They might look like they should be forming a boy band, but Bal Dhital, Tim Keys, Dan Robson and Pat Prell were born to do so much more.
They are four mates on a mission to make a change through their social enterprise, Borne.
Borne creates mosquito-repellent clothing, where half of its profits are donated to fund resources like bed-nets and medications for the people who need them most.
Their ultimate goal is to help create a future that is free of mosquito borne diseases.
Bal said it all started because of a competition at the University of Newcastle.
“The university was running a challenge last year called The Grand Challenge and it had two components to it,” he said.
“The campus is just infested with mosquitoes and it’s particularly awful in summer so they said: ‘How can we fix the problem of mosquitoes on campus?’
“But mosquitoes also pose a significant burden to global health and so [they asked]: ‘How can we think about using a local problem for a global issue?’
“So, we had a few whacky ideas and drew together this team of the four of us who have a pretty diverse skillset and backgrounds and what we decided to do was create organic clothing that is mosquito repellent.”
Their project has grown from there and, according to the team, has generated quite a bit of interest.
“People seem to be really resonating with the mission,” Bal said.
“I think people want to find some way of connecting with a global issue that is more than just throwing a gold coin into a donation bucket.”
Dan added that people were excited by their shirts.
“I think people have been really excited about the mozzie repellent side of the shirts – they’ve been really curious, and we’ve had a lot of engagement around that side of it,” he said.
“The technology that it takes to make the shirts mozzie repellent and the fact that we live in an area that has a lot of mozzies has meant that the uptake has been really good.”
Tim said the four of them all brought a different skill to the table and hoped to help the “mozzie hub” – a description of Newcastle.
Tim is a junior doctor, while Bal is a final year medical student.
He said the two of them tend to look at it from a medical perspective.
“Dan is a graphic designer by trade; he does a great job on our shirts, and has also worked in social enterprises in the past and sees it from that perspective and Pat’s a mechatronics engineer.
“So, he’s been mainly looking at our website and the technology aspect of the business.
Pat believed they had an edge over their competitors because their t-shirts were more stylish than other similar products on offer.
“Permethrin, the chemical that repels the mozzies, has been treating shirts for a while and we’re getting a third party Insect Shield to do it,” he said.
“But no one has had access to casual looking shirts, which is what we bring to the table.”
Go to the Borne Clothing website to order, or for more information.
Their first run of t-shirts will be arriving soon, but be quick because there is a limited supply available.