Surprise Yourself

By Zaheer Raja - Circle Trainee 10/04/2017

 

My name is Zaheer and it has been approximately two months since I joined Circle Collective.  On Monday 27 March I started my work experience at Land Securities.  Land Securities is the largest commercial property company in the UK. That means they own shops and offices that thousands of people that work in every day. That’s 17 million square feet of retail stores and 13 shopping centres in total!

My work experience was far better than I had imagined. This was the most professional environment I have ever seen.  I was lucky to spend my time in one of their newest buildings near Victoria station.

I learned that in the company, different departments work on different things and all work together to make Land Securities even better. Some of the departments include: Sustainability, Human Resources, Marketing and Accounts Payable. I worked in Office Services, they support all the people that work in the building. I helped with sorting letters in the post room and categorising them correctly so they could be delivered to the right person on the right floor.  I also worked on the Support Bar, helping people with their enquiries and recording these in the system.

There were lots of meetings booked in the meeting rooms every day and it is down to the team in Office Services to organise the rooms and make sure everything looks presentable for a professional meeting.

During my two weeks at Land Securities I met many people who had a tough start in life.  Due to their dedication and determination to earn a living, they are now working at Land Securities. People like Denis, who joined Land Securities after gaining work experience there from Circle Collective four years ago. 

I learned that Land Securities is a great place to work.  Most importantly, I learned that work can be fun when you can have fun with your co- workers and even get to know more people.  Huge thanks to Circle Collective for the introduction and thanks to the team at Land Securities for making me feel so welcome.

 

Trying is Better than Relying

By Zaheer Raja, Circle Trainee- 17/03/2017

Recently, I visitedtwo organisations (SThree and Land Securities) offering young people a professional job role. Degrees don’t matter in this situation. All that is required are the key qualities: Determination, Enthusiasm, Passion and Presence.

At SThree, I learnt that the people there help build your professional work life by using things such as LinkedIn, which is an easy way of accessing employers and ensuring that you aren’t missing out in these wonderful experiences.

When I was at Land Securities, I assumed it was all about security job roles. However, after the introduction, I learnt this organisation is a lot more than that; they own most properties in the UK starting in 1944 and now they have property worth £14.5bn and only 600 employees. As well as security job roles, they offer cleaning roles.

No, it is not what it sounds like! It will be the chance to work for professional organisations and get promoted depending on your effort. For example: Cleaner to Manager of Operations in the cleaning company.

I have always wanted to be a writer. However, considering these lifetime opportunities I understand that I could do writing on the side and building a career on the other side. Not everyone gets their dream job immediately so why not explore the world of employment.

Being a security officer was never my dream job, but it may be a good start. It might be for you too. So don’t waste any time at all; join Circle to assure that your employment is secured. You will get all the help possible.

Don't be late!

View from a Circle Trustee

By Esther Lumby - 28/02/2017

I’m a trustee at Circle Collective, but I’ve been away inMexico for 14 months, where I continued my role as a trustee via poor quality skype calls and very long emails. I knew what was going on: I kept up with the headline news, the ups and the downs, the celebrations. Or so I thought. Since I’ve been back, I’ve noticed significant changes and improvements across Circle which I wasn’t aware of.

So what really happened in 2016 that shows that Circle is making progress and ultimately getting more young people into work?

We are now Circle Collective.

After a re-branding exercise and launch party in June 2016, the organisation has dropped its ‘Circle Sports’ label and become Circle Collective. Of course I knew the name was changing, but what I’ve noticed is that it really is a collective. If you walk into 136 Kingsland High Street, you see fashion designers, trainers, young people – both employed and unemployed, interns, volunteers, managers, trustees, corporate volunteers, plus a few random stragglers trying to work out how they can be part of this place. Everyone has a role and works together towards the same goal of getting young people into work.

We are making money!

Not loads, we’re not John Lewis or Harrods, yet, but we do have a model which is starting to work. The fashion designers clothes are popular, we are running a very successful pop up shop in Lewisham and we have a working, scaleable model (and an amazingly talented shop manager!). This doesn’t mean we don’t need more, we still need grants, corporate support, donations, but as a social enterprise it’s important to have a trading model which works. After 6 years of tweaking this model, we have got there.

We are online.

