Catalyst to conversations
An invisible issue hard to ignore
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.
FUNKY FASHION: The TradeMutt duo, Ed Ross and Dan Allen, wearing the ‘FAF’ and the Mr Feel Good shirts.