A Day in the Life – Where does Jo come from?

In ‘A Day in the Life’ we reach out to business leaders, social entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to make a difference and ask them to share with us an average day in their working life.

This week we spoke to Jo Salter, founder of Where Does It Come From? who specialise in producing ethical Fair Trade clothes. Each WDICF? piece has a label code that allows buyers to trace where it came from, how it was made and who made it.

 
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11.22.17
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What is in store for you today?

I’m writing a couple of presentations today that I’m giving next week.  One is entitled ‘Ethics and Traceability’ and the other is all about how and why Where Does It Come From? came about as a brand that creates ethical clothes that share their stories.  I’m giving these at a conference on the ethical fabric Khadi this week at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.

What does a typical working day look like?

Usually when I wake up I make a mental plan for the day including a short meditation about the outcomes I want to see.  I also check my messages too – there’s often correspondence from India as they’ve been up and around for a few hours by then. I drop my younger son off to his primary school (fortunately my older son now takes himself off to school!) and then get home and make a large mug of tea.  I don’t get this luxury if I’m travelling to meetings – it’s usually grabbing a take away cup at the station to take on the train!

I split the working days into themes where possible – so a day for accounting, a day for big thinking, a day for communications etc. It isn’t always possible to keep to it but it frames my thinking.  I have a long to-do list on the go too and before anything else I like to go through and work out the tasks that need to be done that day.

The work that I do is very varied, which I love.  Some days it can be writing presentations or articles like today, other days planning and collaborating on a new production and others attending events and talking to customers.

A fair amount of time is spent answering emails and keeping on top of social media, as it is really important to keep in touch and be visible to customers, colleagues and the various retailers and wholesalers that we work with.

Are there any sort of personal rituals or routines that you have to undertake before you start work?

Definitely the cup of tea!  Planning how I want my day to turn out is important to me too – I am very goal orientated so need to see where I am heading.  On days where I don’t get a chance to do this I always feel slightly adrift.

As a team, do you have any group rituals or events per day or week?

Not really, as we are fairly small the relationships are more constant.

When your team come together, is it in a digital sense, or is there still a physical meeting up?

It tends to be a bit of both really.  I like to get to know people that I work with well so we can be open with each other. Contact can be email, phone, face to face, Skype – any which way.  Skype is fantastic when working with remote teams, although sometimes when I am sitting in my office in Ipswich in layers of jumpers and the sun is shining through the windows in India I sometimes wish it was just audio!!

What projects have you currently got on, and what upcoming projects are exciting you?

At the moment we are focussed on Christmas and have launched our Christmas shop.  It is great to see some of the work from earlier in the year paying off, with our products appearing in catalogues and ‘must-buy’ lists.

I’m very excited about a project that we have been planning for some time and is finally starting to take shape. We are working with the charity Proudly Made in Africa to create a new African supply chain and designing some African print tunics from organic cotton.  We’ll run a crowdfund next year to make this a reality.

How do you measure impact and successes, and how do you celebrate them?

Good question – Not enough!  I tend to focus on the next thing and don’t take the time to register the successes often enough.  Being part of the Cambridge University ‘Social Ventures’ Incubator has been useful for this as we have to report on impacts and successes as part of the programme.  It has made me realise how much impact we do have.

What gets you through the day? (Any podcasts, activities, thoughts etc?)

Tea.

Oh and positive thinking.  I have a few little sayings that help me ‘Be the Change you want to see’ is a key one and, if I’m suffering from imposter syndrome, I go to Will-i-am and Sesame street;

There’s only one me, I am it
Have a dream I’ll follow it
It’s up to me to try.

Oh! I’m a keep my head up high
Keep on reaching high
Never gonna quit
I’ll be getting stronger.

I think it was aimed at small children but it works for me!

What are you currently reading?

Quite a few things – I like spy stories like John le Carre and adventure stories. For non-fiction I enjoy reading the biographies of inspiring people.  Right now I’m reading about Malala Yousafzai.

What’s your Ethos?

My ethos is to tread lightly and positively – to appreciate and respect our world and the people in it.  It sounds trite but I truly believe that we can have happy and fulfilled lives without the huge plethora of products that we are expected to desire.  I try to inspire rather than preach as I don’t think people like being told what to do, but I do think that the more of us who express this alternative view the better there has to be a counter balance to the large number of messages that urge overconsumption. Kindness is a key goal – there is a great pleasure in giving and sharing.

And finally, suggest a better title for this feature.

How about ‘Where Does Jo Come From?

 

Find out more about Jo and Where Does it Come From? here: http://www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk/