Most students taking a year out of Uni go traveling around Asia or Europe, grab a bar job or party hard in Shoreditch, but Jack Fellows took a year off from Uni, discovered African print fashion and decided to set up an ethical company. He launches The Social Mercenary in June with an event at The Firestation in Windsor, so we spoke to him to get the lowdown on his journey from student to social entrepreneur, and what's happening next.
Jack is a student at Loughborough University but took some time out in 2016 for a work placement in Ghana. Whilst he was there, aside from helping small businesses with their accounts and marketing, he picked up a bunch of locally produced print bags and rucksacks to hand out as presents back home. His friends went crazy for them.
Now in Hong Kong on another internship for a health company, Jack decided that the corporate life wasn't for him - not enough freedom, not enough time - and so spent the entirety of his student loan on 90 new bags from his maker contacts in Ghana, shipped straight to his flat in Hong Kong.
Once in stock, he started hawking on the streets of HK to spread the word about his unique African print backpacks and earn back his investment, often skipping meals to make ends meet. Even when he left Hong Kong to go on an exchange semester in Singapore, Jack continued to push his new business. Eventually, he was invited onto a prestigious accelerator program, but due to his studying commitments back home, decided he'd have to pass it up.
Fast forward to June 2017 and Jack is just back from another trip to Ghana, and is working with an ethical factory to improve the design and quality of the prototype. Minimum orders are 500, so Kickstarter beckons with a campaign to move The Social Mercenary to the next level.
Keep up to date with The Social Mercenary on Youtube - http://bit.ly/2sSjqLo
For more info on their story and journey, check out their blog - http://bit.ly/2sHS8c1