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September 20, 2019 7 min read

Emerald Berlin is a social startup, an initiative to motivate young minds with the thought to associate themselves to a social cause they believe in.

After you’ve already read a few stories about the origins of some of the organisations we work with in our project section, I’m going to tell you a little bit more about how EMERALD BERLIN came into being and what we actually do.

Write us, as always, if you have further questions, suggestions or comments. We are always very happy to hear from you.

I would like to start our little story today by introducing you to the "I" and the "We" behind EMERALD.

Hi my name is Barbara and I am the founder of EMERALD BERLIN. When I talk about "I" on our channels, it’s mostly me. Why? Because among 1000 other things, I also take care of our social media channels and answer your emails when you write to us. 
Thomas has been working with me on EMERALD for a few months now and mainly takes care of everything that has to do with numbers and data. We are the core team.

In addition, we have wonderful people around us who support us in our work. Magda – who helps us to put our statements on our shirts, Sebastian – who developed our complete shop and who always supports us with technical support, Michi- who also often supports me in during the design process when I’m just too much in the tunnel and many others who always help us out when we need help. Thanks a lot. You are the best.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because this support is the reason why we can do this project like we do it.

Those of you who have been following this blog and our Instagram profile a bit longer may know that I have my professional background in the fashion and lifestyle industry. I actually had the basic idea for EMERALD during the last US presidential election. At that time the "Make America great again" was everywhere and was immediately associated with the current president. Even though this sentence is maybe almost as old as the republican party itself.

At that time I once again became aware of how powerful textiles can be and how far messages can be spread through them.

But how can we use this power in such a way that it can actually change something for the better in this world?
My first thought was to motivate young people, in particular, to go and vote through messages on shirts. However, it must be said that this is maybe a very seasonal business due to our legislative periods. 

But the idea was born and took more and more space in my mind.
At that time I was still working full-time for a subsidiary of a large mail order company as Head of Brand Management for various fashion brands. And also the topic "sustainable fashion" became more and more important and interesting for me.
A few months later, at Christmas, I received a letter from the organisation for which I have been donating monthly for years. I didn’t really consciously choose this organisation at that time. To be honest, I didn’t really care where I was helping, just that I was doing something.

Over the years more organisations have been added. Here, too, my decision was often not really conscious.

So when I received this letter, it also contained a small letter from my godchild from the other side of the world telling me about his personal progress.

The letter started with DEAR SPONSOR - "Sponsor"… I thought. And although that might be a good description, it somehow didn’t feel right to me. Somehow wrong. Somehow meaningless.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it really was like that. I was a sponsor. I had been donating money for him and his family for years. But I never answered his letters. Somehow it was always unpleasant for me. What should I write? Hello *** – this weekend I went out with my friends and I spent at one evening just for myself, just for fun as much money as you and your family have to live for a month? – I know it’s very exaggerated and the thought process may not be immediately comprehensible, but I think it best describes what was going on in me for years when I thought about answering him.

So why did I find it so strange to be addressed as a "sponsor"?

As already mentioned, I didn’t consciously decide for an organisation at that time. At that time I simply searched online for a sponsorship and decided for the organisation that appeared at the top of the search engine results and seemed trustworthy to me. On the "selection card" for the sponsorship, I then checked all the criteria to make sure I didn’t care. At that time this seemed completely correct to me. Why should I prefer any country or gender?

However, the more I was concerned with the idea, the more I realised that I was completely missing the connection to the topic I support. I was never in the country of his origin. I don’t know his life circumstances and I have no other relation to the organisation. I also chose the sponsorship model because I knew it from the media. Not because I believed that it was „my model“. Don’t get me wrong. I still donate to this organisation and I think they do a wonderful job. But I never talk about this topic and I never try to inspire other people to do the same.

But how and where can you actually inform yourself about social topics and find quickly and clearly a topic which interests you and that you would like to support not only financially, but also with your voice?

This question, in connection with my basic idea of wanting to use the power of textiles to spread messages, ultimately led to the development of the concept of EMERALD BERLIN.
I have been working on this project for exactly one year now. And well – what can I say – it is more than just a heart project for me. It’s my baby. It accompanies me every day. And even though I am still far away from what I want to achieve, every now and then it fills me with pride that I have created it.

But what exactly do we do at EMERALD BERLIN and is EMERALD really more than just a new fashion label?

At EMERALD BERLIN we take the important messages of the organisations we work with and make statements out of them which we then use for our cloth. At the same time, we have set up our shop in such a way that you can learn as briefly and as interestingly as possible about the background of the projects we work with at different levels. It is especially important to us that we only present one topic of an organisation at a time. Not because we don’t find all topics important, but because we believe that we can explain the topics better for you and that they will stay in your head longer by doing so.

As our statements can be carried around visibly, everyone who wears our products becomes a multiplier for the messages of the organisations. Or don’t you think it’s pretty cool that you can always tell a nice and interesting story when someone asks you about your shirt or sweater instead of just saying the brand you got it from? I love that!! 

In order to spread our messages even further and to make more people aware of the wonderful projects, we work with influencers. We are always very enthusiastic about how many people want to support us with their voices. We know that this is not a matter of course. Therefore at this point we would like to thank all those who have already used their reach to support us and the projects we work with.
I believe a question that many of you are interested in and that I am often got asked is if you have to if you are interested in one of our products to take a product of the organisation that you would like to support personally because you are so excited about the topic.

And my answer is always the same. No! If you are wearing an EMERALD shirt, you are wearing a shirt that was developed with a very specific reference and which is based on a very special story, but you can also tell your own story about your chosen statement. You will also become a supporter. And not only for the organisation whose message you wear, but for all organisations through the construction of our online shop.

Another question I am often asked is if we are a "donation portal / donation model" for the organisations. And this question is also easy for us to answer.

No! we are not!

Our main concern is not to generate as much "income" as possible for the organisations, but to bring their messages into the world and to make people aware of them in a sustainable way. This is probably called marketing in a way.

Nevertheless, we also want to support the organisations financially and have therefore decided that we would like to give 80% of our surplus to the organisations.

However, none of the organisations we work with works with us because of the money. And that is also very important to us.

We spread their stories in their name and hope that some of you, far beyond buying one of our products, will find a topic that will inspire you and that you want to support. One of our principles is that we believe that anyone can be a supporter. Everyone in his really own way. It is not always just donations that make you a supporter (even if the organisations are permanently dependent on donations) but sometimes it is even enough to infect others with your enthusiasm and tell a story to help them. And we hope you will continue to tell wonderful stories with us in the future. Thank you for your wonderful support.

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