Cat­a­lyst to con­ver­sa­tions

An in­vis­i­ble is­sue hard to ig­nore

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Beef Battle - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

TWO tradies from Bris­bane have started an im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tion about men­tal health through their funky work­wear brand TradeMutt.

The duo spoke at the Young Beef Pro­duc­ers Fo­rum this year at Roma, where they do­nated shirts to be auc­tioned for char­ity, one rais­ing $600.

Ed Ross grew up in Lon­greach on sheep and cat­tle prop­er­ties, worked in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory for three years, and stud­ied agri­cul­tural sci­ence at Mar­cus Old­ham. In 2014, Mr Ross lost one of his close mates in a he­li­copter ac­ci­dent. The loss made Mr Ross re-eval­u­ate his life and move to Bris­bane to be closer to his mates.

He started his car­pen­try ap­pren­tice­ship with Dan Allen. It was the be­gin­ning of a close friend­ship which lead to an im­por­tant ca­reer change.

“Ed was my ap­pren­tice. We spent ev­ery day talk­ing about th­ese crazy ideas we had, and one of those was to make a funky work wear com­pany,” Mr Allen said.

“In the time we were work­ing to­gether I lost one of my best mates to sui­cide. And that for me was quite an eye opener about men­tal health.

“So within the work wear com­pany we learnt about so­cial en­ter­prise. We learnt how we could use our busi­ness for pur­pose.

“We thought we could make this funky work wear and use it as a con­ver­sa­tion starter and try to make tradies and work­ing men and women be able to talk more com­fort­ably and openly about men­tal health.” TradeMutt kicked off in April this year.

“The re­sponse has been phe­nom­e­nal. Ed and I joked about the first line of shirts. We had 1500 shirts and the worst pos­si­ble out­come we could see was that we’d each have 750 shirts to wear to work,” Mr Allen said.

“But we sold out of our line and we’ve had some great com­ments about how we’ve made an in­vis­i­ble is­sue hard to ig­nore.

“I think just know­ing there is a group of men out there, tradies and ru­ral men, get­ting be­hind it and talk about it makes it eas­ier for other peo­ple to feel like it’s okay to talk.

“We’ve had a huge up­take in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. They’ve been one of our big­gest cus­tomers- farm­ers and peo­ple in a re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.” The TradeMutt duo have al­ready sold over 3000 shirts since their launch, start­ing thou­sands of im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions.

Mr Ross said it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to have con­ver­sa­tions about men­tal health dur­ing tough times such as the drought, but also when things are go­ing okay.

“It’s im­por­tant to be hav­ing th­ese con­ver­sa­tions all the time,” he said.

“We all have men­tal health and peo­ple don’t re­alise that. Just like phys­i­cal health you have to look af­ter it.

“So if you are strug­gling, you need to put your hand up and say you’re strug­gling. Peo­ple need to open up and th­ese shirts are a cat­a­lyst to have those con­ver­sa­tions.”

Five per cent of TradeMutt’s prof­its go to the This is a Con­ver­sa­tion Starter Foun­da­tion. “This is a Con­ver­sa­tion Starter Foun­da­tion is a not-for-profit that we set up our­selves,” Mr Allen said. “We want to use prof­its that we raise to hold com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and events to get peo­ple to­gether.

“We haven’t had any events so far. Our first event will be in Mt Isa next year.”

TradeMutt cur­rently has three funky work shirt de­signs avail­able.

“We worked with a graphic de­signer in Bris­bane. We started with polka dots and stripes,” Mr Allen said.

“We kept push­ing the en­ve­lope and even­tu­ally we came up with this cam­ou­flage de­sign with some funky colours, and that was the one.” If you or some­one you know needs help, call Life­line 13 11 14.

PHOTO: CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER

FUNKY FASH­ION: The TradeMutt duo, Ed Ross and Dan Allen, wear­ing the ‘FAF’ and the Mr Feel Good shirts.

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