Growing up, Andrew Lorimer-Derham was the skinny, intelligent kid who went to church and believed in God. He hid his faith – it wasn’t cool and didn’t help him ‘fit in’. After years of faking it, he came to the realisation that being genuine was what mattered. As an adult he draws on that experience daily, and as a result, it’s the perceptions of young people that he is most keen to challenge.
Andrew now lives in Alexandra in North East Victoria and has set up ontheflipside – an organisation dedicated to flipping people’s perspectives. To help achieve this goal he has also starting an ethical clothing line – Mirrogram® clothing. At 28, he is a dynamic force to be reckoned with. His mission in life is to challenge people, young people in particular, to see things differently. His raison d’etre is to make people think, challenge the norm, be curious, ask questions and creatively challenge the ways in which the world is upside down.
At first he thought he would do this by teaching so, after studying at universities in Australia and America, he returned home and taught Maths and PE for two years in Traralgon, and another two at Alexandra Secondary College. He wasn’t your average teacher. His first school initially didn’t want to hire him. Was it his dreadlocks? Or the yellow crocs he always wears? Both are intrinsically part of him and his ‘trademark’, so much so, he wore the crocs at his wedding!
He’s not an anarchist, he’s not trying to offend, he is just living his life according to his values. His Maths students will remember him, the way each of us remember a brilliant teacher, one who made learning come alive for us. Those lucky enough to be a part of his many ‘challenges’ will undoubtedly be retelling the tale for years to come.
And he keeps taking on more and more personal challenges – showing he’s not afraid to walk the talk. What started out as an innocent wager in the pub one night ended with Andrew committing to ‘ride 1000km in a month’. Read his blog entry here to find out what happened.
Taking “the road less travelled” is something he always urged his students to do and a year ago he took that road himself. He gave up a secure and fulfilling teaching job to pursue the creative ideas that were keeping him awake until 3am. The first of these has been to set up a funky clothing line, Mirrogram®. He describes it as – the world’s first ‘reflective’ clothing line – and when we say reflective, we aren’t talking fluorescent. When you hold his t-shirt/cap/hoodie next to the mirror, each design changes to read something different, e.g. ‘Not just Numbers’ turns into ‘People’.
This all started with an addiction to ambigrams and then it struck him – to take it one step further – have the word read one way and then ‘say and mean’ the opposite in reverse.
Defeat Evil spells With Love in reverse.
Legend becomes Loser.
Cool becomes Dork.
Stereotypes becomes Don’t Judge Me.
To blazon it across your chest on a hoodie seemed a natural next step.
Each shirt is a challenge to people to look beyond what they first see, to literally ‘stop and reflect’ and consider something important.
Andrew steers away from traditional branding because for him, “the logo has no value in and of itself. It is the message that is important.”
He feels the fashion industry has somehow managed to convince consumers to pay for the privilege of advertising for them. Whether it’s a big tick on your chest or a meaningless logo, you are a billboard. So why not make it for good?
Not only does this clothing line enable people to become a billboard for good, it also does good. Mirrogram® sales have enabled Andrew to provide FREE presentations and workshops in schools, where he can challenge, mentor and inspire the next generation of young people to make a difference. One of Andrew’s core beliefs is that each of us has the potential to make a difference, and what better way to make an impact than to inspire and empower one person to go on and change the lives of ten others?
His shirts, caps and hoodies are for sale online and in various outlets across Australia. His designs have been seen on TV, the Australian Open, been championed by Olympians, and spotted in far-flung places like the Tour de France and the Grand Canyon.
People can get custom designed Mirrogram’s on shirts for a charity they support, corporate event they’re running, club they belong to or a cause they are passionate about. He has created reflective designs for Monash Health, Hope Worldwide, Southern Migrant Resource Centre and Cornish College.
Being an ideas man, he’s always on the lookout for innovative ways to spread the message, whether that means running over 240 flights of stairs to make his own stop motion ad or creating the world’s first Ambigram crossword, which can be solved both right way up and upside-down.
He’s also just joined Goodwill Wine, a phenomenal wine venture set up by entrepreneur David Laity after he lost his house in the Black Saturday bushfires. Laity used the bush fire money he was given, to set up an online wine shop, where people can buy high quality wine and choose which organisation receives $20 per case they buy. Already $75,000 has been given to charities signed up to Goodwill Wine. Ontheflipside is now among them and Andrew’s looking forward to promoting wine sales to his followers with the festive season approaching. Jump on and buy now, don’t be shy!
Right now he and his wife Lisa are arranging a trip to take six young people (past students) to India/Nepal in January for three and a half weeks. His students would often hear him speak passionately about his adventures, but what better way to teach them, than to show them? He proposed this trip of a lifetime, put the itinerary together and then set about fundraising with the kids to help cover some of the expenses of their trip. They just held a garage sale in Alexandra and raised $1,300 towards the trip.
They’ll be seeing the Taj Mahal, trekking, kyaking, elephant riding in National Parks, working with children in schools, visiting their homes and families, going to slums and temples and picking up rubbish in Kathmandu. They will be hosted by HOPE Worldwide representatives at various places as they travel. Andrew has volunteered with HOPE previously, so knows their ambassadors from past trips. He wants this trip to open the eyes and minds of these young adults and show them part of a world they otherwise wouldn’t get to see.
Talking to Andrew fills you with energy and positive ‘can do’ vibes – it’s inspiring to meet someone who truly is changing the world by changing perceptions, one day at a time.
*All garments are made under fair working conditions and are WRAP certified.
Article via Just Words.