We aren’t just a store, but now also an e-store. Everyone knows the high street is dying, people no longer trek up and down the high street, in and out of numerous shops, when they can click a few buttons and have their perfect outfit delivered to their doorstep a few days later. So we now sell all the independent fashion designers products online. There is still a lot of work to be done here, we aren’t experts in e-commerce and need to put a lot of energy into getting the word out about our site. But it’s a step in the right direction. Maybe next year the top achievements will be ‘We are making money… online!’

We are very well connected.

Okay, we have always been fairly well connected thanks to the unstoppable networking skills of the CEO, but now it feels different. Instead of politely nodding along and listening to what we’re all about, then escaping at the first opportunity, people are nodding vigorously and suggesting ways they can get involved. It’s these networks that are getting us to where we want to be.Not bad for a year. Circle Collective still faces many challenges but this is the first year I feel like we’ve made real, measurable, solid progress towards becoming a stable and sustainable organisation. Let’s keep up this momentum and who knows what we will have achieved in another 12 months.

Thoughts from a Circle Trainee

By Zaheer Raja

I am Zaheer Raja, I am 19 years old and I have been with Circle Collective for almost a month. The staff here have been helpful to me and everyone else I know at Circle.

Circle Collective is an organisation that benefits young people. In my first week, I certainly learnt that they do not let go of you until you have succeeded and are officially employed.

You’ll get help with your CV and cover letter. I needed more than one CV as there are many different aspects of customer service that I am interested in after being with Circle. It couldn’t get better than that.

You’ll get hands on experience working in customer service or any similar field you are interested in. They helped me understand real life situations and that there is always something to keep yourself busy with when employed.

I have been to ‘Westfield’ to search for jobs with other youngsters and have even been to a Job Fair held in ‘Hackney Community College’.

You might not get your perfect job immediately therefore, it is essential to not give up and just keep searching. There is nothing to worry about as Circle stands by your side and that is one of the best things about this organisation.

Before all of that, there are practice sessions that teach you things that you are not yet aware of about work.

I am still learning, everyone is learning. So why not come and get the help you need, in order to get into work?

Celebrating Another Excellent Year for Circle

We were all overwhelmed by the fantastic turnout at the Lewisham Shopping Centre on Thursday evening to celebrate Circle Collective’ssuccesses in 2016.

Turly, CEO of Circle Collective, kicked off the evening with a quick recap of our history over the last 6 years, explaining the journey that has brought Circle to Lewisham.

Image: @milan_lautier (Instagram)

 

The evening celebrated the success of the partnership between Circle Collective and Land Securities. Ailish Christian-West, Head of Shopping Centres at Land Securities, explained the central role that Circle Collective have played in Land Securities community work over the last four years.

Most recently, Land Securities have supported Circle Collective to open a store in the Lewisham Shopping Centre where they are supporting young people in the borough to get the hands-on work experience they need for their CVs, as well as showcasing the work of local independent designers and helping them to grow their businesses. Leigh, our Retail Manager explained to guests how he puts the young trainees through their paces in the store – including offering advice on hair-styles!

Image: @milan_lautier (Instagram)

 

The highlight of the evening came when the group of young people who have recently completed Circle Collective’s ‘Get Employed’ training programme were presented with their graduation certificates by Philip Barron and Denis Denisov from Land Securities.

The efforts of the young people currently training in Circle’s Lewisham store were also recognised. Since opening at the end of October 2016, the Lewisham store has delivered more than 100 work experience shifts. 24 young people have completed work experience in the store and 8 of those have since moved into employment. Jesse, one of the trainees gaining work experience with Leigh in Lewisham, gave a particularly moving speech detailing how much the opportunity meant to him.

Image: @milan_lautier (Instagram)

 

Heidi Alexander MP, attending the event, said: “All too often, schemes to help people get into work have the same tired formula - turn up to a classroom, get guidance on your CV and interview technique and then "go find yourself a job.

“Circle Collective and Circle Training couldn't be more different. Hands on experience, in a real life situation, working with people who can really help you get your first job.

“The young people who have benefited from the scheme in Lewisham seem to have had real success in getting employment afterwards. Land Securities should also be congratulated for giving them the training shop rent free.”

