It's been a long time coming, but we are so excited to finally announce that we are a certified B Corporation!
Blak Businesses do things differently.
B Corp helps us to explain how.
We're so excited to see more Blak businesses in this space. We had a chat with the B Lab team to share why we were so keen to join the B Corp community. Check it out...
Describe your B Corp in 5 words or fewer:
Aboriginal social enterprise self-determining futures.
Tell us a bit about what your B Corp does.
Clothing The Gaps is a Victorian Aboriginal led, controlled, and majority Aboriginal owned social enterprise, co-founded by Laura Thompson (Gunditjmara) and Sarah Sheridan (non-Indigenous).
As a social enterprise and newly certified B-Corp, we are profit for purpose and use business as a vehicle to self-determine our future through profit, efforts and resources supporting and helping to fund the impactful work of the Clothing The Gaps Foundation.
We are proud that our social enterprise, through the way we choose to do business in our retail and distribution space, is a hub of Indigenous employment. 81% of our staff members are mob. We strive to be a preferred employer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people actively supporting them to grow and pursue their life goals and ambitions. In just the six months between July-Dec 2021 we generated almost 8,000 hours of employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with 4,992.42 of those hours being for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth (15-24). We can't wait to see this number grow!
Why did you want to certify as a B Corp?
As an Aboriginal business and social enterprise, we hold our obligations to doing the best for Community, Country and the people around us at the core of what we do, and always have.
We are health promotion practitioners which means not coming from an economics background or traditional business practice has meant that from the outset we have approached the way we work from a different perspective.
In the beginning, people would often say to us ‘you’re operating outside the box’ or ‘you’re breaking all the rules’…we didn’t know the box or the rules existed and now it’s brilliant to find other like-minded businesses within the B-Corp community who also operate in this way.
For us, the rigorous external certification process means that it’s not just us saying we’re striving for ethical excellence across our work, this has also been verified by someone else.
The B Corp logo is highly regarded and we are so proud that our small business is part of the B-Corp community who share the same values in doing “good” business. We hold our purpose tightly and lead with it every day and see the benefit of doing so. We are so stoked to be joining a group of business who do the same and can unite over striving for change for a more inclusive, regenerative and sustainable society.
What makes your B Corp unique as a business? Tell us some of the areas where you have the biggest impact, or some of the little changes you've made to make a difference.
Clothing The Gaps creates merch with a message that sparks conversations. We make clothes that influence social change by uniting people (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) through fashion and a cause.
We are committed to using our brand and platform to campaign, educate and elevate Aboriginal peoples' voices and causes. An example of this was using the brand’s platform to run the #FreeTheFlag campaign. The campaign successfully advocated to free the Aboriginal flag from the licensing agreements attached to it between June 2010 and Jan 2022.
Through the social enterprise model, we use business as a vehicle to fund and support the work of Clothing The Gaps Foundation. The Foundation was established in March 2021 to move away from traditional funding models.
B Corps want to help transform our economy to one that is inclusive, sustainable, and regenerative. What business practice do you want to see become the norm?
Businesses hold so much power and influence over the norms held in society; the conversations we have and the stance taken on social justice issues. We use our platform with to elevate, educate, motivate and advocate for action towards social change, for example the Free the Flag campaign.
If all businesses saw it as their responsibility to use their platforms for promoting social change that is inclusive, sustainable and regenerative, the world could be a completely different place!
Was there a B Corp that inspired you to certify, or one that you look to for inspiration?
We’ve always admired B-Corps and the community of businesses that come with this. We’ve created a really lovely friendship with the Melbourne based Minor Figures team and when we heard all about their current B-Corp application process, we couldn’t wait to begin ours once we turned one year old! PS: Update from time of writing, huge congrats to Minor Figures on certifying!!.
As for inspo, it’s hard to go past Patagonia for their innovation and the way they prioritise looking after their people and the planet. We hope we get to cross paths at an event sometime soon!
The Conspiracy of Love co-founders, Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones, were pivotal in helping us put language around why we were seeing leading with purpose be so impactful in growing a community of supporters within the brand. Their book, Good is the New Cool, still roams around our office and is full of highlights and notes! We’ve been lucky enough to chat together in the past and admire the work they do as a B-Corp in inspiring more businesses to nail their purpose and build an army of businesses making good things happen around the world – the epitome of being a B-Corp right?!
Do you have any tips for aspiring B Corps about the certification process?
It’s worth it! Take your time and commit to trusting the process. Giving yourself homework to do along the way to elevate or formalise any practices will not only strengthen your application, but your business as a whole. Don’t be shy to reach out to the B-Corp team and other certified businesses, we learnt loads from our sessions with our certifier!