When a previous Soul Story star suggested after our interview that I check out One Night Stand, I looked back at her with an expression of confusion, with an awkward "excuse me?", to which she laughed and added, "they're a cool new socially conscience company that makes sleepwear." "Oh... " I replied, "haha... sounds interesting".
This was my introduction to Jamie Green's company, One Night Stand. A sleepwear business he launched about twelve months ago in Melbourne after his second business, a cafe in Melbourne's Flinders St, left him near broke and homeless, sleeping on the floor of his cafe as his couldn't afford to pay rent elsewhere.
We organised a time to talk over Skype and this is how things went down:
Got Soul - Hey Jamie, thanks for taking some time out to have a chat. I have to admit, when a friend of mine suggested I check out One Night Stand, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Jamie - Haha, that first impression happens a lot, which is exactly what I wanted as I think it creates an instant level of curiosity and interest in what we're doing.
Well it worked for me. Of course I now know it's a sleepwear company, not some type of dating service. Can you tell me how One Night Stand all came about?
Sure. One Night Stand is actually my third start-up, after my previous business — a cafe on Flinders St — went pear-shaped. I almost lost everything, including a place to call home. For six months I was sleeping at the cafe and at mates' places because I couldn't afford to pay rent. Luckily with the help of my family and friends I was able to sell the cafe and get myself out of that situation.
This experience, as much as it sucked, taught me how quickly things can go bad and how hard it would be for those who don't have such great support around them like I had to help them out.
So you decided to start another business?
I've never really worked for anyone else, apart from a few jobs part-time jobs here and there. My parents have always ran their own business and I guess that type of 'well if that didn't work, try something else' mentality was passed on to me. So with the lessons I learnt from the cafe I began to do some research into starting a non-for-profit, and what I realised is that although they were doing great things, they always seemed to get stuck at this particular level. Where this is as much as we can do. Then I picked up a book by Richard Branson called 'Screw Business as Usual', and in it he explains -
how you can use business as a force for good. So I came up with the idea to design and sell pillowcases and a percentage of the profits would go into projects to help homeless youth.
This was around the time you also got a scholarship to the School for Social Entrepreneurs, is that right?
It was, that was an eight month incubator program where we were able to really rip the idea apart and build it from the ground up. I couldn't recommend that program highly enough!
What were some of the key things you learnt from the program?
I think planning out the expected growth of the business and attaining some insightful market research were great pieces of advice I certainly valued. For example, we realised some products last year to test the waters first and attained some great information. We now that our main supporters are going to be female between the ages of 17 and 27, that have a social conscience but also appreciate design and fashion.
Speaking of design and fashion, can you tell me more about the quality of materials you use in your products?
With everything we want to do, we really want to set the bar high and that includes the quality in the materials used in the creation of the products. We'll first try to find as ethical and socially responsible materials as possible that are the highest of quality. We've been lucky enough to find a manufacturer in Sydney that is able to make a lot of our products and another one in India that is recognised as a sustainable manufacturer, powered by environmentally friendly sources like wind and solar and is also a fair working environment.
It's kind of bullshit that you can't make a profit being as ethical as possible. If you're hurting the environment and people, what's the point. If we can set the standard and showcase a proven business model that works by having things made in Australia from ethical or organic fabrics with profits going into different social projects and still experience growth, then I think that's just as important as making a billion dollars.
What are some of these social projects One Night Stand supports?
Our first project that we're partly funding is a bus project run by Open Family which is an organisation down here in Melbourne that looks after youth homelessness. They go out four nights a week and provide food, supplies, blanckets and have a chat with these kids. Just hanging out with them is so important, because it's all about building a relationship with them first. They've been burnt so many times before and are therefore quite resistant to accepting help from others. Then once that relationship has been built you can begin to talk to them about different options around housing and employment. We are actually aiming to film a short documentery of this soon, so our customers can see what they are supporting too when buying our products.
Great idea! What's next for you and One Night Stand?
We're aiming to launch our new range of products online soon, including a couple of Jerseys, Sloppy Joe's, Pillow Slips and Tote Bags (Sloppy Joe's & Pillow Slips are available now at www.onenightstandsleepwear.com). Then really build on these products and promote that we are a sleepwear company that is looking to take on the bigger competition.
We're also looking to launch a crowd-funded campaign at the end of the year where we'll be able to hopefully raise enough money to sustain us for around twelve months so we can continue to grow and expand.
Awesome! I have a feeling you won't have too much trouble finding support to help you reach the amount you're after. Thanks Jamie for your time, I'm looking forward to getting in bed soon with my One Night Stand Sloppy Joe.