Three Melbourne friends have raised more than $20,000 to create a CBD pop-up shop called HoMie, stocking high-quality first-hand clothes while distributing the profits to local homeless services.
The store will sell T-shirts with the HoMie logo alongside other clothing by Melbourne designers.
The shop will be open to the public during business hours, staffed by volunteers, and will welcome referred homeless people after 5pm.
Marcus Crook, Nick Pearce and Robbie Gillies began fundraising for the project after earlier success with a Facebook page, Homeless of Melbourne, which shares the personal stories of homeless Melburnians.
More than a year ago Mr Pearce and Mr Crook began approaching homeless people to document their stories, share them with the public and create a personal connection.
Mr Crook had been working in the city and, noticing the increasing homeless population, was curious about what was going on.
“After a few conversations (with homeless people) I thought these stories definitely needed to be heard,” he said.
“It wasn’t just the stigma of being on drugs or alcohol that led them to being on the streets.
“Once you break the ice and sit down they’re just people and they enjoy conversing.
“(It) turned out to be this amazing story and we decided to put it on Facebook because we thought we could get greater reach,” Mr Pearce said.
The Homeless of Melbourne Facebook page has amassed more than 16,000 followers from Melbourne and overseas.
Mr Gillies joined Homeless of Melbourne Inc soon after.
“I remember my first interview (but) really wasn’t emotionally prepared for what we experienced,” he said.
“People just unload, it’s a really charged, heated conversation sometimes.”
The three men began fundraising for the pop-up store using crowdfunding website Pozible with a $10,000 goal.
By their May 1 deadline they had reached $12,227 from 268 supporters.
Other donors have come on board to help them reach more than $20,000, including one anonymous contribution of $2,500.
Thanks to volunteer staff and minimal fit-out, the three expect to keep overhead costs low.
The trio are searching for a CBD location that is affordable enough to make the most of the donated funds.
After inspecting a rundown shopfront in Richmond, they were told three months would cost approximately $16,000.
Their next strategy is to go door-to-door in the Melbourne CBD speaking to owners who might be able to offer some shop frontage.