Meet the clothing brand set up by Bristol grads putting a spotlight on mental health
Young Goat want to ‘inspire and encourage as well as support and empower’
It is no lie that this year has been beyond tough on our mental health, with many of us cooped up inside, working from our bedrooms and now, as we hit Christmas break, students especially are feeling demotivated and tired after such a turbulent first term.
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, six Bristol Uni grads continued to build their clothing brand “Young Goat”, founded on the drive to promote self-esteem and confidence through fashion and support local mental health charities in the process.
The Bristol Tab spoke to Vincent Onuegbu, who studied French and Portuguese at Bristol Uni and is one of the founders of Young Goat, who told us the team has raised over £2000 for their selected mental health charities since their website launch in September and explained why their ethos of empowerment is so important.
Vincent told us about their mission to repurpose the common acronym “GOAT”, usually reserved for big celebrities or sports teams as it means “Greatest of All Time”. He said: “We used the term “GOAT” quite regularly during university and still do today. We believe that it can promote self-esteem and confidence in anyone.”
“We were messing around one day and after seeing the logo on a mock-up hoodie that we made, we were confident that it was definitely something we could see other people wearing and identifying with.”
“We are able to raise awareness of mental health and spread positivity”
Young Goat supports three mental health charities, two of which are local to Bristol. These are Second Step, Off the Record and Black Minds Matter UK. Vincent told us why it was important to support these charities as part of their brand: “A lot of the great things that mental health charities are doing worldwide are in line with how we want people to feel when they wear Young Goat.
“By highlighting our partners and other causes, we are able to raise awareness of mental health and spread positivity as well as demonstrate some of the amazing services and aid available for many in need – so shedding light through these collaborations is at the foundation of what we do.”
He also added that the team “wanted to start as local as possible” when it came to choosing charities, as Young Goat was founded in Bristol. He said: “The six of us had all experienced the consequences of poor mental health directly and indirectly while studying at Bristol, so we really wanted to spotlight the great work of these charities.”
Young Goat made Black Minds Matter a partner charity for their brand after the events of summer 2020, and the wider Black Lives Matter movement. Vincent said himself and Al, another founder, represent “part of the Black community within the Young Goat team and the charity stood out as one really making a visible difference to the futures of Black individuals.
“All three partners do incredible work and we are proud to be in a position to help them shine.”
“Over £300 in donations alongside the purchase of Young Goat items has been raised in the last three months”
Through their brand, the grads have also managed to raise £2500 for charities since launching their website, including £1082 for Prostate Cancer UK by taking part in Movember. Vincent said: “Customers can donate to our partners through our website; over £300 in donations alongside the purchase of Young Goat items has been raised in the last three months.”
Vincent says there is much more to come in terms of charity initiatives, including adding new charities to work with going forward. He said: “We see these relationships as symbiotic. A combined clothing range is next up on the agenda, this will be a cool area for us to explore.”
Despite the brands international success, they say that staying local is one of their top priorities: “Young Goat started in Bristol and we want to give back by highlighting some of the amazing things that the city has to offer”. Vincent said they have done this by working with Bristol based photographers and models, as well as their charities and the Bristol SU.
He also added: “That said, we are having similar conversations with London-based companies and expanding our reach and relationships outside of the UK too.”
“We want to give back to Bristol”
Young Goat began trading in December 2019, but since then our day-to-day lives have changed dramatically. We asked what has been the most challenging element of setting up and solidifying their business as graduates.
“The immediate limitations were always going to be experience, expertise and purchase power… coronavirus didn’t help much either. Those disadvantages gave our brand authenticity. We all graduated between 2018 and 2020, some of us work full-time or have done since graduation but do not now. Self-funding from the outset dictated that we had to move more slowly than we believed was possible.
“We have learnt a lot since then. We’re speaking to the right people and laying out the right foundations; there is plenty to look forward to with Young Goat in 2021 – from new colours, new items and new designs to some exciting collaborations, features and competitions.”
Vincent told us that they really hope students buy into their ethos “anyone can be the GOAT”, and that in doing so they can “inspire and encourage as well as support and empower”.