Secret Projects Community Benefit Society is one-year old!

 23rd Sep 2020 |  Blog |  Margaret Ring


It seems like only yesterday that Secret Projects founder and CEO, Fritha Mason, made the decision to put the business up for sale, meaning that anyone, whether old or young could purchase shares and... Secret Projects Community Benefit Society sprang into life! We are now owned by a body of 264 Shareholders and are proud to count a group of young people among our numbers - the next generation of social and ethical investors!

What a year it's been! We can only describe our journey over the last 12 months as almost surreal, not least that within 5 months we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic with countries around the world in lockdown. As soon as the reality of the situation became clear, we made a firm decision that we were going to survive and adapt the organisation to ensure that when lockdowns began to ease, we could get our bearings once more and thrive.

We knew that to survive, immediate action was needed and we put a raft of measures in place to protect Secret Projects, going into lockdown as a business to protect our Maker Community and team. In the UK, we took advantage of the government's furlough scheme for employees and applied for a government backed loan offered to businesses to assist during such an unprecedented time. In India we explored what help the government might be able to offer and put plans in place to sell 45% of our India subsidiary company's share capital to Shareholders who want to help grow the business and support our mission to empower women.

Our major concern was of course, for our Maker Community and we took great pains to contact the women to update them about our situation and to assure them that we were going to survive, with plans to begin production as soon as possible after the easing of lockdown. Fortunately, prior to the pandemic, we had made changes to our payment methods to Makers and began to send their money via bank transfer, rather than by cheque. This was invaluable, as obviously we couldn't travel to hand out the cheques and it also meant that we could get money to the women at this critical time.

At the forefront of our minds we kept believing that somehow, we could find a way to 'future proof' Secret Projects against other similar situations in a way that would still give us good access to our Maker Community, regardless of travel or other restrictions. We hit on a concept to deliver our training virtually and we are busy putting product training videos and materials together to be delivered to our Maker Communities via courier. We are planning to carry on this with this method for the foreseeable future - and so, our thriving began!

The thriving continues... our on-line retails stores are now open for shopping with customers being able to make purchases in Euro's, Rupees, GBP as well as US Dollars. We believe that this can only lead to the story of Secret Projects spreading to a wider and wider audience - our dream! Gorgeous new Secret Projects have raised their heads - from blankets to kimonos and one of our Maker Groups in West Bengal is back in production, with others to follow. The thriving list gets longer each week!

Our Shareholders are a massive support to us and we continue to give others the opportunity to purchase shares to join us on our journey to empower. And so, we begin our second year knowing that the world is still in an unpredictable position and it's not at all easy for businesses around the globe, but with a quiet confidence that our foundations are firm and will help us continue to thrive.

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Introducing Fabric by the Metre... as featured on Simply Sewing Magazine's Pinboard!

Introducing Fabric by the Metre... as featured on Simply Sewing Magazine's Pinboard!

We are so very excited to bring to you one of our latest ranges... Fabric by the Metre. We are even more excited to tell you that this gorgeous . . . collection of fabrics has made it's debut on Simply Sewing Magazines January 2021 Pinboard! See above! We absolutely adore fabrics at Secret Projects! Over the years, we have found some excellent fabric suppliers and have often dreamt of offering our customers the opportunity to buy wonderful material from India.  Through our Customer Trips, over 20 of our customers have travelled with us to India and experienced some magical fabric buying adventures, as we took them to visit markets and suppliers! Yet, we knew that not everyone can jump on a plane with us... One of our Customers then gave us a great idea, when she asked why didn't we think about selling fabric through our on-line retail stores and we jumped on it! Now we can give everyone the opportunity for a similar fabric buying adventure on-line.  There are 32 fabrics in our wonderful range from brights to pastels and lot more colours and shades in between! Whether you are looking for gorgeous florals, bold and strong abstracts or cute animal prints, our Fabric by the Metre range will not disappoint. To be introduced to our Fabric by the Metre collections, please go to our our website: secretprojects.org and click on Shop & Travel to shop in GBP, Euros and US Dollars. Have so much creative fun selecting yours and don't forget to let us see what you have made!  
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Secret Projects Online Shopping Guide

