At Soule, We believe that making a living as a business is not by what we get, but what we give. Soule has brought out the best of us by increasing our awareness of the world around us and to be conscious in our efforts to help the community around us. Before starting Soule, we never knew that there are people with needs out there, people and children who might not have the same privileges as us. It has been an honour and a great experience for us to meet with children from Singapore, Malaysia and China and to be able to empower them in what small ways we can.
More than just us, we also learnt that Soule brings out the best of others (aka the people around us) by bringing to light certain issues we care about and fuel us to the communities in Singapore. We have been invited by primary, secondary and tertiary insitutions to share about our experience and we have been so encouraged when we see the best of people, such as adults, youths and Singaporean kids.
In particular, we have had current Business And Social Enterprise (Ngee Ann Polytechnic) students coming up to us and saying that they were inspired to join this particular course after reading or hearing about us.
Also, we did a mini campaign with Fairfield Methodist Primary School, where we challenged the students there to give instead of just receiving presents during their Children’s Day Celebration in year 2013. They all rose up to the challenge and gave pens and handwrote 1000+ hearts to gift to the children in Lincang, Yunnan, China. We then brought their encouragements and wellwishes to the children in China and it was such a great time to see the children from different countries interacting in such a manner (they were literally “pen pals”).
Being young and inexperienced, many business people did not take us seriously. We had a hard time looking for a good supplier that was willing to work with us. All of us were not from extremely well-to-do families. I (Justine) was in primary school when I started my first business venture: selling erasers bearing prints of various country flags, commonly known as ‘country erasers’.
It all began when I noticed something special about these erasers: they had more than one use. More than pieces of stationery, country erasers were used as pawns in exciting games of ‘country eraser wars’. Flipping the flat piece of rubber over, using just one finger, the aim was to get your eraser to land on top of your opponent’s. I remember my little red coin pouch filling up quickly with erasers won from my opponents, which I then sold at a full profit of 10 cents apiece – an irresistible price compared to what was being charged at our school’s bookshop.
Although my little business scheme got shut down eventually (it was discovered by the principal!), I vividly remember the power of combining two selling points into one. That memory has fuelled the concept behind Soule Apparels. When you buy a pair of footwear from us, we donate a pair of school shoes to a needy child – our concept is ‘buy one, give one’.