In the mid-1990s, The Salvation Army was helping women in Bangladesh to learn a trade. The Salvation Army guaranteed that they would be paid for the products that they made, and tried to resell the products through different networks.
It quickly became evident that the market for traditional products was not big enough. The result was that many of these products ended up in warehouses. Funding for the project ran out, and the ability to pay the women disappeared. This experience, however, was an important step towards the development of Sally Ann – later to become Others.
The Salvation Army`s leaders in Bangladesh at the time, officers Birgitte and Bo Brekke, would not give up the idea of sustainable development through production and sales. Their courage, unwavering faith and vision soon gave results. The first Sally Ann shop opened on 17 September 1997, in two small rooms in Dhaka.
At the onset of the new millennium, over three hundred people – including sex workers and other vulnerable persons with little or no hope of finding decent employment – were involved in the production of carpets, tablecloths, purses, cards, baskets and furniture. More and more people began dropping by the Sally Ann shop in Dhaka. But the market and the purchasing power was still very limited.
In 2002, Sally Ann established contact with The Salvation Army and Jan Aasmann Størksen in Norway. He saw the need and shared the vision, and set about adjusting the concept to the Western market, with the necessary strengthening of quality and modifications in design. Within a year Sally Ann opened its first store in Norway. The store was opened by the Norwegian Minister of Development and applauded as an innovative contribution to the international development sector.
Sally Ann products have since been sold in several countries, with permanent sales channels currently existing in Denmark and the United States, in addition to Norway and some of the producer countries, which currently include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya and Moldova.
Since 2013, new steps have been taken to optimize sales - with the one goal of maintaining and expanding the group of around 1600 people who today have an important source of income through our production. A name change has been undertaken - with the new name Others more explicitly pointing towards the reason for our existence. Individual sales countries are finding their own ways to develop sales channels that correspond to their cirumstances. The concept store in Norway was closed to allow for more cost-effective and higher-volume sales through wholesalers, corporate sales, online retailing and sales through The Salvation Army's own networks. In Denmark, Others is a regular supplier of merchandise for major Salvation Army events, and products are also sold online and through volunteer-based sales outlets. In the USA, sales through The Army's internal sales networks have now been supplemented with a webshop and an exciting new Home Party concept. Others has also supplied materials for major conferences and events in the UK and in other countries.
Others is always looking for new sales channels - which will allow us to create more work and employ more producers. The Global coordination of Others is overseen by The Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London, with an administration located in Norway. For contact information, see the "Contact" page in the top menu bar.