Oxford-based sustainable underwear brand, Y.O.U Underwear, has been selected as the winner of the Simply Business £25,000 Business Boost Initiative, designed to provide support for small businesses during the cost of living crisis.
There were 21,451 applications for the 2022 Business Boost grant, with the winner receiving a £25,000 prize. Small business insurance provider, Simply Business, designed the competition to support businesses in the face of significant economic challenges – including rapidly rising inflation, the cost of living crisis and supply chain issues.
Recent research published by Simply Business as part of its SME Insights Report found that 70% of SME owners say that rising costs across the board are their biggest challenge this year. Half (49%) said that they are set to increase their prices in an attempt to offset increased expenditure.
Y.O.U Underwear is a sustainable underwear business offering ethically made cotton underwear for men, women and girls but puts sustainability at the core of its small business. The products are made from Fairtrade and GOTS-certified organic cotton and are packaged in reusable organic cotton bags.
For every pair of pants sold, the company donates underwear to Smalls for All, a Scottish charity that collects and distributes underwear to vulnerable women and children in Africa and the UK. They’ve also implemented a circular fashion scheme to recycle underwear, tights, and socks.
The team of three has achieved B Corp status for their small business and was recognised by B Corporation as one of the ‘Best for the World’ in 2022.
Sarah Jordan, Founder and CEO of Y.O.U Underwear, is looking to use the grant to start a fibre-to-fibre recycling programme that looks to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, all whilst growing and building on the current business initiatives.
Sarah said: “I really can’t overstate what an impact winning the Business Boost competition is going to have for us.
“Not only will it enable us to implement our long-held dream of a fully circular fibre-to-fibre recycling programme, helping to keep tonnes of underwear and clothing out of landfill, but it will be a huge boost to every element of our business.
“It will enable us to grow, reach more people, have an even greater impact… and really allow me to focus on the business – so that we can make the big difference I know we are capable of.
“Sometimes you have all the ingredients in place, but you just need something extra to bring it all together and propel you forwards. Business Boost is exactly that – it’s going to make a huge difference to our business and the impact that we have in the world.
“I really couldn’t be more grateful and would 100% encourage everyone to apply next year. The clue really is in the name, and I can’t wait to share everything that we’ve been able to achieve as a result. Thank you, Simply Business!”
The winner was carefully selected by an expert panel which included The Apprentice winner Harpreet Kaur, who was Lord Sugar’s business partner and founder of Oh So Yum, a dessert parlour with locations in Huddersfield and Leeds, as well as an online service that delivers nationwide.
Other members of the panel included Tony Robinson OBE (author and Micro Business Champion and Chair of Yorkshire in Business), Merlie Calvert (founder and CEO at Farillio), and Mo Kanjilal and Allegra Chapman (the winners of Business Boost 2021 and owner of Watch this Sp_ce). Alan Thomas (UK CEO of Simply Business) completed the panel.
Alan Thomas commented: “It’s never been more important to support small businesses, and we’re delighted to have found such a worthy recipient of our £25,000 cash grant.
“With almost 22,000 entries, we were moved and inspired by the stories we received from all across Britain – stories that show resilience, innovation, and a pioneering spirit run throughout the self-employed community.
“Y.O.U Underwear’s commitment to sustainability resonated with our own values at Simply Business, and we’re excited to see the continued positive impact the business will be able to have with the help of a cash injection.
“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy – and we know that behind each of these businesses are passionate individuals with a big dream.
“That’s certainly true of Sarah, and we’re proud to be able to support their big dream of continuing Y.O.U Underwears’ exciting journey.”
Small businesses can sign up to be the first to hear about next year’s Business Boost by visiting the Simply Business website.