Unionapparel.org, a Vancouver based apparel company is taking a different approach to apparel.
Starting now, they hope to prove people wrong by encouraging them to speak to strangers – it’s called ‘Friendly Fridays’. Everyone who wears Union Apparel clothing on a Friday gives anyone permission to speak to them – and they promise to be friendly.
“I’ve read all of the blogs and articles about how hard it is to meet people in Vancouver but I don’t buy it. We just aren’t used to initiating a conversation with a complete stranger” says Union Apparel Co-Founder, Doug Crowe. “The people I have met in Vancouver are among the nicest people in the world. It seems the more means of communication we have – the less we communicate.”
Union Apparel was founded in May 2013 and has had some very quick success. Launching Hoodies for Hunger with Save On Meats on November 1st, they have already built a community of supporters in Vancouver and fed 460 people in the Downtown East Side.
While Hoodies for Hunger has been very successful, it is just the beginning. Union Apparel expects to see people talking about their new Friendly Fridays initiative.
How Union Apparel began
It started off as just another apparel company. Union Apparel was initially a custom clothing company who supported local sports teams and other social organizations. Their main purpose was to help them raise money. They gave amateur sports teams the ability to have their own memorabilia store. The custom apparel industry was very interesting but the founders felt like they were missing something.
One Night in late August, the Founders had a meeting. A question came up that usually does when a business is new. The question was “Why are we in business”. This is a hard question to ask and an even harder question to answer.
After a lot of back and forth communication and deep introspection, they came to an agreement. Everyone involved wanted to own a successful business so that they could one day give back to their community. They all wanted to complete charitable projects.
After this meeting, they realized that there are probably other people out there who would like to do the same things as them. So, they thought, why not make charitable projects the focus point of our business? Long story short, this is how Apparel With Purpose was born.
3 pillars of purpose
Apparel With Purpose is not just a catchy line. To us, Apparel With Purpose means that every single person who comes into contact with our business will benefit from it. It means every aspect of the company improves the standard of living of someone else. This is accomplished in 3 ways.
1. Our Suppliers
We will only work with small scale suppliers in rural parts of the world. The reason we do this is to stimulate their economy. If we work together with small suppliers in Africa, Guatemala, El Salvadore and similar countries, we will undoubtedly increase their standard of living. Not only will we be supporting the people who work for the factory, we will be stimulating their community’s economy.
If the garment workers have steady income, they can afford to buy better food from the farmers – giving the farmers a better income. We don’t wish to use large factories in places like China and then cover it up by donating proceeds to a charity.
2. Our Vendors
Unlike most clothing companies, we are not looking to sell to large retail stores. Although this may seem counter intuitive, we want to sell exclusively to small boutiques and “mom and pop shops”.
Although it would be nice in the short term (from a business perspective) to do a few large orders – we want to give small businesses and community entrepreneurs a better chance. Our reasoning behind this is because small retailers are usually run by owners who are part of the local community. It’s our promise to not sell out.
Much like it is with our vendors, we want to make community partnerships with small local companies to bring them new customers. We want to run small local events that bring people together from all walks of life. A good example for this is our Friendly Fridays event.
We want to partner with local coffee shops to host an event where everyone who supports our brand can get together and engage in friendly conversation without worrying about judgement. This will bring the coffee shop new customers and support the local community.