Secret Projects Online Shopping Guide

We have put together this useful guide to explain the ins and outs of shopping with us from different countries and sending Secret Products to others . . . throughout the world. We are proud... To be able to offer our Customers a huge range of ways to purchase Secret Products online To sell Secret Products in Rupees, Sterling, Euros and US Dollars. We are constantly exploring adding new currencies To guide our Customers about shopping with us from their respective countries We hope you find the guide useful, but please do get in touch if you have any questions or need further information by emailing orders@secretprojects.org   UK Customers Customers based in the UK, who would like to make their payment in Sterling can shop in the following ways: Our official Online UK Retail Store Products are shipped from India with the current delivery time of 10 + working days via Aramex Courier service. Please note: For orders received in the UK, the recipient may find they will be charged for the VAT on the goods by the UK Customs and Excise Department. If this charge is levied, it is the responsibility of the recipient to make the payment. *Full range of Secret Products available and we are currently offering 6 Secret Shopping Bags for the price of 5. https://retailuk.secretprojects.org   Etsy Products are shipped from our headquarters in West Sussex with a delivery time of 3-5 working days via Royal Mail. International shipping options are also available. *Limited range available, but new products are being added all the time https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Secretprojectshop   The Big Issue Shop Products are shipped from our headquarters in West Sussex with a delivery time of 3-5 working days via Royal Mail. Currently shipping is only within the UK. *Limited range of Secret Products available. Prices are slightly lower https://www.bigissueshop.com/vendor/secret-projects   Crowdfunder UK We are currently running a sale of our personalised Secret Pillows until 16th December (4.30pm). Once the Crowdfunder has ended, we will be moving the pillows to our Etsy store. Delivery time is 3-5 working days, so please order through Crowdfunder to receive your personalised Secret Pillow/s before Christmas. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/christmas-sale-personalised-secret-pillows Join our Secret Projects Bargain Basement Facebook Group Payment is via BACS and shipping is only within the UK. *End of line, seconds and scrap fabrics available https://www.facebook.com/groups/2057766367874048   European Customers Customers based in the Europe, who would like to make their payment in Euros can shop in the following ways: Our official Retail Europe Online Store Products are shipped from India with the current delivery time of 10 + working days via Aramex Courier service. Please note: For orders received in the UK, the recipient may find they will be charged for the VAT on the goods by the UK Customs and Excise Department. If this charge is levied, it is the responsibility of the recipient to make the payment. *Full range of Secret Products available and we are currently offering 6 Secret Shopping Bags for the price of 5. https://retaileurope.secretprojects.org/   Etsy Products are shipped from our headquarters in West Sussex with a delivery time of 3-5 working days via Royal Mail. International shipping options are also available. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Secretprojectshop *Limited range available, but new products are being added all the time     USA Customers Customers based in the USA who would like to make their payment in US Dollars, can shop in the following ways: Our official Retail USA Online Store Products are shipped from India with the current delivery time of 10 + working days via Aramex Courier service. Please note: For orders received in the UK, the recipient may find they will be charged for the VAT on the goods by the UK Customs and Excise Department. If this charge is levied, it is the responsibility of the recipient to make the payment. *Full range of Secret Products available and we are currently offering 6 Secret Shopping Bags for the price of 5. https://retailusa.secretprojects.org/   Etsy Products are shipped from our headquarters in West Sussex with a delivery time of 3-5 working days via Royal Mail. International shipping options are also available. *Limited range available, but new products are being added all the time. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Secretprojectshop   Personal Shopping with Secret Projects! We are able to offer our Customers a one-hour virtual personal shopping experience to give you time to browse through our collections of clothing and homeware and learn a little more about our Maker Communities who lovingly stitch Secret Products. To arrange this, please email Secret Projects CEO, Fritha Mason: fritha@secretprojects.org or send her a WhatsApp message on: +44 (0)7824 999675. Please enjoy shopping for Secret Products and thank you for journeying with us towards our vision of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities. If you would like further information or have any questions, please let us know by emailing orders@secretprojects.org Many thanks.
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From the Heart of... our Team

