Australia’s social impact workwear brand, TradeMutt turns five this month. The birthday marks a significant milestone for the business which has single-handedly changed the way tradies across Australia interact with each other about how they are feeling.
Five years ago, Ed Ross and Daniel Allen founded TradeMutt with their vision to help make a once invisible issue impossible to ignore; encouraging tradies to talk with each other about how they were feeling and to provide them with a dedicated free mental health counselling service so they have somewhere to go to continue the conversation.
Today, five years on, TradeMutt has helped fund $700,000 worth of free counselling through TIACS, which equates to over 4,000 tradies, truckies, rural and blue-collar workers gaining access to FREE mental health counselling. Demand for the service is continuing to grow year on year as industry employers, work sites and tradies become familiar with its unique services.
According to Ross, the concept of TradeMutt was created to focus on mental health through funky work shirts. The brand is a social impact workwear brand that consists of high impact colourful bold clothing designed to encourage tradies to talk to each other and show some vulnerability. The clothing is intended to start a conversation and in doing so, help tradies to open up and share how they are feeling.
50 per cent of TradeMutt’s profits are donated directly to TIACS, which stands for This Is A Conversation Starter. TIACS, which was founded by Ross and Allen some two and a half years after the launch of TradeMutt, is a free and confidential chat, text and callback service providing mental health counselling services for truckies, rural and blue-collar workers as well as those who care about them. TIACS is industry-funded and is also supported by businesses across the country from a broad range of industries.
“We founded TradeMutt and later TIACS when a dear friend took his life. We were so shocked and overwhelmed with sadness when it happened it made us realise that we needed to do something to stop the unnecessary loss of life,” Allen said.
“We had no idea that our friend was feeling this way. Work sites can be busy and noisy, and are not particularly conducive to having conversations so we thought if we could create clothing that encouraged tradies to open up, this might help them to talk about what is going on in their head.
“We started by creating Funky Shirt Fridays encouraging tradies to wear their TradeMutt clothing on Fridays, but soon realised everyone loved them so much they just wanted to wear them every day. This was an even better outcome as it helped tradies to feel comfortable having a conversation every day.
“Nationally, we really needed this as suicide among tradies is twice the national average for men.”
Since launching five years ago, TradeMutt has become one of the country’s leading workwear brands. It now produces a range of different clothing. Every shirt includes a QR code so that tradies can simply scan their own shirt to pull up the number for TIACS making it easy for them to call or text the support line when they need to talk with someone.
“Together TradeMutt and TIACS is helping to save lives across the country, and it isn’t just tradies we are helping, our services are being utilised by blue-collar workers and labourers across many industries. This year, from the months of January through to March, farmers made up close to seven per cent of all callers to TIACS,” Ross said.
“Men made up 71 per cent of all callers. TIACS experienced 160 per cent growth in demand for its services compared to the same time last year.
“Tradies are concerned about a broad range of issues but some of the key themes include the impact of building and construction company collapses and relationship issues.
“Tradies face unique issues and value being able to seek help from a support service that understands the challenges they are facing.
“Our priority is to continue to grow and support the increasing demand for TIACS’ services. It is hard to believe what we have achieved in five years and we are incredibly proud but also humbled by the extraordinary support we have received.
“Would be great to see everyone wearing TradeMutt clothing regardless of their industry as a show of support for Australia’s tradies and blue-collar workers. They really do the hard yards.”