Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Liz McGreevy of Re_Threads Is Helping To Change Our World

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Good people want to do good, find other good people who also want to do good. And as it happens, I’ve found a TONNE of amazing people, thinking and doing things differently because that’s what the world needs. Keep looking, you’re not alone.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz McGreevy.

Liz is creative and looking for a change. Change within the fashion industry and the world beyond. Change that uses design, creativity and business to do good by their very being.

Coming from a background of tailors and fabric makers, it was almost destiny that Liz would end up in the fashion industry. Having spent over 15 years working in the industry; understanding, experiencing and realising fundamental flaws, some time out happened. A young family and a different pace of life arrived but the creative spark was being neglected.

Then, during the depths of the pandemic, a message arrived ‘do you want to join the revolution’? And so a curious conversation between Liz and Matt Roche ensued about the sustainability and lifecycle of workwear. What could they do in this space? How could they do it better? In what way could they help and educate others? The why was clear from the get go. And so Re_Threads became reality. A brand with purpose, heart and with soul.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My background is in High Street Womenswear fashion, having spent well over a decade in the industry climbing the ladder, I left feeling somewhat disenchanted with the way the industry was working (or not working!) How women were treated when they chose to have children, the sheer overconsumption and waste that was created with huge overbuys by retailers….and a general feeling I was part of the problem…not part of a solution.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Watching one of our amazing young Rise Futures students change (literally before my eyes) during their work placement opportunity with Re_Threads. The change that happens within them; their confidence grows, their energy and excitement increase and generally just seeing them evolve as people during the process is something I’ll never tire of.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

After having a 7-year hiatus from the industry, and having had a family, the return to ‘work’ has been interesting. Confession, I genuinely had no idea what a GDrive was, Gsheets and a plethora of other workplace tools. These probably aren’t funny moments for colleagues (hello Dinosaur). I felt their frustrations, but I’ve had to laugh my way through it — just to keep going and keep up.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We were built from the get-go, to first give back, before we take. Our social value strategy (and our purpose) is ‘To realise untapped potential. Specifically that of young people who are care experienced. This means we give a minimum of 20% of our profits to our partner charity Rise Futures — which is an amazing charity working alongside and with young people within the care system to give them access to opportunities they have not had.

Alongside this, we also offer work placement opportunities to Rise Students, so that they can gain meaningful experience within the Re_Threads business. Whether it’s social media posts, office admin, design, research or joining in on fit sessions, if it happens we open the doors for them to join in.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

All of the Rise Futures students we have had, have left the program in a much better place. More self-value, confidence and experience. We are not, however, the heroes, THEY are the heroes, overcoming adversity and hurdles we cannot imagine, and still coming back thriving is just so incredibly inspiring! Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership to me is the ability to influence others for the greater good. This isn’t telling them what to do, ordering them to do things better or manipulating them. It is influencing people with how you act, behave and talk.

Who you are as a person and what your principles are, these things speak volumes. Hold yourself high, be a good person, and guide. Leadership is the polar opposite of management. And this, I feel, is where some businesses get it wrong.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

It will be bumpy along the way. But don’t give up. The path from the start of my career has been up and down, however, at the age of 40, I feel like finally, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

If the purpose is missing, it doesn’t matter how much you’re paid you won’t be fulfilled. At various points I thought work harder, get a pay rise, that’ll make you happy. It didn’t. In fact, on reflection, it never would. For me now, my purpose is clear. I’ve wanted to help people for some time, being drawn to different ‘vocational’ career paths whilst being a stay-at-home mum. But here I am, using skills and experience I thought were redundant to help others and build a brand. I found my vocation.

Be empathetic. People have bad days. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. I’ve interacted with a lot of people, whose behaviours have left me wanting. However, we don’t know the full picture. Only they do. Show empathy, it’ll keep you on the right path.

Trust the process. Life sometimes can feel a bit like that. Akin to the creative process. Sometimes we need to go through something to get to the place we want to get to. Trust.

Good people want to do good, find other good people who also want to do good. And as it happens, I’ve found a TONNE of amazing people, thinking and doing things differently because that’s what the world needs. Keep looking, you’re not alone.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There are approx 4.9 million private sector businesses within England. And circa 38,000 young people in care. If even a fraction of those businesses opened their doors to help give a young person opportunity and experience, we might see a very different landscape in a very short space of time.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ because the day always follows the night….. life CAN get better. And will. Trust yourself and keep moving forward.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Another business who have purpose and disrupts the industry, James Watt BrewDog CEO & Co-founder, with them working towards a target of zero emissions in 2023, alongside many other sustainability initiatives I’d love to really pick his brain and learn if workwear is part of this agenda.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Liz McGreevy of Re_Threads Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.