The Virgin StartUp team regularly support businesses that embody Virgin Unite’s business ethos of championing people, planet and profit – having launched in 2013, they’ve had a lot of time to hone their craft.

With a purpose to support and grow entrepreneurs – both financially and through mentoring – Virgin StartUp has seen a huge number of business ideas flourish into successful and sustainable businesses – it’s something we’re extremely proud of.

This week we’re sharing the story of the Secret Projects – the UK based company that create gorgeous dresses and pillows (that unfold into beautiful blankets). Woven into these dresses and pillows is a story of empowerment and of hope. Secret Projects is the home of Secret Pillow Project and Secret Sari Dress Project – all products sold through these projects are foldable, useful, purposeful and charming, and each sale unfolds a woman's power in India.

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

The Secret Pillow Project was set up three years ago as a social business to empower women. Today, thanks to the project, sewing workshops are run for groups of disadvantaged women to help them earn a fairer than fair trade price for their pillows. Women can then send their children to school, have further business prospects, and create real hope for their futures.

The project is the dream of Fritha Vincent, a former charity worker and foster mum, who always believed she could make a difference. Fritha started out making secret pillows for friends as wedding and housewarming gifts. One of those friends suggested she start a business and not long after Fritha was networking with organisations in India, linked to women's groups with basic sewing skills.

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Fritha first get involved with Virgin Start Up after being introduced to them by Crowdfunder.co.uk. She ran her crowdfunding campaigns on their site and raised £32,500 worth of Secret Pillows sales. Crowdfunder then introduced Fritha to Virgin Start Up, when they learnt she was looking for additional cash flow.

Today Secret Projects has more than 200 producers – six of which are trainers. The company has more than 1,000 global customers connected through Secret Projects and a recent Crowdfunding campaign launching the project in the US has been a success – meaning more women can be trained and become part of the business.

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Secret Projects is more than just a lovely idea – it’s a solution to a genuine need. The money women receive for pillows and dresses is life changing, and the start-up costs for makers minimal. "80 per cent of the world’s children living in institutions are not there because they don’t have any parents, they are there because their parents cannot afford to feed, clothe and educate. Secret Projects exists to help reduce this statistic and empower women everywhere", said Fritha.

Fritha’s use of business as a tool for good exemplifies how embedding purpose into an organisation can enrich the lives of everyone involved – from those who run the business, to those who work for it, to those who use the goods and services. 

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Virgin Unite, Virgin StartUp, Secret Pillow Project

Fritha’s lesson to entrepreneurs who are starting out is to build a purposeful mantra, believe in it and stick to it. “Secret Projects has a shared mantra called the POWER Mantra. I would suggest an entrepreneur to scribble down our mantra and stick it on the mirror and repeat it every time they brush their teeth. We believe in ourselves, we support one another, we persist, we think, we trust in our instinct, we take pride in everything we do, we work with joy and we pretend until we can. (I am sure everyone at Virgin Group will recognise the last one, we are borrowing it from Richard Branson!)," said Fritha.

To find out more about Secret Projects visit their website and follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


If you’re an entrepreneur with a business plan that needs some financial backing, make sure you have a chat with Virgin Start Up – we could be featuring you next!

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