Building a Community for Change-Makers

Building a Community for Change-Makers

We finalize 2018 talking about our passion: Building global communities. This is not another 2018 recap, instead we aimed to get you some usefull insights on this post about what we’ve learned so far on growing consciously a global community connecting and empowering change-makers around slow fashion. Investing in change-makers and creating long lasting relationships is the goal for Slow Fashion World! This is what we did when we met Sina Helmke, our change-maker in Germany.  We, Sina and Mariel, are both passionate about social entrepreneurship, international marketing, inclusive and driven communities taking action.  We got the chance to meet in Sweden and develop guest lecture in Västerås, Sweden holding a guest lecture about Sustainability in Marketing. There we got to speak together in the Podcast Marketing for Change-Makers and talk about how Slow Fashion World started. A global community for conscious creatives that want to empower slow fashion and conscious living visionaries to make their voice heard, show alternatives to fast fashion and increase the awareness about the current ecological crisis in our world.

During the episode, we’ve discussed about the experiences and tips on how to build a thriving community for your business. We talked about community building as a marketing tool and why it is so important in today’s world and especially for Social Entrepreneurs. Check out the Podcast

About Sina Helmke: Building a successful program and consulting agency developing Marketing for Change-makers. Sina, is a fundamental part of the success of this platform, therefore we joined forces again and created a series of resources for the community, both online and offline to raise awareness, develop entrepreneurs, companies and brands into implementing sustainability in their business and personal agendas.

About Mariel Jumpa: Originally from Cusco, Peru and now lives in Sweden. She used to be a flight attendant with a massive passion for traveling and connecting with people, and this led her into starting Slow Fashion World – because she wants to empower, connect and enable collaborations in ethical fashion between Europe and Latin America. Although she only started 1,5 years ago, she already created a community with almost 11 k people all over social media and about 1.600 members in her private Facebook group.

How to Get Started with Building a Community for Your Brand

Three Pillars of Slow Fashion World

The way Slow Fashion World community is operating is based on the following points: 1) Sustainability: Always acting towards having an impact and making the world better 2) Diversity: Creating an inclusive network of changemakers around the world 3) Innovation: Using social and technological innovations to improve society and environment. One reason why Slow Fashion World became successful very quick is the structure of the community. Enabling and empowering different change-makers from 12 countries (more to come) to support a global network with unique skills.  When Slow Fashion World chooses those change-makers, they are not focussing on their number of followers but individual strengths, impact and knowledge. Every Monday one changemaker gets featured on the community. The members are not only designers or brand owners but also advisors, academics and marketing/media experts.

In the founders’ opinion “it is inevitable for international entrepreneurs to build their own community – a personal tribe for their brand. Since social media is a community platform itself, you will not be successful otherwise. But it is also a beneficial way to showcase your mission and ideas and get feedback on them. You can test and find out what is working and what should be changed or improved”.

Common Rules for Successful Community Building

To create a thriving community, you need a strong foundation which should be based on the following aspects:

1) Follow your passion! If you are only interested in this particular idea or project at the moment, think twice if its worth it. You should think longterm!

2) Be ethical and sincere when you reach out to your tribe You will not always receive positive comments, and it is ok not to remove or delete negative ones. Just always be active, honest and answer questions. Do not ignore your members even though you don’t like their opinion. Show them that they are essential to you and keep them engaged by asking questions or using collaborations days.

3) Add value You have to very good at chatting with people and start smart conversations. Try to share valuable content (but always check the source) and keep them up-to-date on your niche/industry.

4) Filter your members You don’t have to add everybody to your community. The easiest way to make sure your tribe consists of people that are genuinely interested in the subject is to add a questionnaire they have to answer in advance. It helps you to preselect and also get to know your members. You can, e.g. ask questions concerning their background and personal motivation.

5) Don’t make it automatic Try to avoid scheduling your content like a robot. Don’t always post at the same time or have theme days every second day. But keep a structure and an order. You can’t automate a community 100 percent, because you have to show your personality. But of course, you can have a team that supports you. But make sure they are aligned with your mission and values.

How to Handle Haters

If you follow the above points, you are pretty good prepared for creating your own community. But of course, it is unlikely that you will have a tribe with thousands of followers overnight. In the beginning concentrate on spreading the word and make it your number one mission that you exist. When you start growing, you may have to deal with negative people or people intending to copy what you’ve built:

1) Listen Try to understand their problem and show them that you respect their opinion. Talk to your critics and try to solve misunderstandings

2) Build trust If you showcase your work with honesty and authenticity, people will learn to know and understand you. It makes it harder for a negative person to damage you and your work.

3) Offline events Organize meetups or other activities with your tripe to deeper connect with them. Face-to-face interaction help to grow meaningful relationships.

4) Policies and rules Make sure to have clear and easy to understand rules. If people don’t follow them, it is ok to block or ignore them. Another not unlikely situation that might occur is someone else starting a similar community. Slow Fashion World is very clear on this point. In her opinion, you should always reach out to them and try to create a collaboration.  Especially as social entrepreneurs we cant stab each other in the back but instead should find a way to cooperate and complement one another. It can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. But if they don’t want to team up, it is also fine. If you want to grow, you have to reach out, look around and not to stay behind your curtain. Don’t fear competition because your personality is always unique – no one can copy it!

