A Child’s Drawing, a School in Indonesia, and a T-Shirt [Q&A]

Jos van der Hoek is the co-founder of Face This – a t-shirt company with some rather unusual designs.

Nov 19, 2015
Jos van der Hoek is the co-founder of Face This

Jos van der Hoek is the co-founder of Face This 

When Jos van der Hoek went back to visit schools in his native Indonesia to see how he could help, he noticed something extraordinary. It was the students’ creative spirit, enthusiasm and positivity which stood out to him - not the decrepit schools, nor the impoverished populace, or the poor infrastructure. When he looked at the students, all he saw was hope and joy. In an effort to capitalize on the good, van der Hoek returned to the Netherlands with a novel idea: to transform the drawings the students made during art class into t-shirts and use the proceeds to improve the schools. And so began Face This. With the help of designers and artists who voluntarily convert drawings into t-shirt designs, Face This sells one-of-a-kind t-shirts – and all for a good cause.

In this week’s 10 Good Questions, we speak with Face This co-founder Jos van der Hoek, as he explains what he’s been learned from Indonesian kids.

1. What is your organization’s mission?

We design exclusive tees using Indonesian kids’ drawings. The proceeds go to supporting the schools of the kids - whether by building new classrooms, buying new supplies, or renovating buildings.

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

When my girlfriend and I visited our first school in Indonesia, we saw a lot of the poverty you’d expect when visiting a poor school in a developing country. But at the same time, we saw the kids’ eagerness to learn, their togetherness, and their positive way of life.

Back in the Netherlands, in order to raise funds for a project in a developing country, we were advised to focus on the poverty and the defects of the school. “The more you communicate the flaws, the more money you will raise,” was the general sentiment. But we felt that just didn’t speak to the positive vibe the Indonesian kids gave off. That’s why we decided to raise funds in a less conventional way – we made the kids’ creativity the center of our fundraising project. This is still and always will be at the core of how we operate.

3. What three words describe your organization?

Fun, fair, fashion.

Indonesia child draws t-shirt design for Face This

Face This collaborates with four schools in Indonesia, setting goals of how many t-shirts to sell to meet the schools' needs

4. What inspires you?

The little things in life, which sometimes, surprisingly, actually turn out to be life-changing. That’s what we strive for at Face This: to turn a little thing, like a kids’ drawing, into a life-changing vehicle. By designing a T-shirt, what started as a little drawing can change the lives of these kids.

5. Who's your favorite good doer figure?

Indonesian kids are my favorite good doers. In the Western world, we sometimes think we know best. But really, we can learn so much from others – even kids in a developing country like Indonesia.

These kids can teach us about art, but also about togetherness. Indonesia is a melting pot of different religions and cultures that live peacefully together. They even have a saying for this phenomenon: ‘gotong royong’ - which means ‘working together’. This is what inspires us at Face This (so much so that we even made a short film about it!)

6. What is the best part about your job?

The ability to use creative fashion items to change the lives of children in Indonesia is something that energizes me each and every day.

7. How do you measure success within your organization?

When we are able to fully fund a school’s needs and we are able to build a safe and educational environment, our T-shirt collection is successful.

8. Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook! Like our page here: www.facebook.com/FaceThisTshirts

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization?

We want your kind readers to know that although we are a small foundation, we have help from many well-known, incredible artists from around the world. Kate Gibb, for example, was the designer of one of our t-shirts (she has also worked in the past with clients like Stüssy and Adidas).

a Kate Gibb Face This t-shirt design

Kate Gibb is only one of the many artists and designers who volunteer their time and skills to Face This 

10. How can people get involved?

If you’d like to see what else we do at Face This, you should sign up for our newsletter or like us on Facebook. You can also show your support by buying a Face This tee (for yourself or as a gift!)