Circle Collective’s great friends at Grey Advertising also had a treat up their sleeve for guests at the event! Following the graduation ceremony, guests got a first glimpse at a Circle Collective film, produced by Grey. We can’t wait to share this with our friends and supporters online….watch this space!

 

The Circle Collective Team would like to say thank you to:

Philip, Ailish, Paul, Sony and everyone and Land Securities and particularly the Lewisham Shopping Centre.

 

Our other corporate supporters, especially the John Lewis Foundation, who have supported us with shop fittings, and Experian, who support us to deliver the Get Employed programme.

Sainsbury’s in Lewisham (Cathy), and Marks and Spencer in Lewisham (Millie and Otuo) for kindly donating food and refreshments for the event.

Ryan and everyone at Muffin Break for not only providing space for the refreshments, but also serving all the food and drink for our guests – huge thanks!

Nick and Will at Ignition Beer, another excellent, Lewisham-based social enterprise, who donated some of their signature pale ale for our guests.

Sue, Joe, Callum and everyone at Grey working on the Circle Collective film.

Heidi Alexander MP and Vicky Foxcroft MP for their continuing support.

Milan for photographing the event.

All the guests who came along and showed their support to the young people working with Circle Collective.

All of the fabulous volunteers who make what we do possible.

 

The independent designers we work with for their creativity and support.

And last but certainly not least, the young people whose enthusiasm, energy, humour and spirit is the driving force behind the Circle Collective project.

Five Great Reasons to Buy Social from Circle Collective on Black Friday

Chloe Clarke, Product Owner- 25/11/2016

In the last couple of years, Black Friday has become THE day to nab a bargain. With so many retailers offering reductions, this Friday is predicted to be the biggest shopping event of the year.

And social enterprises can offer something more than most retailers…

Here are our five top reasons to buy social with us this Black Friday.

1. To bag individual, limited edition pieces

Ever turned up at a party wearing the same outfit as someone else? At Circle Collective, we stock a range of designs from independent, up-and-coming designers, so you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.

2. To support local communities

We’re based in Hackney, and we’re passionate about making it a great place to live and work. When you buy from us, you’re giving back to the community and making a difference for local people.

3. To find amazing bargains

Doing good doesn’t have to cost the earth. And with 30% off EVERYTHING online on Black Friday, you can make big savings on both our independent designer ranges and our niche brands.

4. To support innovation

Social enterprises lead the way in introducing new products and services. At Circle Collective, we support the independent designers we work with to grow their businesses and bring their creative and individual designs to wider audiences.

5. Because when social enterprises profit, society profits At Circle Collective, we’re all about using retail to help young people.

All proceeds from the sales we make are reinvested into training courses for out-of-work young people to help them get employed. So if you’re looking for a side of social good with your Black Friday bargain this year, look no further!

Ins and Outs of Becoming a Fashion Designer

An article by Sun Tat Label on their path to becoming a fashion designer

If you dream of becoming the next Donna Karan or Versace, it is time to turn that dream into a reality. Becoming a fashion designer isn’t easy, but it can be done- as long as you’re committed and willing to put in the work. Drawing up designs is just a fraction of what it takes: you need technical expertise, fashion knowledge, real-life experience, and determination, to go from nobody to somebody.

There are so many avenues to pursue, finding the right path for you can be tricky. This article will help you figure it all out. It outlines the steps necessary to succeed as a fashion designer, from building your portfolio and finding trade shows to fashion schools and creating prototypes. Just be sure to remember us when your famous!

You can read the full article here.

Fashion Sportswear and International Fashion Production students collaborate with Circle Collective

Loukia Constantinouno London College of Fashion - 04/08/2016

Last Month students from LCF’s BA (Hons) Fashion Sportswear course and the MDes International Fashion Production Management came together in Dalston, to celebrate the relaunch of the Circle Collective store. The evening featured an in-store catwalk show as well as the announcement of the winning LCF students, who took part in an industry project collaboration between LCF and the charity.

The students contributed their own unique specialisms to the delivery of fashion products that have helped to promote Circle and its objectives, in “creating opportunities and changing the lives of young people.” The BA Sportswear students were briefed to design a garment that represents the charity, while the MDes students, were tasked with finding the best way of putting the winning design into production. We spoke to the winners, Melissa Barragan from the BA Fashion Sportswear course and Aimee Kelly from MDes International Fashion Production Management about their work.

