$1m for mental health, one shoe at a time: Deuce's fight against youth suicide

Published March 2, 2018, 8:56 a.m.

Kiwi footwear company Deuce has raised more than $1 million for mental health and awareness, through its charity Young Hearts Project.

For every pair of the company's sneakers sold, $5 goes to the charity.

Owner and director Shane Anselmi, who also runs Merchant shoes and Mi Piaci, said the idea to set up the Project came about in 2013 following news coverage of the country's mental illness statistics.

"There are always stories about people you know or know of and I guess the big thing for me was just frustration at the incredibly high rate of youth suicide we have in New Zealand," Anselmi said.

"So I wanted to do something."

Having been a long-time fan of Blake Mycoskie who founded Toms shoes, which operates a one for one gifting policy for children in need, Anselmi decided to launch something of his own.

"Every time Toms sells a pair of shoes, they give one away to a child in need somewhere in the world.

"We have this sneaker brand we've created ourselves and so I thought okay every time we sell a pair of those we'll put aside some money to go into a fund to try and do something about this problem, and that's what we did, so a few months later we launched the Young Hearts programme and we've just been raising money ever since."

Since the Project's launch in 2014, more than 200,000 Deuce sneakers have been sold.

More than $1 million has been raised from this with the funds being split into three charities - Youthline, the Graeme Dingle Foundation and Great Potentials.

"We've been doing this for four years and we will continue to do it," he said.

"The ambition with the young hearts programme is to raise as much money as we can and our staff have been great at getting in behind this."

Read the article on NZ Herald here