Alternative Funding for Your Business - The Happy Place Project
Following on from our blog on forms of finance for your business, we are really excited to bring you a Q&A with Ceilidh Dickson of AWOL Snowsports about the Kickstarter campaign she has launched for “The Happy Place Project”:
Tell me about you, your business, what you do and who you help.
AWOL Snowsports is an apparel brand centred around the snowsports industry. In July 2017, AWOL Snowsports founded The Happy Place Project (THPP), we want to stand for something that isn't just about the profits that are made and is about more than the apparel. Therefore, we are working to raise awareness of the effects that bullying has on a child's mental health, this is an extremely important issue, which is close to our hearts.
After seeing the effects bullying had on a close friend's son, who had been bullied for over 5 years. We felt that we have to stand up and do something. Children do not deserve a terrible start in life and their childhood years are meant to create some of their happiest memories.
We want to be part of the fight to stop children experiencing all forms of mental health issues associated with bullying, therefore we are proud to announce that AWOL Snowsports has created this movement.
This project hopes to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues, opening up a positive and creative reaction, allowing those who are battling this issue to be able to confront it and fight back. We hope the project will be a form of therapy, to aid young children and adults alike by allowing those who experience this trauma to realise that there is a happy place, and that happy place exists where people will support them. This is shown through THPP and the products which we produce, we want this project to succeed, however not for us, but for those we want to help.
For every t-shirt purchased, we will deliver a THPP t-shirt to a child or young adult who is suffering depression, or other mental health issues, so they know that they'll never be alone. We will continue to do this for every t-shirt the brand sells through all the design collections
What prompted you to look at alternative ways of raising finance for your business?
The purpose of The Happy Place Project is to become a financial closed loop system, with the current project funding the next. With that in mind we chose not to fund the project through AWOL Snowsports, instead opting for crowd funding solution.
What options of finance did you look at, what did you choose and why?
Initially we looked into loans, grants and investors, even overdrafts, however, the decision was made to opt for a crowdfunding route due to the nature of the project. We wanted the greatest exposure project, knowing that the hardest thing for people who struggle with mental health issues is lack of confidence and self doubt. Having people pledge and kick start off the project, we hoped would show those who are struggling that what they are going through is not something to be ashamed of. That people are there who would support them, and proudly represent a project like THPP.
How did you find the process, was it easy, complicated, long winded, quick, emotional etc?
With a project like THPP it has been a tough but rewarding journey so far. There is still a negative stigma associated with the topic of mental health, therefore with a project like this which I care deeply for, the success of the funding process is incredibly emotional. It has not been a easy, nor has it been quick, we are just into the start of the crowd funding project so our fingers are crossed.
If you had to give away part of your business or "gifts/rewards" as part of the funding process, how did you decide what was sensible/appropriate?
The rewards, or pledges they are known through Kickstarter were the easiest part of this whole process. The ethos of The Happy Place Project was to act as a platform and a form of therapy for those experiencing mental health issues. This was achieved through the production of apparel, featuring the designs of the children involved with the project. The first design - Snow Lion (currently part of the Kickstarter campaign) was created by Ethan, 10, whose finds his happy place in animals. Through talking with Ethan we developed this idea that for every t-shirt purchased, The Happy Place Project would send a t-shirt to a child in need, that way they knew they're not alone. If people purchase one of our t-shirts through our campaign and future projects they are not only helping the designer, they are also helping other children too.
The range of apparel expanded to include branded THPP hats, crew sweaters and hoodies to support the designers’ t-shirts, all of which we have included as pledges to support the project.
What would your top piece of advice be to others looking at doing the same?
Be prepared to have a rewarding journey full of highs and lows. The process of setting up and funding a brand like The Happy Place Project is challenging, it depends greatly on the general public and if they feel captured by what you are trying to achieve. The best advice I can give you would be to work with a social media expert as soon as possible, really use their skills to build your profile and following.
Would you do this again? And why do you say that?
The world is changing and topics such as mental health are becoming increasingly important. It occurs more and more, instead of running from the topic we need to embrace it and help those where we can.
Without a doubt I would do this project again, and I would also raise the funding through the same way. It is all about the connection with the public and raising awareness, I still believe that crowd sourcing would be the best direction.
Any other information that you would like to share...
Our Kickstarter campaign has now finished but a Go Fund Me Page has been set up and if you believe in what The Happy Place Project is trying to achieve a pledge or donation on the following link would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!