If you want something done properly, you best do it yourself; that's what our parents always taught us.
Let me tell you how our journey into social entrepreneurism began.
We were (Ryan Riley and Kimberley Duke) around aged six when we started our beautiful, interesting friendship and straight up we formed a bond revolving around social awareness, not that we knew it at the time. By the age of ten Ryan was head of the school council and set up and ran the school tuck shop, I was deputy, a fact he'll never let me forget. Ryan always had a strong interest in business and left school with an A in business and D's in everything else, he knew what he wanted. I've always been a creative soul, making things and customising everything I owned and found.
After leaving school we both found it hard to settle into the regime that was college and instead, moved into our own place and decided to focus our time on the business world, gaining experience and making contacts anywhere and everywhere we could. Our first opportunity which really moulded us into the dynamic we are today was a job we blagged dressing a Newcastle fashion shops windows. We walked in, convinced we could do a better job and told the owner of the shop we were students looking for some experience. We convinced her to let us dress her shop and instantly fell in love with the idea of making the customer experience more exciting with better shop design and prettier windows. We set off with no budget and just ourselves to salvage anything we could to make the shop look better and most importantly attract more customers.
With our first opportunity in our pockets we decided to start studying and researching anything we could to do with good brands and what made them special and started coming up with our own ideas on what would work. Once we had a little experience we found opportunities everywhere to work with people and gain more knowledge and understanding. All the while we were doing this we noticed something was happening; A social change. We were shocked and worried to see so many shops on our high streets closing down and so many people we knew and loved were losing their jobs. We couldn't just do nothing so again, this became our new obsession and we poured our time into finding out why this was happening and what the issues where surrounding this.
A long while and many months of contact building later we found out a company called Live Unltd, they helped social enterprises gain funding and mould their projects so we got in touch. Unltd helped us to understand what our role could be in the social enterprise spectrum and helped us with the funding and contacts we needed to build ourselves into a working brand and also gave us the confidence to go out and seek bigger opportunities for ourselves. After a few more months of introducing ourselves to the market and more exciting developments that came our way, we came across O2 Think Big who work with UnLtd and they gave us the opportunity to pitch for more funding to grow our project even more.
The Us Society is now a fully-fledged social enterprise on a mission to help change the way smaller business interact with their customers to help them gain back the upper hand from massive corporates. Consumerism is at the heart of everything we do as a society, and we believe that people deserve a more interactive buying experience if they're spending their money with a business. We aim to empower small independents with ideas to give that better experience.
Track our progress and also find creative and budget conscious visual marketing ideas for your business at theussociety.com
Ryan Riley & Kimberley Duke
THE US SOCIETY