How did you find out about the competition?

Melissa: In our second year we have three industry projects, and the first was the collaboration with Circle Collective, who approached us with the aim of helping them to give a new dynamic to their shop.

Aimee: The competition was part of our final term project, so my course leader informed the class at the start of term.

Melissa, what did you design?

I designed an outwear jacket, featuring a detachable backpack. The backpack is removable and integrated to the jacket for camouflage. The characteristics of the backpack are that one side offers pockets and the other side is waterproof to protect any items held in it.

Aimee, what did you first think of the winning design?

WOW! The jacket looked like something from a retailer and the concept was very clever – a bag in a jacket! It was quite overwhelming when we got told we had to re-engineer the jacket in order to reduce production costs, and for it to be manufactured in the uk, with Melissa’s design still in mind. Scary!

Melissa, how did you come up with the concept for the garment – what ideas did you use?

Firstly, I looked at the surroundings of the shop, Hackney and Dalston – this was the first step of the brief. My inspiration comes directly from the street art. From there, I decided to recontextualize graffiti with a contemporary approach. I was inspired by “Spidertag” – Spidertag is an artist who creates abstract graffiti using the technic of string art. String art consists into recreating a pattern using thread and nails.

The design of my jacket comes from the research of assembly of string art. Creating different lines from this technique made me consider various layers into one garment. From there, I extracted these layers and imagined a backpack integrated into the garment.

The concept was to design a jacket suitable for graffers [graffiti artists]. Through my research, I created a concept of removable backpack that they could put their items into. The idea is to offer practicality, camouflage and versatility. I think the concept suited the brief because the jacket emerges from the street art culture and reflects the uniqueness of Hackney.

Aimee, how did you go about finding a way to put Melissa’s garment into production?

Melissa’s patterns were complex – you could see how much hard work she had put into it, but production doesn’t need to be complex. I simplified the jacket and came up with the idea to keep it both practical and fashionable, by making it reversible.

At first I had so many ideas running through my head but I made sure I stuck to the brief. I researched fabrics and trimmings, which would fit the price point while keeping the designs in mind. I changed my initial design several times because of the complexity and coatings of certain materials, but overall I’m really pleased with the outcome and can’t wait to see it, once it’s been produced.

How do you feel about seeing the garment go into production?

Melissa: I am really glad I won the project! It was the first time I had the opportunity to work for an industry and contextualize my practice into the real world. I worked very hard and challenged myself to create this jacket. I consider this the first step in my career. I am really excited to see that my work will be produced – it gives me a lot of motivation to continue challenging myself.

Aimee: It’s crazy I never thought I’d win, never mind my jacket be produced! I’m very proud of the jacket and the work I’ve done and to have seen the prototype in Circle Collective’s shop, before going into the production was an amazing feeling.

You can read the full article here.

My First Six Months at Circle Collective

Elaine McCulloch Training Director - 03/08/2016

I have been looking after and loving Circle Community the training Charity under Circle Collective since March. I was excited about working with young people again after spending 2 years in operations filling in spread sheets. I lived by my outlook calendar, I had no contact with anyone else apart from funders, ofsted reported and directors!

Thinking I was going to solve youth unemployment in Hackney with a cheeky one liner and a biscuit I had all my best pearls of wisdom at the ready. Boy was I wrong!

Getting back in the training room was a real shock as I forgot I was actually dealing with real life people, all looking for different jobs with different needs at different stages in their journey. Most of which were only half listening to the life lessons I had on offer.

I think I was mixing in my head the need to move them into employment with the need to tick that box. That I could solve their problems like I was ticking then off my to do list. Giving a young person a job is not the same as teaching them how to get one themselves? It took me to get out from my desk to remember this.

But how did this fit in with the expectations of the young people that are referred to us or the referral partners looking to Circle Collective to tick their box? As a charity Circle Community are paid on the number of young people who we place into jobs but our values and ethos is based on teaching young people life lessons needed to get the jobs themselves. Where does that leave us?

Most were good kids that just needed a job but expected one to fall in their lap. Most didn't even realise how lucky they are that Circle Collective has loyal corporate sponsors and a determined CEO creating jobs in the back ground.

