Céline interviewed Heather Kirk from Social Fabric & Erich Züger from Balboa about their collaboration.


We heard some rumors about the two of you working together somehow. Is that true? Please tell us more about it!

Heather: Erich saw Social Fabric’s crowdfunding campaign on Facebook through our mutual Impact Hub friend and Hubonaut Flurin Conradin (from Stadtmilch), who was wearing one of our T-shirts. So Erich approached me to find out how we could work together, because he had the idea of supporting refugees through Balboa and of course also because of the T-shirts. As he was in need of promotional gear for the Balboa gym anyways, he wanted to see whether there was an opportunity for working on something together.

Erich: For a while now, we at Balboa we were looking into how to work with refugees. We wanted to take action and find out how to include them in the community or in the gym with workouts. But we wanted it to be something concrete and very close to us. So when I saw Flurin’s post and read about the Social Fabric project that was happening in Zürich, I knew it was something to look into. And as it was a project born at the Impact Hub Zurich it was very tangible. And we just kind of knew it has to be good. [laughs]


Those were the first steps. How did you really meet and kick-off this collaboration after that?

Heather: I went to Balboa because Erich sent me this message saying “I have some ideas for collaboration, let’s talk about this” and invited me to the Balboa Garage to see what their business is about and what the atmosphere is like. The second time we met, I invited the Balboa team to come to Social Fabric on one of the mornings that we have refugees coming in to sew, so that they would see what the atmosphere at our place was like and what we were doing.

Erich: I think it was important for both of us to see the space and business of each other. At first sight, a gym might not be something special, so that’s why I wanted her to come in to see what our community is about. It was all about understanding each other and sharing the spirit. We realized quickly that we had common values. Of course the products of our collaboration will be T-shirts with a price tag on them, but this is more about the background and the story behind it than about the material and the work. We’re happy that it was such an uncomplicated fit.



You talked about the values that brought you together. What are they?

Erich: The most important shared value is self-empowerment. It is very obvious in Heather’s case for Social Fabric and the refugees working there (leaving their homes and taking a huge, risky step). But it’s also something happening a lot at Impact Hub, the people there are taking a risk as well but are willing to so for their success or even happiness. We want this spirit in our gym as well: the workout and social contacts should make you feel independent and self-empowered (physically, mentally and socially) – this is where our values overlap.

Heather: On top of that, having a sense of taking responsibility for every day choices, may it be choosing what food you eat, how your train, what clothes you put on your body, is also a strong value that we and our customers share. And probably also diversity and community: the feeling that you want to contribute to things that benefit not only yourself but a larger community.

Erich: And finally the factor initiative. It’s all about just doing it and taking action. That is important for all of us – at Impact Hub, at Balboa and at Social Fabric.


Any tips you could give to any other members looking for possible collaborations?

Heather: At Impact Hub you can chose your level of involvement. So you can still be at the Hub and work in isolation if you want to, but you can also chose to meet other people and really network. The people working here are very helpful, so if you’re open and take responsibility yourself, you can definitively meet the people you want and need. You can always ask the Hubonauts or the staff – they are very good at introducing people to each other. And then also just participate at the events at Impact Hub…

Erich: I’m probably not as active as Heather – I would like to be more involved though. But every time I’m at the Hub it’s very fruitful. People are just very open-minded; if you talk or write or try any kind of interaction with people, it provokes something. So my advice would be, just take the risk and go talk to people. The worst thing you can get is a “no” – and how bad is that?! It’s always worth to try it, that’s a general rule for life.

Heather: And the success rate is pretty high at the Hub because the barriers are very low.

Erich: Yes, the Impact Hub is like a catalyst and it’s working really well.


We’re happy that the two of you found together for this project. Any last words about the fruits of your collaboration?

Heather: Well we are making 100 T-shirts for Balboa and the whole process is very collaborative for the designs and also the choice of material. This is the coolest part of the experience: the actual working together for the finished product instead of doing a service for someone else. The shirts should be ready at the end of November and will be available at the Balboa Garage.

Erich: It’s a great chance for us to also talk about what is happening “behind” the T-shirts. Usually in gyms, all you will hear are the Before&After. But we at Balboa want to tell the stories behind the six packs, the stories of the people training, empowering themselves and what is happening to them. It’s the same for the T-shirts. There is a story behind it and that’s what we want to show. So stay tuned on social media!

Heather: P.S. There might even be a release-party for the T-shirts before Christmas!