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The Social Studio's Luka Rey On Creating Meaningful Change Through Fashion

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 weeks ago | Features

Image: One of the talented students of The Social Studio, Obinna, making himself a pair of jeans. Image source.

Founded in 2009, The Social Studio is a non-profit striving to create a safe workplace for refugees and new migrant workers. This social enterprise champions diversity, education and sustainable design. They manufactured our Again & Again dresses, so we asked Production Manager Luka Rey to tell us more.

WMC: How did The Social Studio start?
 It was founded in Melbourne when a group of community members – led by Dr Grace McQuilten – developed a plan to use fashion as a vehicle for social change within refugee youth communities. A Certificate III training program was established and is now accredited through RMIT university. 10 years on, we have supported over 700 people through our education and training programs. 

Tell us about what you do?
We’re a grass-roots not-for-profit, dedicated to creating long-term and rewarding pathways into education and employment for young people from refugee or new migrant backgrounds. Our ethical and sustainable business model uses the vehicle of fashion – including a fashion school, fashion label, ethical clothing manufacturing business, and retail store – to create meaningful social change. 

Can you describe your work environment?
We proudly boast 10 years of ECA accreditation and have a tight knit team of skilled makers. Our work environment encourages one another to support and problem solve as a team, allowing all staff to feel a sense of pride. We’re supporting and celebrating cultural diversity, opening up perspectives, creating sustainable social development and cohesion, promoting creative industries and cultural entrepreneurship.

What is your goal?
We aim to create a safe space where refugee communities can come and express themselves, be part of a thriving and supportive community, create lasting connections and invest in life changing opportunities. Our model develops work and life skills in a highly motivating context and encourages young people to follow their aspirations and be champions for change. We provide TAFE level training, work experience, volunteer opportunities and employment in fashion, manufacturing and retail, creating imperative education and employment opportunities and pathways. 


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