Finding the Origin: UK’s First Non-Profit Retail Brand

“Give-back” companies have been on the rise these last couple of years. Companies such as Ivory Ella, Altar’d State, Toms, Pura Vida, The Giving Keys, and Project 7 are just some of the hundreds of companies that use part of their own profits to benefit non-profit organizations. They’ve built schools, provided jobs to the homeless, gifted children with shoes, and even helped save the elephants! But, what if I told you there was a company out there that was 100% non-for-profit?

Welcome to Origin, the United Kingdom’s first fully non-for-profit retail brand. Founders Tom and Alice Cracknell launched Origin last year, completely from a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to not only fund community driven needs-based projects in developing countries such as Mali, Ethiopia, and The Gambia, but also prove that fashion and retail can be used as a force for good and make a real difference in the world.

Tom and Alice Cracknell

Could a company be anymore amazing? The answer is yes, Origin’s products are all hand-woven and hand-dyed by tribes in the regions that they support. Their products are also all made out of high-quality, organic cotton and created through sustainable practices. Through this “circular social business” they are able to support local artisans in Africa through the traditional creation of fabrics, produce ethical garments in the UK using these creations, and then take the profits from Origin to put back into these communities by funding these needs-based projects.

Within the first 4 months, Origin was able to use their profits of almost $6,460 (5,000 pounds) to invest in their Ethiopian project, located in Debark, Ethiopia, which is one of their most challenging projects thus far. This is due to the location being one of the world’s worst areas for water, sanitation, and hygiene-related illnesses (also known as WASH).


But Debark is not Origin’s only current project, the Cracknell’s are also using their non-profit organization to support a small HIV clinic that provides affordable medication in Gambia, as well as a malnutrition project, a women’s empowerment training and education course in Mali.

Of course a company with a mission such as Origin’s has to have some level of specific needs and qualities a project must have to be applicable for their help. Thus, Origin provides 4 “Project Principles“: each project has to be locally led, sustainable, have a social impact goal, as well as being appropriate culturally and realistically for the community.

With no other employees besides Alice and Tom, Origin hopes to double turnover in 2019 through their new summer collection and their newer marketing efforts. But they aren’t planning on stopping there, with lots of determination and support, the Cracknell’s plan to raise $52,000 (40,000 pounds) through their Crowdfund, hoping to put half of the funds into the new summer collection, a quarter to help build the brand up and revenue channels, and the last bit to establish some new project locations.


As of right now, Origin offers a variety of products, such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, and headbands. All their products, that are being currently offered, range from around $20 to a little over $100, depending on the specific item. Each sweatshirt features a unique pocket handmade from the countries they support through their profits and projects and each headband is created using traditional waxed cotton.

So go ahead, buy a sweatshirt or a headband, you know you want to! And hey, it’s for a good cause, too!

•To learn more about Origin and their projects, visit: Origin or Forbes.•

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