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Y.O.U Underwear is the winner of our £25,000 small business grant for Business Boost 2022.
The ethical underwear business, founded by Sarah Jordan, was selected out of more than 21,000 entries across the UK.
The annual Simply Business competition has been designed to support businesses in an increasingly challenging economic climate.
Y.O.U Underwear is a sustainable fashion business offering ethically-made cotton underwear for men, women, and girls.
The Oxford-based retail shop puts sustainability at the core of its small business. The products are made from Fairtrade and GOTS-certified organic cotton and are packaged in reusable organic cotton bags.
For every pair of pants sold, the company donates underwear to Smalls for All, a Scottish charity that collects and distributes underwear to vulnerable women and children in Africa and the UK. They’ve also implemented a circular fashion scheme to recycle underwear, tights, and socks.
The winner was carefully selected by an expert panel which included The Apprentice winner Harpreet Kaur. She’s also the owner of her own small business, Oh So Yum.
Y.O.U Underwear was one of the six small businesses to make our shortlist this year.
Harpreet said: “Y.O.U Underwear has really thought about how they can make a real impact and not only turn this into a business, but actually change the world as well.”
Other members of the panel include Tony Robinson OBE – author, Micro Business Champion, and Chair of Yorkshire in Business, Merlie Calvert – founder and CEO at Farillio, and Mo Kanjilal and Allegra Chapman – the winners of Business Boost 2021 and owners of Watch this Sp_ce.
Alan Thomas, UK CEO of Simply Business, completed the panel.
Y.O.U Underwear is focused on making a positive impact.
The team of three has achieved B Corp status for their small business and was recognised by B Corporation as one of the ‘Best for the World’ in 2022.
Sarah Jordan, founder and CEO of Y.O.U Underwear, is looking to use the grant to start a fibre-to-fibre recycling programme that looks to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, all whilst growing and building on the current business initiatives.
The company wants to tackle the pressures often represented by the fashion industry when it comes to images.
Sarah explained: “We don’t airbrush any of our images. We want to try to show inclusive pictures, representative of real bodies.
“Change the world with pants, that’s my driver now."
Sarah said it’s been challenging as she’s still freelancing to support the business and invest while they get up and running.
On winning the cash grant, Sarah said: "I really can't overstate what an impact winning the Business Boost competition is going to have for us. Not only will it enable us to implement our long-held dream of a fully circular fibre-to-fibre recycling programme, helping to keep tonnes of underwear and clothing out of landfill, but it will be a huge boost to every element of our business.
“It will enable us to grow, reach more people, have an even greater impact... and really allow me to focus on the business so that we can make the big difference I know we are capable of.
“Sometimes you have all the ingredients in place but you just need something extra to bring it all together and propel you forwards. Business Boost is exactly that – it's going to make a huge difference to our business and the impact that we have in the world. I really couldn't be more grateful and would 100 per cent encourage everyone to apply next year. The clue really is in the name and I can't wait to share everything that we've been able to achieve as a result. Thank you, Simply Business!"
Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “Y.O.U Underwear's commitment to sustainability resonated with our own values at Simply Business, and we’re excited to see the continued positive impact the business will be able to have with the help of a cash injection.
“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy – and we know that behind each of these businesses are passionate individuals with a big dream. That’s certainly true of Sarah, and we’re proud to be able to support their big dream of continuing Y.O.U Underwear's exciting journey.”
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Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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