I found myself thinking of ways to subtly drop the life lessons in workshops in the same way that my mum used to blend veg into my baked beans to make sure I got my 5 a day but again does this teach anyone anything?

A week away gives you lots of time to reflect. Working in the sector I'm here because I want to make a difference. Youth unemployment and our next generations lack skill for thinking for oneself won't be solved with box tickers.

My challenge now will be to find a way to give them these skills, make sure they know they have them and focus on supporting short and long term career planning, so whilst they are looking for that career in music or plumbing apprenticeship that taking a job ANY job will benefit them more.

Circle Sports is now Circle Collective!

Isaac Smith Product Owner - 22/07/2016

On 14/07/2016 we held a relaunch event after six years as Circle Sports we have become Circle Collective. That change is to reflect our shift in focus from sport to youth employment. In the last year we have assembled a new training team, revamped our website, begun to produce our own clothing line in partnership with the London College of Fashion and have got over 30 young people into employment.

The event was a celebration of all the hard work everyone has put in over the past 6 year. With our team, trainees, young designers, trustees, corporate supporters, partners and various other member of the Circle Collective family in attendance, including local celebrity Maddy Hill. The evening kicked off with a fashion show MCed by our own Retail Director Leigh Wilson. With our trainees and Trainer Charlie Ward rocking the catwalk, Leigh manged to not only showcase the talent of our young designers he also highlight the hard work and successes of our trainees who’s new found confidence shone through as they modelled in front of the full house.

Next up our Trustee and fashion industry expert Michael Gerrard, awarded the prizes to the winner of the London College of fashion manufacturing completion for their excellent work on the first piece in Circle Collective’s own line a jacket with integrated backpack which we hope to have in store soon.

This year thanks to our partnership with John Lewis we have been able to refit the shop and install a new sign which has made us a landmark on Kingsland Highstreet. Maddie Hucks who is part of the CSR team in John Lewis Stratford, was a massive part of making this happen. Maddie truly understands what we do a Circle Collective and after some moving words presented CEO Turly Humphreys with a cheque for £15,000. Thank you John Lewis for your continued support.

Last but by no means least we held a graduation ceremony for our trainees. Training Director Ellaine McCulloch started by letting everyone know why she chose to work a Circle Collective simply put ‘because we really care about the young people we work with.’ Charlie fresh from his stint on the catwalk, gave us an insight into his work as primary trainer and the successes of our trainees.

Jan Barratt from Experian joined our training team to present certificates to the trainees, several of them took this opportunity talk about their experiences and to thank the Circle Collective team. Seeing them speak with such confidence and positivity was inspiring. Training partner H from InnerI capped off the ceremony which one of his characteristic straight talking and uplifting speeches leaving us all with something to think about.

There was a buzz in the air as proceedings came to an end, as host for the evening I turned the spotlight on Turly. As always putting young people first Turly simply thanked everyone who has been involved in Circle Collective’s journey over the last 6 years, and congratulated to success of the young people at the heart of it.

Thank you Experian, John Lewis, Land Securities and London College of Fashion for your continued support and helping us to put on such a fantastic event.

Circle Collective is born…

Leigh Wilson Retail Manager - 08/06/2016

After 18 months of creative workshops, market research, council planning, fruitless attempts to find an interior designer and organising a complete redesign of the shop, Thursday 12th May was a landmark day for the newly rebranded Circle Collective…..Why?

Our new MASSIVE neon shop front signage was installed and it was a real WOW factor for everyone involved. We now feel we are a permanent fixture in the ever evolving Dalston area and the signage is a testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at Circle Collective and the future plans we have both with the training program and new shop identity.

The sign is something that was an initial idea in my head/sketch - to have an ‘urban’ material that would be complemented throughout the shop both internally and externally. The sign is made from a mild steel angle mesh frame, flat cut steel lettering and double outline neon lighting – with our brand new CIRCLE COLLECTIVE logo! The hope is that the sign will not only bring more new customers to the store but is also a destination point for the people of Dalston. Let’s not forget the interior.

We have transformed from a neutral white box to wooden panelled walls, with gaps between each metre, creating a shop within shop experience for each designer, showcasing their seasonal collections and stories.

