First of all, tell us about Famin Makes.
Famin Makes is a personal project that I run which involves me sewing hats, facemasks and scrunchies, selling them, and donating 100% of the proceeds to Women's Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ). WLSQ is an organisation that provides free legal advice to women facing domestic violence, and also advocates for systemic change regarding domestic violence.
Where did the idea for Famin Makes come from?
I was set to graduate from my Law and Arts degrees in July 2019, and had a job lined up for January 2020. So I had a 6 month break set for that time. A lot of my university friends had planned to travel in that period, but I couldn’t do that. I had to stay home to look after my mum and sister because at the time, there was a complex ongoing domestic violence situation going on in my family home, so I had to stay home to deal with that.
I was worried that I might be bored for the 6 months, so I wanted something to do. Inspired by another social enterprise which I came across, I thought of this concept where I would sew things and donate the proceeds to charity. Sewing itself wasn't a new skill for me – I've been sewing clothes since I was quite young, having picked it up from my mum. However, the concept of combining my sewing skills with a social enterprise project was new.
I initially started sewing hats for Famin Makes, with a view to expanding into clothes. But then hats became SUPER popular, SUPER fast, and turned out to be way easier to make lots of compared to clothes, because of universal sizing and style. I've still stuck with hats as my main product, but do sometimes release other items like facemasks and scrunchies.
How much money have you raised through Famin Makes?
Since starting the project in mid-2019, I have raised almost $47,000. The next big milestone is $50,000!
All money raised from Famin Makes is donated directly to Women's Legal Service QLD. Why have you chosen this non-profit?
As mentioned earlier, I have experienced domestic violence in my own family. In May 2019, I actually went to WLSQ with a friend to try and seek advice about my own family situation. Before COVID, WLSQ used to run free in person drop-in advice clinics for women facing domestic violence sessions. They started at 5:30pm, twice a week, and ran for a couple of hours.
My friend and I arrived at 5:45pm to one of those advice clinics. We got turned away. By the time we had arrived, the clinic was already at full capacity for that night, and had already turned 6 vulnerable women away. We witnessed one woman who, upon being turned away, burst out into tears. We could not stop thinking about what type of danger she was returning home to that night. I still think about that woman to this day.
I later found out that in 2019, WLSQ could not pick up 40% of the calls it received from women facing domestic violence on its free advice helpline. That was 6,600 women that were unable to be helped. Having lived through domestic violence myself, I can tell you that it is actually like waking up into a dangerous nightmare everyday. To know that so many thousands of women who are facing that situation are trying to seek help and getting turned down just really breaks my heart.
For my family, advice that we eventually received from WLSQ (when I went back about 6 months later, after I had already started Famin Makes), was a turning point for trying to leave our situation. But WLSQ is unfortunately cannot provide that advice to so many women who need it – simply due to underfunding.
When you're not making hats / scrunchies / masks for Famin Makes, what are you doing?
I'm actually a full-time corporate lawyer by day. I fit in running Famin Makes on weeknights and weekends. Other than work and Famin Makes, I spend a lot of time with family (particularly my 10 year old sister) and friends, and do lots of walking (my favourite form of exercise because I'm too lazy to commit to anything else). I also love watching TV, but I specifically only watch feel-good TV.
How did your collaboration with JRC come about?
My friend Jess went to a JRC warehouse sale in early 2021. She messaged me after telling me that Kate and Chloe from JRC complimented the hat she was wearing, which was a Famin Makes hat! Jess explained to them the backstory about Famin Makes in response. Then JRC followed me on Instagram, at which point I was ALREADY starstruck. I sent you guys a message, asking if you had any offcuts which you would consider donating. And then it went from there! I can't believe how generous JRC has been in donating offcuts which such cool prints, and also promoting the Famin Makes project on its own socials! It's really helped raise the profile of Famin Makes and helped raise so much money!
Have you got a favourite JRC print?
My favourite is definitely the Girls Rule print in collaboration with Brook Gossen (because girls do rule).