Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were younger? An astronaut or a musician? A doctor or an artist? A chef or an explorer? Do you remember the confidence with which you dreamed all the infinite possibilities of who you could become, and the countless times that vision shifted and grew?
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Can you recall the love, support, and sacrifice (or lack thereof) it took from those responsible for you, to become who you are today? Whether it was the community found in a local youth club, words of encouragement from your favourite teacher, or the unspoken sacrifices made by a family member? Also, how important it was to fit in and look the best? The confidence that came with fresh hair; the clout that came with the newest trainers; and the self-respect that came with a fresh uniform?
I often reflect on the person I am today and all the ingredients it took for me to get here. Before we’re even aware of it, our purpose and future are being shaped by a whole range of inter-influential factors, both innate and external. It’s no surprise that Dami,who right from secondary school was everybody’s fave princess, has taken up reign as our social media Queen and influencer babe. Or Remi, who owned the school corridors with such lively command, is now known across radio stations as our local energy provider. The key to our futures lies in our foundations and how well nurtured our roots are.
Just before Christmas, we met with the team at Pickni Uniforms to talk about the work they’re doing to help support children and families across London with their ‘Free School Uniforms’ initiative. As living costs continue to rise across London and the economy continues its post-covid attempt at recovery, working families and those with dependents have been hit the hardest. That’s why the work of Pickni Uniforms, Marcus Rashford and other social initiatives are needed now more than ever.
We had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of Pickni Uniform’s very first beneficiaries to ask them about what they wanted to be when they were older, and why. It was around 12 o’clock in the afternoon when Paxton Academy’s finest pulled up to the office in a little white minibusk. One by one, an excited and chatty group of approximately 8 smartly dressed primary school children made their way into our offices. Not far off a usual day at the office, we spent the morning discussing, writing, drawing, and dreaming about what we wanted to be in the future. They shared dreams of flying to the moon as astronauts, becoming artists, and leading the next generation after them as teachers.
The group, accompanied by their Headteacher Ms. Theresa Moses, ranged from the ages of 4-11, and were brought together by one unifying factor – each of them had been gifted with free blazers, thanks to Jord’s ‘Pickni Uniforms’ campaign. Launched in August 2021, Co-founders Jords and Jamahl partnered with Universal Music Taskforce to launch their Free School Uniform campaign to help support families across London.
We caught up with Jords to find out more about his inspiration behind Pickni Uniforms and what he wanted to be when he was younger.
What inspired you to launch Pickni Uniforms and why was it important for you to do so?
We were shocked by the prices of uniforms, and also the news that parents were queuing for up to 5 hours to buy a blazer. After seeing what Marcus Rashford managed to accomplish with the free school meals campaign, we were compelled to do our bit to help out.
What has been the most heart-warming moment since launching the initiative?
For myself, seeing the children’s faces at Paxton when they walked in and put on their blazers for the first time was a bit of a surreal moment. When you’re so consumed with doing the legwork to bring the blazers to the children, it’s easy to forget the purpose. So seeing the end result, and the pride of the children and their teachers, it just reminds you about the purpose and keeps you focused and motivated to do more.
What was life like for you as a young child growing up?
Life was life. I don’t think you realise that your life came with much struggle until a certain age. My parents gave me everything I needed, but growing older I realised how much they had to sacrifice in order to do that.
For this campaign, we asked the children what they want to be when they grow up. What did you want to be when you were their age?
Hmmmm.. I remember wanting to be an entrepreneur, even though I had no idea what that meant. I just saw Jay Z and 50 Cent talk about it and thought it must be a cool thing to do. Everyone had dreams of being a footballer, and my grandma used to say I should be a lawyer because I’m so cantankerous.
We’re seeing a slow but steady rise of musicians giving back to their community, what advice would you give to other musicians who are also aspiring to create meaningful change?
I’d say, make sure you do it for the right reason. I think a lot of these good deeds become less about the recipient and more about the person giving back. So remember the mission, remember the purpose, and give from the right place.
Locally led campaigns like Jords’ are as important as the old-school Saturday/Sunday clubs that many of us were reared and raised by. As one of the last generations that truly know the meaning of it taking a village to raise a child, (I’m speaking to us 80’s/90’s babies here), it’s only right our generation continues to feed into that legacy for those yet to come.