When a gift is given, it’s usually only for the receiver. But what if the gift could benefit everyone involved in the process of making it? Bronwyn Bate, the founder of Mettle, has found a way.
Mettle is a Perth-based social enterprise that produces gift hampers filled with sustainable goods. The project employs women escaping domestic violence and was inspired by Bate’s experiences in the Melbourne not-for-profit sector. Among the most troubling statistics she encountered was that on average 52 per cent of women were seeking care because they couldn’t secure and maintain safe accommodation for financial reasons.
Bate looked into the existing employment and government support services that were available and found there was little for those survivors with large gaps in their employment history.
“We’re an answer to the need to provide post-crisis support services to women who are experiencing homelessness due to domestic and family violence,” she says.
When it came to formulate a business plan, Bate went straight to the source: the women she was hoping to support.
“I started speaking to survivors and finding out what they wanted to see from an employer that was a compassionate and nurturing kind of space,” she says. “From that we co-designed Mettle. The social enterprise came after identifying the need for employment. We spoke to the women about what kind of entry-level roles would they be interested in.”
The women employed by Mettle are trained in all aspects of running the business, from office admin and social media to manufacturing beauty products and packing and dispatching orders. Behind the scenes, the women in Mettle’s program are provided a guarantee of six months employment with a range of on-the-job training opportunities. During this six months they are given further job-seeking support through Mettle’s recruitment partners, and access to mentorships to help them (re)enter the workforce.
Mettle is also working with a network of Perth small businesses and showing them how to support domestic violence survivors in the workplace. It’s a strategy that will allow Mettle to assist more women beyond those it can hire.
Three different hampers are available and contain a choice between a clay mask or body scrub mixed and packed by Mettle employees. The hampers also include chocolate from Melbourne social enterprise Hey Tiger, ceramics from Bassendean studio Sole Ceramics, and up-cycled incense holders, which are sanded and varnished by the women in the program. In the lead-up to Christmas, Bate plans to introduce additional hamper varieties including a gender-neutral hamper of pantry goods, candles and socks.
Bate has been blown away by the support for Mettle four weeks after its launch.
“It’s been really heartwarming to see how supportive the community has been,” she says. “It’s really reassuring to see that even small businesses, who might not have the largest financial capacity, still find a way to rally behind local organisations like Mettle and help us achieve sustainable change.”
Mettle Hampers can be shipped interstate.