From the Heart of... our Team

We are proud to introduce Fritha, Secret Projects founder and CEO, as part of our 'From the Heart of' series.  Through this collection of stories, we . . . want to take you to the centre of Secret Projects, right to our heart to discover what drives us as we journey towards our vision of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities. What keeps us going? What joy and love do we encounter on the way to women's empowerment? Get to know Fritha a little more by reading the interview below about her work with Secret Projects and a little about his home life below:    Question: In a nutshell, what does your role at Secret Projects consist of? Fritha: I am the CEO and Head of New Business and Sales. My role as CEO is a much smaller part of my role, as we are a small business at the moment. My main focus is making sure the business runs legally, effectively, has the impact we set out to and our staff, Shareholders and Customers are happy.   Question: Is there a typical day for you in your role? What does it look like? Fritha: Secret Projects is nearly a 24 hour a day business because India is almost 6 hours ahead of the UK. So Secret Projects opens at 5am my time (I am based in the UK) and shuts at 6pm. I am dyslexic so that makes me an early riser because I find I am most able to read and write early in the morning. So my day starts at 5am when my phone starts pinging with the many essential WhatsApp groups used by our global team. I drink tea, respond to the WhatsApp messages and write lists of what I need to do that day. Each day has a theme to it; for example, Wednesday is called 'Opportunity Tracker' day and I dedicate the day to networking with people and opening up new business opportunities. I check my emails with a bowl of cereal, walk my beloved dog Digger around the park and then I start. My days are all different but they all involve lots of talking via Microsoft Teams, emailing, working on e-commerce sites and thinking creativity about how to make things happen. I love working and as soon as I start I don’t look up and sometimes it feels as if the end of the working day comes about too early!   Question: What did you do before Secret Projects? Fritha: I was a charity fundraiser specialising in Major Donors and Community Fundraising. I started Secret Projects when I was the CEO of a UK charity raising funds for education and community projects in India called Adventure Ashram. I also ran my own charity fundraising consultancy and worked a lot for the Dry January Campaign run by Alcohol Change UK.   Question: What do you find most fulfilling about working with Secret Projects? Fritha: Paying our Makers. We pay our Makers on the 15th of each month via bank transfer. I love that da!. I also find sales fulfilling because every sale leads to us being able to have a new transaction with one of our Makers.   Question: How does your role at Secret Projects empower you? Fritha: I am not ok with the social injustices embedded into our world’s social, economic and governmental structures. I want every day of my adult life to be pushing to disrupt those structures and help prove that an equal world is a better world. Secret Projects offers me a role from which to be disruptive… People empower me. And I have met so many people through Secret Projects. Each one of them empowers in a different way. Secret Projects pushes me all the time beyond by comfort zone. I am comfortable out there because I am dyslexic and thrive when things are at their most challenging, it is what I am used too.   Question: Tell us a little about your life away from work. Fritha: I am madly in love with a man called Olaf. We met only 3 and half years ago and now we are civil partners. We are foster carers, we are building our own home in West Sussex (UK) and we are also having a baby in the Spring of 2021. I love walking my dog Digger, growing food at our allotment and sewing and making things. I also love hanging out with my family and friends, camping, going to the beach and selling at car boot sales! I love India too, but I won’t go into that because it is linked to work!!! Here are a few question just for fun! Question: Dancing or walking? Fritha: Dancing on a walk! Question: Going out for the evening or staying at home? Fritha: Impossible question… If I stay at home I will be asleep by 7pm…which is delicious and if I go out, I stay awake which is delicious too. Question: If you could call up anyone in the world and have a 1hour conversation, who would you call? Fritha: I would call my hero, the King of Social Business, Professor Yunus. He owns a Secret Pillow. I would ask him to coach me for 1 hour… And to finish... Question: As Secret Projects drives people to think about India what do you want to tell the world about India? What do you love most about the country? Fritha: People ask me this question all the time. My love for India is complex… but I suppose what I love about India is the way it makes me feel. I go there and it wakes me up. It makes me understand what it means to be a human being and how to be truly alive. There is an urgency about India and an urgency to live your short life well, be grateful and just get on with it. Photo: Fritha with a Secret Sari Dress. Photographer: Sebastian Xander   If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read this.
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