For over three years now The Social Studio has been helping young people from refugee and migrant communities around Melbourne by offering educational and work experience programs at its fashion studio, retail space and cafe, The Cutting Room. In recent years, The Social Studio’s fashion school alumni, all of whom came from migrant and refugee backgrounds, have shown at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and caught the attention of daytime TV queen Oprah Winfrey.

The community project largely runs on philanthropic grants and donations and mainly operates on a shoestring budget. But their growing popularity is putting increased demand on the retail space. Put simply, The Social Studio needs to raise up to $20,000 in order to upgrade the shop, cafe and fashion school so it can continue to contribute to the community for many years to come.

Grace McQuilten, founder and CEO of The Social Studio, says the organisation hopes to develop and grow the fashion label to create more jobs and work experience for their designers and students. “Our focus is on developing our enterprise with a local, thoughtful and slow approach to fashion, people and business,” McQuilten says.

As a non-profit social enterprise, The Social Studio gives back to the larger Melbourne community as much as it gives to its students and employees. In this sense, the organisation is not simply a charity, but an operation focused on creating opportunities for disadvantaged people to help themselves.

“The Social Studio is a celebration of what can be achieved when people help each other, learn from each other, share ideas and knowledge as an equal partnership,” McQuilten says.

“We try to create opportunities and to change life circumstances for people who have experienced being a refugee prior to coming to Australia. However, we understand that this is an experience – it doesn't define who a person is, or what they are capable of. Instead of focusing on disadvantage and problems, we shift the dynamic and create advantage by building on existing strengths and talents of the people who come to be part of our team.”

Works are already underway for the new, larger space, with Assemble Projects spearheading the design work pro-bono. But The Social Studio needs help to reach their target budget. Head to their Indiegogo fundraising campaign to make donations.

Donators will be happy to know their heart of gold will be rewarded with African donuts, coffee and other goodies as a thank you gift.

The Social Studio Indiegogo campaign from eugenia lim on Vimeo.