RISE Assessment Process and Began Catching-Up on Reports
After months of discussing and brainstorming a framework for social impact assessment, we decided on a five-step process for our monthly video updates through RISE reports. We then began going back through our records and project notes to catch-up on reports for the first seven months of the project.
C. Revised and Simplified Website
Our original website was built on the Squarespace ecommerce platform. However, this platform did not load easily on the cellular internet in Ghana and also did not have a setting to offer free shipping or for our distributor to have a staff account. We converted to Shopify in December and revised our website again this month with a new layout and template that aims to place focus on the three categories of products - clothes, accessories, and bags - and these RISE reports.
D. Found Artisan to Make Sustainable Bamboo Clips for Backpacks
After producing a small backpack in our fall collection, we decided to make another one. However, most backpacks have adjustable straps, and the clips used to make adjustable straps are typically made of plastic. Not only are these not environmentally sustainable, they are also not very sturdy and break easily. Bamboo is grown in central Ghana and is a reasonably common resource for crafts and building materials, so we decided to search for a crafts-person, who would be willing to carve a three-pronged clip to use for adjustable straps out of bamboo. After searching the local community and visiting many shops around Accra, Matilda managed to locate a crafts-person, who would custom-make the piece for us at the Art Market in Accra for 5 GHS per piece. He produced ten sample bamboo clips for us to try, and Matilda ordered twenty more.
E. Prototyped Knitted Mittens and Hats
Our knitting instructor, Sarah, finished her program training the team in the workshop by examining their completed prototype hats and mittens. After review, we decided that the hat would benefit from having a headband at the bottom so that it would fit snugly and cover the ears. We also determined that a slightly larger loom was needed for the mittens to offer a larger size option in addition to the small size. We also made plans to prototype the addition of a cloth insulating layer inside the glove.
F. Workshop Assistant Started Regular Tutoring in Work + Learn Program
Starting in August, when our first Work + Learn program member began, we have seriously struggled with finding a reliable instructor tutor her for one to two hours every other day. Over the months, we had three different instructors, all of whom were reliable for the first two weeks but then stopped coming. Finally, this January, Matilda secured the teacher she had originally hoped to have, who lives in the immediate neighborhood. Since this instructor began, he has come three times per week, instructing the assistant for an hour and a half on a white board about basic letters, shapes, and counting. Workshop assistant has a positive attitude about the classes and looks forward to them. She spends hours every day writing in her notebook. If her teacher ever is running later, she even retrieves him at his house and scolds him!
G. Boston Photo-Shoot & Posting Photos on Social Media
The founder visited friends of the Matilda Flow Co. project in Boston, USA, who agreed to model some of the clothes they've purchased and some of the new products. These photos were released on social media, starting in early February and have received over double the number of likes as other posts - suggesting that customers, who we are referring to as "tie-dye activists" respond positively to seeing the clothes in familiar locations and weather and on a more diverse group of models.
H. Founder Wore the Products and Shared the Story in Minnesota & Boston
When the founder was at home in Minnesota and visiting Boston, wearing the clothes around town seemed like an effective method of marketing. At least three or four people everyday would ask about the clothes or compliment them. A small informational recycled card should be developed and printed to hand-out to people who want to learn more about the clothes and accessories.
I. Brainstorm of Future MFC Products for People & Pets
Additional product ideas were discussed including a fanny pack, a yoga bag, and a dog mat made from scraps of the sweatshirts and jackets cut apart for reclaiming zippers.
J. Contact & Documentation Processes When Founder Is Off-Site
The founder communicated with Matilda in the workshop by phone once per week. However, her camera on her phone is very poor, preventing her from sending pictures of products or to skype from the workshop. A better camera is needed along with a reliable phone and laptop for sending message and skyping with the founder when off-site. Daily voice memo updates should also be recorded and sent to the founder after the workshop closes each day, summarizing the activities that transpired, any questions or problems that occurred, and any positive stories from the day.
K. Next Location for Marketing Efforts Over Next Six Months
Word of mouth will be critical for the expansion of MFC sales and marketing efforts. Though responses were favorable for the clothes in Minnesota, the climate is very cold and fashion is more conservative - so they did not gain their maximum appreciation. A new location should be selected to base marketing efforts that has a progressive atmosphere and an appreciation for inclusion and sustainability. Since our distributor is based in Portland, Oregon, we are interested in concentrating marketing efforts in the Pacific Northwest.
3) Expenses, Materials & Products
- Workshop Expenses This Month: 6428.50 GHS
- 252 Secondhand Cotton T-Shirts
- 83 Secondhand Jackets & Sweatshirts
- 10 Bamboo Backpack Clips
- 167 Recycled Paper Tags
- 392 GHS (98.00 USD) Tie-Dyes & Activating Chemicals
No products were shipped this month.
4) Sales, Sustainability & Scale
- Number of Distinct Customers: 0
- Sales: 0.00 USD
- Total Funds Provided This Year: 1,383.98 USD or 5,602.85 GHS
- Total Workshop Expenses This Year: 6,428.50 GHS
- Total Funds Provided since Onset: 18,597.79 USD
- Total Grants Received since Onset: 3,000.00 USD
- Total Sales Made since Onset: 1,588.60 USD
- Financial Progress since Onset: -14,009.19 USD
- 1 Manager
- 2 Seamstresses / Tailors
- 1 Cloth-Maker
- 1 Apprentice
- 1 Taxi Driver
- 2 Knitters / Tag-Makers