As we reported back in September, the creative agency Free Range Studios–the minds behind viral Internet hits including The Meatrix–opened up its yearly YouTopia grant this year to for-profit companies as well as non-profits. When asked about the shift to allow for-profits to apply for the grant this year, Free Range co-founder Jonah Sachs said the differences between for- and non-profit companies has been getting blurred as for-profit firms begin operating with goals and priorities that have traditionally been seen only in the non-profit realm.
Indigenous Designs is one of those for-profits that has been blurring the for-profit/non-profit line throughout its 15 year history of selling organic, fair trade apparel made by artisans from around the world.
The company announced last week that it won the 2009 YouTopia grant–which provides $15,000 worth of free design and strategy services from Free Range. The winner was selected partly through a crowdsourced model; the studio’s client and fan base were asked to vote on the proposals from grant applicants in order to select the top 10 candidates.
Voters were asked to select a for-profit company that showed itself to be committed to growing their businesses without abandoning the commitment to environmental sustainability and fair labor practices. Free Range then went in and selected a winner from the top ten applicants in the for-profit and the non-profit categories.
In making the award, Free Range issued this statement: “Today, nearly every brand is offering ‘responsible’ products, even as many continue to pollute and plunder. It’s time to set the record straight and tell the stories of the real heroes and pioneers, like Indigenous, who weave the healing of culture and the planet into everything they do.”
The winning Indigenous Designs proposal, called “One Mindful Purchase,” is to use video, marketing and point-of-purchase educational materials to show fashion shoppers how the Indigenous business model puts people and the planet ahead of profits, yet still produces highest quality styles that stand out in the marketplace.
Indigenous beat out more than 400 other company entries to finish in the top spot.
The winner of the non-profit category is EARTH University, an organization that is working toward planting 200,000 trees and, in the process, inspire hundreds of thousands of people with this symbolic and concrete act. For the grant, Free Range will produce a 30-second ad to run around the world on CNN International to get the word out and encourage participants.