4 Steps to Get Started!

SFW tip: Just get started and do it! Do not overthink everything but become more active. The easiest way is to follow these steps:

1) Identify You have to find out, what people are looking for and what their need is. Your passion is essential, but not everything. Make sure you look behind it and define the problem your target group is facing. This step involves a lot of research and testing. You can ask your family, friends and of course people that are within your actual target group.

2) Step Out of the Closet This one might be the hardest part for some people, but it is crucial that you open up yourself to the world. Make sure you are ready to share your opinion and views with your audience. Structure what you want, what your mission is and create a story out of it. Share it on your social media and get used to spreading the word.

3) Communicate The way you talk with your tribe has to be unique and compelling. You have to find a differentiator from other communities. Think about your story, personality, and values and create a communication strategy from it.

4) Feedback Even if there are just a handful of people in your community in the beginning, always ask for feedback. Show them they are important to you and ask them what they enjoy and what they miss.

You are creating your community for your audience and not for yourself.

Thank you Slow Fashion Community

To finalize this post, we are glad to see the Slow Fashion Community taking action and getting closer, with more active members we have seen conscious creatives, industry professionals, academics, advisors and sustainability advocates boosting their companies, gained visibility both locally and globally and that makes it all worth it. 2018 was challenging & positive for the community, although some goals were not reached in numbers the famous 10K goal in Instagram we connected and integrated topics, activities & join forces with a global community building and advocating for social and environmental change! To get started this 2019 we offer you the opportunity to grow as well and take our online course “Develop your brand’s DNA” officially launching soon. For Registration and early bids HERE Once again, thank you for being the change you want to see in this world! Tell us what you think about Slow Fashion World below and what can we do better to help you grow and build a sustainable lifestyle.

SINA HELMKE

SINA HELMKE

CEO ECO MARKETER

Eco marketer is a small agency in the heart of Hamburg with the aim to provide you with anefficient and effective marketing solution. In order to get the most out of your business, we offeryou a comprehensive support in the areas of social media, content marketing and sales support. I created Marketing for Change-Makers! My goal is to help you spread the word about your business and bring your solutions into the world to have an impact. In my opinion, we as entrepreneurs have responsibility for society and the environment. We should all live by this rule and make sure that more and more exciting and innovative projects prevail on the market and create a difference.
I wish you a lot of fun listening to my podcast! 

Slow Travel Diaries ft. Bohetnika – Mexico (Part II)

Following the Slow Travel Stories ft. Bohetnika from Mexico, Lizeth a traveler with heart, a passionate wanderluster and social entrepreneur share with us the second part of her journey. Volume two shows the impresive city of Oaxaca, this time with her husband Alex...

A Guide through Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Trade Shows

I always get questions about where to source, what trade shows are the right for their business. Then it comes the big word "Budget" which always come through our minds to make that decision when investing for traveling for venues and trade shows. Therefore I wanted...

Building a Community for Change-Makers

We finalize 2018 talking about our passion: Building global communities. This is not another 2018 recap, instead we aimed to get you some usefull insights on this post about what we've learned so far on growing consciously a global community connecting and empowering...

Slow Travel Diaries ft. Bohetnika (Part I)

Slow Travel Diaries ft. Bohetnika (Part I)

Why to Slow Travel?

To learn, get inspired and connect. I love to travel like many of you, and I am always thinking of ways to do it with balance and positive impact, for people and the environment. My goal is to always improve, but mostly learn from each city, fall in love with their traditions, sightseeing in unexpected locations just to fine pure beauty beyond the traditional tours or following the “places to go”. This time I want to tell you my history behind my journey in Mexico, as a social entrepreneur it means to be conscious about my work, follow passion and love for mi Mexico lindo.

For a week I traveled to visit some important places between Mexico City and the state of Chiapas in the south of the country. My main reason: to connect with artisans, meet with them and start a story together promoting SLOW FASHION through the company I founded with my husband Alex, Bohetnika . Currently my husband and I live in Berlin, I am Mexican and he is German. We both began this dream together in 2016 and now we are increasingly convinced that with this beautiful project we can contribute with a small grain of sand so Mexican artisans have more fair work opportunities.

Veronica Tego wearing beautiful Artisan-made shirt. MUA: Kathia Cruz

 

Bohetnika empowers artisans and brings a curated selection of handmade Mexican clothing. In my opinion, supporting & co-creating with the artisans to sell the clothes they have already made has been the most significant aspect of my life. From 2018 our aim has been to start with the adventure and develop micro collections with custom made details.

Redescovering, connecting for the Slow Travel community.

