Leiho with Joey Li
1. Hi Joey! Could you tell me what Leiho is, and how you chose it’s name?
Leiho means ‘how are you’ in Cantonese and sometimes that’s all we need to ask someone to show that we care. The name really resonated with what we wanted to achieve as a brand – we wanted people to care more about themselves, about the people in their lives and for people in need.
2.Leiho is a relatively new venture – but its not your first. Please could you tell me about Made by Joey, and how that informed your decision to start Leiho.
I started Made by Joey because I wanted to create something that would make women feel more confident about themselves and to just wear their names on their necks with pride. Part of me also wanted to help women feel more worthy and less critical of themselves. I set Made by Joey up as a ‘pay it forward’ business where every customer had to write a note to the next customer so that each order would essentially come with a meaningful message from a stranger. Those messages till this day still inspire me. I handmade over 250 personalised necklaces which was very fun but I didn’t have time to keep running it anymore! Made by Joey was also just a side project but I knew it wasn’t something that I could continue. When I met my business partner I was still working on Made by Joey but I was looking to start my next venture with a similar concept of helping people do good in a convenient/ simple way. We are both very passionate about helping people. I believe that we have so much room for businesses to do good whether it’s by helping people in need or being environmentally conscious so why not set up a business that proves you can be both socially impactful and commercially viable.
2. Your socks feature a design of a peaceful face, which I think suits the Leiho message nicely. Are you the designer? How did you settle on the final design?
Yes I designed the socks, and believe it or not they were designed on Pages! When we first started I had no idea how to use photoshop. I was creating different logos, designs and mock ups on my laptop everyday and sending them to our suppliers, friends and the people in our office to see if they would wear it. If you look at our designs, all 3 pairs have different personalities and are quite different which was what we wanted. We wanted 3 designs that 3 different types of do-gooders could wear! And of course our values are all about caring and kindness so the smiley face to match those values are pretty self explanatory.
3. You are one half of Leiho, the other half is Thuta Khin. How did the two of you meet, and how do you work together to accomplish your goals?
We both studied our masters at CASS business school and we started going to the same City Ventures start up events – I recognised her from our lectures and approached her. She told me she was thinking of starting her own business and I was coincidently looking for a partner in crime to start my next venture with so I asked if she wanted to work with me and the rest is history! In terms of how we work together, we are very different people but in a good way – I handle more of the strategy, creative direction, partnerships and operations whilst she handles the finances, research, delivery for social impact (because she’s got such a kind heart) and operations. There are definitely two big things that we have in common which probably helps keep our business going and that’s our business attitude and the space in our hearts for helping people.
4. We like to give our interviewees the chance to shine a light on something they think deserves more attention. What would you like to choose as your Hidden Gem?
This is such a hard question there are so many hidden gems out there that deserve so much more attention but there is one organisation that we do feel deserves a lot of love: Highway House homeless shelter! Our first ever homeless shelter partner, we have built such a good relationship with their project manager Abi and we have so much respect for Pastor Alex. Their story of how they started is so genuine and humble and it’s just a perfect example of how we should respond to the fear of the unknown as a society. Their story is pretty long and impossible to shorten down because there is so much to it that I would hate to have to cut out any details so here is a perfect summary of the story: https://newrootscafe.com/highway-house – their goal is to get enough funding to open up a women’s shelter and if there is one place we hope to shine a light it’s to Highway House because they truly deserve to be recognised for their good hearts and open their next shelter
5. The foundation of your company is to make a positive impact and help provide clothing supplies to homeless people. Which of Leiho’s charitable achievements are you most proud of? What do you hope to achieve next?
We are proud of a lot of achievements, firstly being able to deliver and fulfil sock requests from our homeless shelter partners whenever they need. To be able to support smaller local projects such as the Sutton Night Watch shoebox project and The People Project. During early lockdown days we hosted a giveaway for frontline heroes and key workers as a big thank you for their hard work. We are also currently in the middle of a campaign where for every pair of socks sold, we will help distribute 4 meals to someone in need through Slough Outreach. We always try and help with more than just a pair of socks and what we hope to achieve next is to take our business to the next level and prove that it is genuinely possible for businesses to do good. We’ve had a lot of votes for underwear next so we shall see!
6. Thanks a lot for talking to me Joey. Let us know how we can follow what you do and where we can buy your socks.
Thanks for reaching out and thank you for having me! Our socks are on our website www.leiho.co.uk but if you want to keep up to date with our socials and our impact:
Instagram & Twitter: @leiho_uk
Interview by Alex Wilson – 26/05/20