'It's Socks Versus Drugs': Making a Profit While Making a Difference - RightsInfo

‘It’s Socks Versus Drugs’: Making a Profit While Making a Difference

Mubarak Mohamud, Mo, realised that being a drug dealer and a gang member was a losing game. “I got myself out of it,” Mo says. Now, he’s helping others to leave that life behind as well.

Mo runs an award-winning shop in Camden Market called Clime-It Brothers, which tries to put human rights focused values at the heart of their business. “I started this with £400 pounds and no support. And we keep growing,” he explains. In 2015, Clime it Brothers won best shop in the market.

The shop sells street clothing designed by Mo and other former gang members. He also uses the upstairs part of the shop to run workshops teaching young people how to get into business and helping them to get out of gang culture.

‘A Local Celebrity’

Image Credit: Eithne Dodd / RightsInfo

Growing up in Camden, Mo hated school: “I had a really horrible time. As a youngster, I was associated with all these anti-social behaviours… They made me believe that I was different to all the other kids at school. It started making me rebellious.”

Mo began selling drugs as a teenager. Making money so young was, for him, a way to glorify his lack of education. Compared to school, he felt appreciated and worthwhile as a gang member: “All those positive thoughts, ‘ah yeah, you’re killing it man.’”

When I walked out of my house everyone knew me. It was like being a local celebrity

Mubarak Mohamud, Clime-It Brothers

“So, there are people like me coming from similar backgrounds and needing that sincere appreciation and never getting it. Not that I ever deserved it in school but the first time I felt good about myself when these older drug dealers appreciated me. Obviously, they were using me, but I enjoyed it.”

Mo found being a drug dealer and a gang member very alluring: “When I walked out of my house everyone knew me. It was like being a local celebrity”. But he realised that his life wasn’t going where he wanted it to go. So he decided to change his life and help others do the same.

Changing Attitudes

Clime-it Brothers teaches people that they need to change their attitudes in order to change themselves. They offer training to young people who want to get out of gang culture – after all, education is one of the most fundamental parts of our human rights.

They do role-playing games where they are taught how to speak to customers and how to make sure their body language is not threatening.

“The perception is the way they speak, what they wear, the way they move their hands and their attitude. You can change these four things” Mo says. “Once you change these four things so will the perception of them.”

“It’s really difficult for someone coming from a drug background, council blocks things like that, to shake this” he adds.

A lot of it is about changing their attitudes Mo tells me. The trainees get work hours in the shop to build up experience as well as attending Mo’s workshops.

Socks Versus Drugs

Image Credit: Eithne Dodd / RightsInfo

Often the people that come to Mo think that they won’t be able to make good money if they stop selling drugs. So, one of the workshops Mo runs is called ‘Socks Versus Drugs’. “Basically,” says Mo, “It’s maths and economics”.

“It’s about teaching people that you can actually more money selling socks than selling drugs. It’s showing people that if you have £50 and you get this amount of drugs this is what you can make. With socks, you don’t have to carry a knife, and everyone wears them! The profit margins on socks are crazy!”

It’s about showing young people that there are millions of ways to make money.

Mubarak Mohamud, Clime-It Brothers

“So, you might have to pay taxes and this and that but that’s just going to give you good credit,” adds Mo. “It’s about showing young people that there are millions of ways to make money.”

Clime-it Bros also run a course on money management where they teach people how much money they need to survive on.

“One guy, we figured out, was only spending £90 pounds a week” says Mo. “Now obviously he was living at his Mum’s but still. I was like ‘Mate, £90? And look what you’re doing you’re putting yourself at risk, you’re carrying a knife, you’re going to get four years if you get caught with that.’”

“And then I show them a hundred different jobs where they can make more than £90 a week. It’s about enlightening them. It’s about showing people that this [drug] lifestyle is a lie.”

So, how does Mo win them over? “The biggest thing to win people over is when I say ‘and you can flash your money in front of police’. That is the deal breaker” Mo says.

Clime-It Bros Have Gone From Strength to Strength

Image Credit: Eithne Dodd / RightsInfo

Clime It Brothers has been in Camden Market for more than three years, starting as a pop-up shop before securing a lease.

Mo wants other businesses to be more socially minded and believes that putting human rights at the heart of their model can really help the community. He hopes that by having a successful business himself he can inspire others.

“I want other businesses to copy me. I want them to see how much money we make.  I want them to think we need to do something social to get up in this day and age.”

“We’re the youngest people here in his market and you know people like us shouldn’t be here, shops like this. We shouldn’t be winning the best shop in the market award” Mo says.

Featured Image: Eithne Dodd / RightsInfo

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About the Author

Eithne Dodd

Eithne is a masters student at City University where she is studying International Journalism. Previously, she achieved a Bachelors Degree in Economics and English at University College Dublin where she worked at the student paper, The University Observer. View all posts by Eithne Dodd.
‘It’s Socks Versus Drugs’: Making a Profit While Making a Difference
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