A new footwear department has been installed with artwork by local street artists, mild steel mesh (to be installed), and introducing strong relationships with the likes of Vans, DC Shoes and Toms. There is still a little way to go with the introduction of branded lightboxes, mesh side fins in between each metre and a quick paintwork job, but the look of the shop epitomises our new vision for supporting the best new London designers and our amazing partnership with the London College of Fashion.

I would like to offer a massive thank you to the following people that have helped support the interior designing, sourcing and near completion, creating a fashionable, vibrant hub for young people to feel comfortable training in:

  • Publicis UK – Initial interior support & inspiration
  • NG Bailey – Full refit team in including new textured walls and electrics
  • John Lewis – Continued support from the amazing Maddie & VM team
  • Nate Wiley – Skilled carpenter who created our new curved till point, shelves and cupboards
  • Steve Earle and the team from KEMP lighting for help in designing and manufacturing the new signage
  • Stacy Yu – Intern in late 2015 who grab the opportunity and helped get the design stage off the ground and to where it is today

I have learnt a lot in the last 18 months of planning the shop redesign for Circle Collective and feel I can add a few new skills to my CV – one of them wouldn’t be patience……but it has been worth the wait and the shop looks great and will keep improving with new plans in place to create a more interactive customer experience with the introduction of tablets to showcase each designer and customers to be able to choose their design, colour and size. Bring on the next 18 months!!

Diversity in the Creative Industries

Turly Humphreys CEO - 20/05/2016

Last Thursday, 12th May, “SheSays” an international organisation for women in the creative industries organised an event to talk about Creating Diversity in the advertising industry. Sue Higgs invited me to speak about what Circle Collective is doing during her presentation.

A bit of background here, Sue is a member of our advisory board and has become a good friend. She’s a creative director who also has a deep understanding of people and how they think. And, like myself she is passionate about getting young people from all backgrounds into work. She also has a right bee in her bonnet about the “male pale & stale” state of creative industries that employ only from their graduate scheme. Sue calls it the “Josh” scenario.

Having previously presented at London School of Fashion and Experian, I can categorically say public speaking is not my favourite past time. I once even went to a “toastmasters” evening thinking signing up may help, but sadly found that intimidating!

So I decided instead of spending a day practicing I would present off the cuff so I wouldn’t get too worked up about 120 pairs of eyes looking at me.

Sue who had been brimming with confidence got more nervous as the audience streamed in, but I knew there was no need to worry when she went up to share her beautifully put rant!

The room seemed to agree, how can the advertising world sell and represent products when they do not reflect society??!!

After Sue finished her rant, it was my turn. Of course my Powerpoint decided not to work, but it would take more than an IT issue to stop me. Soon I was in the swing of things explaining how Circle Collecive take young local unemployed and support them through inspirational workshops and hands on practical work experience to give them the skills and confidence to secure permanent jobs.

Circle Collective has some amazing stats: 170+ young people were placed into jobs with a 90% retention of them in jobs a year later. There’s also many case studies of young people who have turned their lives around with their newfound confidence.

The Circle Collective presentation was never meant to be an answer to the creative industries problem, how could it? But what was fantastic was the reaction of the people to the room.

It made me so happy to feel the support plus I had great feedback with six women offering their services to help us come up with new ways of getting non-graduates and ethnic youngsters into the industry. We know we need to get the information out to these young people of WHAT opportunities are available and how we can then identify the youngsters who will fit those opportunities and then how we can give them pre-employment training so they understand the expectations when they start in the workplace.

Which all got me to thinking. Let’s start a board of advisors where we come together and brainstorm to create a plan before the apprenticeship levy comes in in April 2017.

So this is all very exciting and timely which hopefully means that we can feed non-grads into the creative industries without being in competition with the grad schemes. Our new group will have an initial meeting next week and create this advisory board.

Henderson, or H as he’s known, is all our favourite coach at Circle Collective. I’ve also invited him aboard our board as he coaches and inspires young people all over London with his unique gift of engaging and communicating with them. H understands young people and can help us look at ways of identifying those who would suit the industry and also in ways we can deliver information to schools and places where young people gather for career information.

Exciting times at Circle Collective! Both Sue and I are thrilled about creating momentum for this project and all involved. Let’s hope that it’s the start of creating a more diversity future for the creative industries.