It is impossible not to notice the enthusiasm that sparks in the eyes of Zendoo’s two founders: Maria Marqard Radoor and Sanne Ravn Lorenzen. The small design business is the first joint project for the two Danish women, and the two owners met in 2014, when they were both involved in the Danish Red Cross Youth.
To help a child, help its mother
Back then, their work was focused on helping marginalised children, and it became very clear to them that the best way to help children is to help their mothers. In fact, giving women a second chance at life was the starting point for the business.
“The ultimate satisfaction for us is to provide meaningful jobs for people who have lost faith in themselves. Making a difference in their lives while producing high quality design products is what makes me get up in the morning and work long hours with a smile on my face,” says Maria Marqard Radoor.
Zendoo is a socioeconomic design company that first and foremost is in the business of selling high quality design jewellery, bags and interior products. In many ways, they look like any other entrepreneurial company – however, they are set apart by the fact that everything they do has a responsible perspective.
"The people who work for us come with a special profile and background that makes it difficult for them to fit into the job market that most of us knows. They typically come here with a mental health disorder or a psychiatric disability that makes it completely impossible for them to tend to a regular 8-16 job on normal terms. What we at Zendoo offer them is a creative space and the necessary guidance to prepare them for a future in a regular job. We do that by offering them a holistic programme that aims for professional as well as personal progression,” explains Sanne Ravn Lorenzen.
ECCO is one of the world’s leading shoe brands, combining style and comfort. ECCO’s success is built on products with a great fit and top-quality leathers.
ECCO is a highly responsible company that owns and manages every aspect of the value chain from leather and shoe manufacturing to wholesale and retail activities.
ECCO’s products are sold in 99 countries from over 2,250 ECCO shops and more than 14,000 sales points. ECCO is family-owned, founded in Denmark in 1963, and employs 21,300 people worldwide.
Everyone has a skill
During their three years in business, Zendoo has experienced steady growth, and today approximately 9 people work for the design business. None of the employees work even close to full time, but even though the company has a production line to keep up, the two entrepreneurs find a way to make room for the newcomers on their terms. Zendoo offers a wide range of job types. Many of the employees sew leather and textile products, while others are occupied in the company’s kitchen to prepare lunch for their colleagues. The startup business even has its own job consultants who bridge Zendoo with regular companies and pave the way for permanent jobs to employees who are ready to be part of a regular company. And eventually, this happens to the vast majority of Zendoo’s employees.
”It is part of our philosophy that everyone has something to offer. Everyone has a skill, a competency that we as a society need. The strength of Zendoo’s business model is to offer the employee exactly what he needs to regain a foothold in society. We are continuously in a dialogue with the individual employee and his/her social worker so that together we can identify what it takes to make the employee thrive in a regular job,” explains Maria Marqard Radoor.
Zendoo is for everyone
It is a diverse group that fills the company’s production room in Kolding. Many young people feel the increasing pressure from society to perform, and some of them fall under the pressure and end up as a number in the statistics. But emotional pain can strike anyone at any given time, and the Danish design company opens the doors to all kinds of people.
“Our employees come from all layers of society and at all ages. One of our latest initiatives is the Restart Project which is a reactivation project for people in early retirement. They come here on terms tailored to their needs, and we involve them in a work situation that allow them to grow. 10 of the 12 people in the most recent group are already on their way to new jobs outside of Zendoo,” says Sanne Ravn Lorenzen.
Zendoo is privately owned and runs on revenues from their production combined with public funds. Zendoo’s products are handmade from e.g. surplus leather from ECCO’s production. You can find Zendoo’s products in selected stores and on www.zendoo.dk.