Over the coming months as our mahi on Tā Koha continues, we’ll be profiling some of the awesome entrepreneurs who are planning to use the platform to take their business to the next level. First up is Joe Harawira, the founder of Flo Clothing.
The idea behind Flo came to Joe a few years ago, while he was clearing out his wardrobe. He looked at all the activewear he owned, and suddenly wondered why he wore all that stuff. What did buying those clothes actually do? As he puts it “nothing, other than line the pockets of the owners.” Joe decided there had to be a better way, and so he came up with the idea for Flo: a lifestyle fashion brand that helps kids in need.
Joe describes Flo’s kaupapa as aiming to “level the playing field, so all kids can flourish in school and in life.” At the moment, they’ve partnered with PledgeMe alumni Eat My Lunch, so that for every Flo tee you buy, they donate a lunch to a kiwi kid in need. Its goal is to connect lovers of lifestyle and activewear through fashion to the important social problem of child poverty. For Joe, Flo is more than just a brand: “it’s about making a statement that this is who you are and what you stand for.”
Now, Joe wants to take the business to the next level, including partnering with KidsCan. That’s why he’s looking to crowdfunding, and engaging his community in the process. He was one of the Māori entrepreneurs present at our Tā Koha hui in Hamilton a few months ago, and he describes it as “good in terms of being able to step out of the business to look at it and take more of a strategic approach.” As an entrepreneur, he says, “it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind”, and so having the chance to step back and think about simple questions like “who’s your crowd” was valuable.
In terms of the next steps, Joe is currently working with the team towards putting together a project crowdfunding campaign later this year. He describes himself as “both excited and scared” at the prospect of putting himself and Flo out there, but he wants this to be something driven by the community, so he’s looking forward to it. At the end of the day, Joe is willing to do the mahi and make a difference – because as he says, “hands down, we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. But we’ve still got 300,000 kids here living in poverty. That just shouldn’t be happening.”
Stay tuned for Flo’s Tā Koha launch later this year – and for more profiles on our awesome entrepreneurs.