During the first days of December I traveled alone in my search. I found pleasant surprises, I met and connected with wonderful people. Actually, one of the following projects we have with Slow Fashion World is to connect creatives and conscious citizens with slow travel and local living experiences. This is precisely the intention we aim to do as change-makers of this platform. Slow Travel Community aims to inspire, connect and create positive impact by making conscious trips that connects deeply to cultural respect, learn more about the traditions and how to help them maintain alive, enjoy and taste the local gastronomy and, of course, interact and even co-create with the experts: the artisans that live and work for centuries with Mexican textiles in the South of Mexico.

Slow Traveling

This time I visited only the state of Chiapas in search of new collaborations with artisans, however, in Mexico City I connected with a very nice person called María, who told me many details about her experience working with artisans.

I also had a couple of meetings with collaborators with whom we are doing as a part of the micro-collection for Bohetnika. For around 5 days I stayed in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a small colonial city with a wonderful mystical and welcoming touch, which invites you to enjoy tranquility in a unique way. (Well, I will omit a bit that in my days there I went through the day of the Virgin which, was not exactly quiet by the numerous processions). Every day there was inspiring.

Here comes my highlights (You can also see them via Bohetnika’s Instagram):

Mexico City

In this big, chaotic but interesting city it is impossible to think that you will make a “slow travel”, right? However, and although it is difficult to believe, the place where you stay is key to feel that way. Just a couple of blocks from the “Zocalo” or main square in the capital, I found a beautiful hostel called “Casa de Pepe” with a very nice atmosphere, an incredible terrace in which I enjoyed my first rays of sun after the harsh Berliner winter, all next to Puff chairs and beautiful cactus. An ideal place for a “digital nomad”. My meetings were held in this place, each of them was delighted by the tranquility and comfort of the place.

San Cris

After 3 days in Mexico City I headed south, with final destination San Cristobal de las Casas. Here from the first days walking through the small town I fell in love with the new craftwork that is being done in the town. I made my first new friend! Don Esteban, a tour guide who took me to meet the indigenous people and who kindly connected me with Micaela, who came to my hotel to talk a couple days later. During my visit, we arrived at a craftsman’s house in Zinacantán, a town famous for its textiles inspired by the production of flowers which provides a big part the country with this product. Here, I once again immersed myself in the process of the famous way women use their looms, do hand embroidery and of course, they shared a little knowledge with me.

Faustina, a 16-year-old girl was kindly preparing tortillas, tenderly shared with me her desires to know other places in the world.

After visiting the house of these artisans and acquiring beautiful clothes with them, I went back to the hotel. The next day a great friend of mine arrived who agreed in collaborating with me for the realization of a photography session. She is proudly from Chiapas.

For my last day, I met a great craftswoman, Teresa. She told me several personal stories, which are changing little by little the way I see and admire the work of a artisans. She was operated for an injury which has prevented her from continuing to work on her loom. However, thanks to its knowledge of languages, she continues to be a very important pillar among indigenous communities and serves as an important point of connection between designers and artisans.

Puebla

Last day before going home, and once I left San Cristóbal, I met Karen and Julio, who are the gentle people who is helping Bohetnika with the process of making part of our micro collection. In Puebla, they took already all the disassembled pieces from the fabric I brought in Lithuania and we got started!

One week before in CDMX they were the ones I met first, I gave them the fabric, and the image of the flowers I wanted for the designs so they made the stamp, on top of the stamp, artisans can do their magic! so, there we were, stamping clothes and having fun. To  be honest, we were very nervous as well!

I have always said that things happen for a reason, happily, I went home with my family in the north of Mexico, I was so lucky to meet such wonderful people with whom I shared experiences that, I hope in the near future I can share with some of  the Slow Travel Community. Share with us your best slow travel experience. Do you want to join me in Mexico Part II? email: hello@slowfashionworld.com

Lizeth Soto Rivas

Lizeth Soto Rivas

SFW Change-Maker & Founder Bohetnika

Lizeth Soto Rivas is the founder of Bohetnika. She has been recently assigned as official guide for Slow Travel Community. She is also behind the movement “Goes Latin” PopUp stores around Europe with events empowering Latin American fashion, and designers.

She is a graduate and expert in Communications, Social Media currently living in Berlin since 2014. Lizeth travels the world creating strong connections and global network. She loves photography, creative art, and have worked in international and local projects connected to artisan empowerment and textiles.

 

Slow Travel Diaries ft. Bohetnika – Mexico (Part II)

Following the Slow Travel Stories ft. Bohetnika from Mexico, Lizeth a traveler with heart, a passionate wanderluster and social entrepreneur share with us the second part of her journey. Volume two shows the impresive city of Oaxaca, this time with her husband Alex...

A Guide through Ethical & Sustainable Fashion Trade Shows

I always get questions about where to source, what trade shows are the right for their business. Then it comes the big word "Budget" which always come through our minds to make that decision when investing for traveling for venues and trade shows. Therefore I wanted...

Building a Community for Change-Makers

We finalize 2018 talking about our passion: Building global communities. This is not another 2018 recap, instead we aimed to get you some usefull insights on this post about what we've learned so far on growing consciously a global community connecting and empowering...

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