Ten Streets is a styling and lifestyle destination filled with responsible footwear inspired by indigenous people of Southern Africa. Their mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to fair-trade fashion by fulfilling the needs of fashion-forward enthusiasts who desire trend-focused contemporary designs with a sustainable value chain. The start-up was created by company Director Langa Bird and also includes PR and Communications Manager James Nutt.
Ten Streets began with the frustrating realisation of the fashion industry’s negative impact on people coming from backgrounds like mine. Underdeveloped countries are home to the most exploited and lowest-paid garment workers in the world, 85% of which are women. At the core of my values is an unwillingness to accept the fashion industry as it is and the belief that I can personally drive the change I want to see. As the child of an immigrant growing up in post-colonial Zimbabwe I watched my grandmother, an artisan designer, build a successful interior design business and forge a comfortable life despite a stifling, impoverishing economy. Inspired by this heritage, my business sees enterprise as a route to sustainable economic growth for workers in underdeveloped parts of the globe, as I endeavour to play a part in the empowerment of craftsmen and women. That's approaching sustainability holistically. Ten Streets was founded in 2020 to put Bantu culture on the fashion map, designing for the modern-day, daring, curious millennial woman who wants clothes that match her values.
I have already established an advisory board comprising changemakers from sustainability consultant Shaunie Brett, shoe consultant Susannah Davda and received mentor support from a fellow shoe business owner from The Prince's Trust. In cooperation with these knowledgeable partners, I have laid out the strategic foundation for Ten Streets and built a stable following of almost 500 on Instagram without any products. So far, £6000 capital has also been provided in the form of a Virgin Startup Loan and a £1,000 grant from University of Birmingham. This has enabled me to undertake inceptive activities such as hiring a designer to develop the launch product line, creating prototypes and verifying the business idea.
Ten Streets will be launched in October via Kickstarter, raising £17,000 to cover product development, cash flow for initial stock purchase, digital marketing and other costs. Year 1 of the programme will be all about proving that our business is workable and getting the business to a stage where it has sufficient customers and the products to satisfy them.
I wish to receive insight from experienced mentors who can help strengthen my understanding of the buyer’s journey, support with financial management and create a sales process that is robust enough to power Ten Streets’ long-term growth. Another big attraction to this program is the ability to work with and around other like-minded and driven peers to learn from them and share our ups and downs. I look forward to working with and around other like-minded and driven people and learn from them.
My future aspirations are to become a lifestyle brand, creating a new generation of footwear, homeware and apparel that celebrates cultural histories and timeless design and considers overlooked communities across the globe. The brand currently connects customers to underdeveloped parts of the globe, donating 5% of the profits from every sale to Women Working Worldwide, working to prevent the exploitation of garment workers across the fashion supply chain. In the future, I aim to work specifically with factories in developing countries, supporting workers by sponsoring daycare programs for working mums with infant children, providing healthcare and education, and eventually building our own factories in said countries to have full control over working conditions, workers rights and pay, create more income opportunities and ensure that production processes are 100% certified.
Right now, I would like to develop a three-year action plan for 2023-2025 for launching new objectives. I will seek support from knowledge experts on the following business development activities:
- Business Development
- Understanding the legal implications tied with international trade
- Collaborating with platforms to offer more services (e.g. Unidays) and pursuing partnerships with sustainability auditing bodies (e.g. B-Corp, GoodOnYou)
- Exploring digital solutions for disseminating products to a geographically wider customer base while minimising carbon emissions from travel.
About me: I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, I am married, I love weightlifting, I love to cook, I grew up drawing fashion designs in school.