The Business Overview of Secret Projects
Secret Projects - An introduction
Secret Projects is the home of Secret Pillow Project and Secret Sari Dress Project. Secret Projects empowers women in India through the making and selling of foldable, useful, purposeful and charming products. For example, a Secret Pillow is a pillow that unfolds into a blanket.
Established in 2014, Secret Pillow Project operates as a social business training and empowering women who are economically challenged. The project connects to them through Indian, grassroots charities/NGOs which support the women to establish government backed self-help groups. Secret Projects invites the women’s group to become makers of its products, trains them and shares the project’s simple POWER mantra.
We believe in ourselves, we support one another, we persist, we think and think again, we trust our instinct, we take pride, we work with joy and we pretend until we know how.
As the women produce products, which are sold internationally their resources and confidence increases.
Through this process the vision of Secret Projects is realised. The project’s dream is a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make their own choices for themselves and their children.
The project has 7 networks of makers. Over 500 women have been trained as makers since the start of the project.
How the project empowers
Secret Projects uses are variety of models to empower women. The basis of these models is a 4 stage empowerment programme, starting with support and introduction from the NGO. The 4 stages are training, professionalism, development and independence.
Manjusha, from Kerala, is a Secret Pillow maker, she says now I can feel what it is like to be an entrepreneur nobody can put me back.
The ultimate goal of the programme is that each maker network will run itself with those who were first trained training others, as well as makers taking on specific roles like fabric sourcing, logistics and training. Each maker network will be supported to develop sales marketing skills so they can find other stitching work locally e.g. uniform making.
Secret Projects products are far more than just a product on a shelf, each tells a unique story and each product is a powerful vehicle of empowerment.
"Secret Pillow is a clever start-up combining the best elements of microfinance and retail. By creating a shop with a powerful social slant, the consumer can feel good by doing good." Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor, The Telegraph.
The empowerment of women is the business of Secret Projects. To assess impact the project has 5 measures, quantitative and qualitative; the number of makers, the number of children they have, quality of production, progress of the women through the 4 stages of empowerment, progress of the women on an individual basis. This information is gathered through an initial maker profile each trainee must fill in, through quality control monitoring and through one to one interviews. These social impact measures are overseen by a group of Guardians, who are women independent from the business, who act as an external and largely independent scrutiny.
Thanks to partnering NGO’s Amrita University, Sacred Heart Brother’s Society and Grace Charitable Trust.
How the business works
Secret Pillow Project is a UK limited company, established in 2014. It has a partner company in India established in 2016, Secret Pillow Project India, responsible for training, production and logistics. Secret Pillow Project UK is leading a steady expansion of its sales bases through a social franchise model. This model is being piloted with Secret Pillow Project USA.
The project operates as a social business, any surplus is ploughed back into development. The growth of Secret Pillow Project has been rapid and a dedicated, global customer base (2000+) has grown through effective pre-order crowdfunding campaigns that have run in UK, USA and most recently India. With crowdfunding, direct sales through an online shops, stockists and the support from passionate philanthropists and social investors, Secret Projects has grown. Confident in the demand for its products, Secret Projects UK sort a loan from Virgin Money. The global business currently turns over in excess of £57k per year.
Secret Projects Customers
Secret Project Customers are a key strength to the business. They share the project’s vision for women. Many of them play a role is telling the story of the project and inspiring further sales of Secret Products. The customers are a tribe who feel connected to the makers because every product comes with a signed certificate from the person that made it. Customers are encouraged to send in photos of their products in use and these are printed and send to the makers groups whenever there is training or connection over material drop off and product pick up. Customers are encourage in some cases to send back postcards of thanks to the makers and feedback is constant requested from the customer base.
Secret Project Works with Big Business
Secret Projects works with big business in a variety of different ways. Click here to read stories of how we are working businesses including international law firm, Hogan Lovells
Links to online shops, crowdfunding history, film and social media
Secret Projects UK: https://www.secretpillow.org.uk/
Secret Projects India: https://www.secretpillowprojects.in/
Secret Projects USA: https://www.secretpillowproject.com/
Secret Projects Crowdfunding history: https://www.secretpillow.org.uk/pages/crowdfunding
Secret Projects Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user39354434
Secret Projects can be found on Instragram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin