Roseannah founder Rachel Salway
When Rachel Salway witnessed suffering in developing countries, she knew she had to help
You’ve probably never noticed Roseannah. The clothing and accessories shop is tucked away in the corner of Orchard Square, just above Starbucks. But from her little Sheffield shop, owner Rachel Salway is making a big impact across the world. Vibe caught up with her to find out what Roseannah is all about.
Hi Rachel, can you explain how Roseannah first started?
In 2007 I went on trips to India and Africa and was traumatised by what I saw. When you see it on TV you become desensitised to it but when you’re there the smell is something else. There are kids running around in rags on litter, it’s heart breaking. They were dying of sickness and diarrhoea, they’re so helpless, you just don’t get that over here.
I knew there was something I needed to do. I come from a business management background so wanted to focus on giving people trade, not aid. I began to work with organisations that empowered workers, farmers and victims of human trafficking.
What does Roseannah sell?
Roseannah is a social impact company, driven by style. We sell clothing, accessories such as hand woven scarves and jewellery; each product has its own story.
At first it was quite hard to get trendy stuff, because of the difference in style between the UK and the countries we were working in. I’ve always wanted our products to be on trend and fashionable.
We also sell Stop the Traffick bracelets – which are charm bracelets similar to Pandora. Each charity that helps the victims of trafficking has its own colour charm, and £5 from each sale is donated to that particular charity.
Is there anything else you do at Roseannah?
As well as being a fashion shop, we also host style parties, where you get the whole shop to yourself. Our experts complete a short colour analysis to determine whether you suit warm or cool colours and then you have the freedom to shop at your leisure. Our hair and make-up stylists are also on hand to complete your makeover.
Is it only people in developing countries that you support?
No, not at all. Before the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal came out I had not really thought about this happening on my door step, but then I knew I needed to do something. There was no reason why I couldn’t help local people too.
In the UK, we help by providing people with education, training, jobs and work experience. What we have been working on the most is mentoring for asylum seekers, you watch people go from being scared and timid to really coming out of their shell and gaining confidence.
One lady was so nervous she would flinch when you spoke to her, now she’s undergone a complete transformation, she wants to be a jewellery designer. It’s amazing to see that because a lot of the time we do not see the impact we have face-to-face, because so many of the people we work with are based on the other side of the world.
Roseannah is open 10am – 6pm every day but Thursday, when it is open until 7pm as part of the Alive After Five campaign.