By Kara Bertoncini
In a fast-paced society it is humbling to know there are people like Nick Pearce taking the initiative to create awareness.
Mr Pearce is one of the co-founders of HoMie, a Melbourne-based social enterprise aimed at giving the homeless of Melbourne clothing and basic needs as they strive to find their place in this world.
“We call it the street store that gives. For every transaction that’s made in store, we give an item of clothing to someone who is experiencing homelessness,” Mr Pearce said.
HoMie has been open for a couple of months in Melbourne Central Shopping Centre and facilitates VIP shopping days with respective homeless services in the hope of reinvigorating the disadvantaged.
“It’s not all about the clothing in a sense. It’s about providing an experience and treating these people with the dignity and respect they deserve. It’s all about creating a dignified shopping experience and providing a bit of a pick-me-up so hopefully they can walk out of the store and be taller in the streets,” Mr Pearce said.
It is quite common for passers-by to assume the worst in homeless people and not give them a second thought. Mr Pearce is hoping to change people’s views on this and really engage with the community about being open minded.
“For us, it was about providing an alternative perspective towards people that were experiencing homelessness. Even if you watch our videos and come into the store and see what we do, it can really change your perception of how you thought things were,” he said.
The business model of such a social enterprise does encounter various challenges, such as remaining on trend, but with transparency as their main focus, it is reassuring for consumers to know that their contributions are making a difference.
“It was about making sure we could first and foremost build a business structure and model that could be emulated elsewhere and be effective in the long run. It’s been slow going but I think now people are starting the see the positive impact we’re having.”
“There’s definitely scope for it to develop and I think what’s so great about the model is that it’s transparent. You see exactly where your contribution is going,” he said.
The success of HoMie has far exceeded the expectations of Mr Pearce and his mates with demand now outweighing supply. For those wanting to contribute to this incredible initiative, he encourages making purchases as well as quite simply just starting the conversation.
“It’s all about creating awareness and exposure, so maybe telling your friends about it, sharing a post, even just checking in with what we’re doing every now and then and watching the videos we post,” he said.
Raising $15,000 by crowd funding and successfully obtaining a grant from Street Smart Australia, $20,000 could be channelled into this project.
“It’s a store by the people for the people. It’s been a real community project and collaboration and I think that’s the way going forward. Just meaningful and effective collaboration between like-minded services and people.”
“It’s nice to know we might have started something that can continue into the future. It’s more about creating a movement and a shift in culture,” Mr Pearce said.
To keep updated on the work these guys do, you can follow HoMie and Homeless of Melbourne on Facebook and Instagram.