Shirts that are so loud and colourful that they start conversations.
That is the concept behind TradeMutt, founded in 2018 after the company's creators appeared on television when their bright shirts caught the attention of a local journalist at the pub.
Clearly fulfilling their purpose to encourage people to interact by incorporating bright colours and crazy patterns onto their work clothing, TradeMutt's support for the mental health cause is two-fold in that the company also donates 50 per cent of its profits to TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter) which is a free mental health counselling service for tradies, truckies, rural and blue collar workers across Australia.
TradeMutt's co-founders Ed Ross and Dan Allen first became friends after meeting on a Brisbane, Queensland, building site in 2014, but it was when one of Mr Allen's best mates tragically took his own life that the duo decided to make the invisible issue of mental health impossible to ignore.
In the years since, through the sale of their popular work shirts and various other clothing items, the company has provided more than 4450 blue collar workers access to qualified mental health professional care, equating to more than $770,000 in service market value.
Spruiking initiatives like 'Funky shirt Friday' to help promote their brand, Mr Ross says TradeMutt's current goal is to tap into at least 20 per cent of the blue collar workwear market.
Identifying people who live in Australia's more isolated areas as being particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, Mr Ross said farmers and farm workers had previously come to TradeMutt with ideas for products and based on their feedback, the company created a new product range called 'Undercover mutters'.
"We have had amazing support from some of the ag industry's largest brands in CPC, like AAMIG and Elders just to name a few," Mr Ross said.
Having grown up on stations in central west Queensland and worked as a stockhand for a number of years in the Northern Territory before moving to Queensland to start his mature age carpentry apprenticeship, Mr Ross said he was familiar with the sometimes "immense" stresses of people working in the agricultural industry.
Acknowledging that having conversations around mental health could be particularly useful for those people living rurally, he said it also formed part of the reason TIACS is a free text and call service, "so anyone anywhere in Australia with phone reception in regional and isolated areas can still benefit from the service".
"Aussies out in regional areas tend to form really strong communities with those around them so any tragedies can strike particularly hard but, on the flipside, support means even more to people who need it," Mr Ross said.
Looking forward, he said TradeMutt wants to continue making great prints for "funky, conversation-starting work shirts" while simultaneously aiming to build up Australia's largest blue collar community around them.
"We'd also love to grow overseas, but we have to be really careful how we expand so that we make sure our profit donation message is accurate all over the world and doesn't just benefit Australians," Mr Ross said.
There is a QR code under the left chest pocket so you can get in touch with TIACS directly or to find out more about what the company is up to.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can text or call TIACS between 8am and 10pm AEST, Monday to Friday.
Alternatively, 24 hour every day support is available through Lifeline by calling 13 11 14.
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