Adverts can be a little irritating at times, but every once in a while one comes along that begs to be investigated. Last week, a feature on FlagMate popped up on my Facebook timeline. I was intrigued and contacted the man behind the idea, fellow Brit Bhavesh Patel, to find out a bit more about his company, Storyteller, and the concept of FlagMate.
Let’s face it, buying ourselves something that’s going to help someone else makes us feel good about our purchase. Storyteller offers the chance to do just that. Bhav told me that the company was founded around three main principles: to create high quality travel accessories, to inspire people to travel and to share some of its profits funding educational programmes in less privileged areas of the world.
At this early stage, Storyteller supports four charities – The Barefoot College (which currently operates in 93 countries), UNICEF Next Gen, London (worldwide), Global Citizen (worldwide) and The Hope Foundation (which is based in Kolkata, India). You see, education’s a top priority when it comes to giving those born into poverty a leg up. As a former teacher, I’m of course biased, but the more I travel, the more it’s obvious – adult illiteracy is still a huge constraint on progress in many parts of the world. Bhav agrees and told me about his experience in places like India and Peru:
“It was a repeat cycle – children could not obtain a quality education, and in time became illiterate adults. I wanted to make a change and so made a conscious decision to use Storyteller as a platform to help fund and run educational workshops in partnership with charities who shared my vision.”
Storyteller itself is not a charity, but one of a number of new start ups who are proving that getting a balance between profit and philanthropy can be beneficial to all those involved. It raises capital for causes it considers worthy by selling products aimed at the buoyant traveller market. FlagMate, part of Storyteller’s initial range, appeals to those keen on collectibles.
Years ago, when I first got the travel bug, I painstakingly sewed fabric patches onto my rucksack as a reminder of each of the countries I’d been to. Many, many pricked and sore fingers later, I had a bag covered in flags. People would stop and chat about the places they represented and my experiences there. It was a good icebreaker and often led to further conversation – and those meaningful interactions with people we meet on the road are, of course, why many of us travel.
FlagMate goes one better: faux leather, hand-painted flags which can be personalised and then attached to a keyring or clip for your bag. It’s a great souvenir of your last trip, but also, it’s a good talking point on your next one. Think of the flags, and the words you choose to engrave them with, as prompts for you to tell a story to someone you meet as you explore the world.
Right now, Storyteller is coming to the end of its Crowdfunding campaign, but there’s still time to support the cause if you so wish. You can find out more on their website:
Alternatively, why not visit their IndieGoGo page to find out how your purchase can help get this start-up off the ground. Find it here:
While I have no financial interest in Storyteller as a company, I am looking forward to receiving a FlagMate sample later this year in exchange for writing about the product. Keep an eye on this blog to find out what I think of it, which countries I’ll choose to wear on my keyring and why they make the cut.