We all know about Canadian powerhouses like lululemon and Roots, but what about the other innovative and inspiring Canadian companies that are doing amazing things in the world of fashion, design and food and making a positive impact on our communities too?
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She Takes on the World
She Takes on the World is the brainchild of serial blogger and businesswoman Natalie MacNeil. A globetrotter and an entrepreneur, MacNeil created her company She Takes on the World to inspire more women to live their happiness and create their own businesses. Originally from Ontario, MacNeil is also the co-founder of Emmy award–winning digital media firm Imaginarius. MacNeil provides courses and information for like-minded women, and as she says, “The best way to get your dream job is to create it yourself.”
Canadian company Tiny Devotions creates stylish and sentimental mala beads for the modern boho chick. It sells all its goodies online but also has stockists throughout Canada, the U.S. and around the world. All its pieces are handmade, and each mala has a different intention infused into the stones and beads used. They’re made in a traditional Hindu-style, using 108 beads. These are prayer beads and have a semi-precious stone attached to the end, each stone bringing different positive energies to the wearer. Great for meditation, prayer or as a gorgeous accessory.
Did you ever think a dress could make a difference to someone’s life? Like, really make a difference? Well, that is exactly what the people behind Obakki Foundation think, and it’s through creativity that they make a difference. With its head office in Vancouver, Obakki is a group of passionate people using fashion to make a change. 100 per cent of net profits and donations go straight to their humanitarian projects. Obakki has supported people in developing nations by means of water, food and education programs, and to date the foundation has set up 12 schools in Cameroon. It’s doing awesome things in Canada and beyond. Be sure to pay the foundation a visit.
Twigg and Hottie
Located in the hottest shopping district in Vancouver, Twigg and Hottie not only has probably the cutest name for a brand ever, but it’s also in the business of working with 50 of Canada’s hottest young designers, giving up-and-coming design stars the opportunity to market and sell their wares. “We have proudly helped elevate many of our designers to the point where they are self-sustaining and growing. We are always looking for more fun, crazy, creative people to support.” It has tags on all its showpieces too, explaining whether the piece is locally made, features sustainable materials, is Canadian, uses recycled materials or is one of a kind.
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A self-proclaimed “B.C. girl at heart,” Allison of Allison Wonderland loves summertime fiestas on the patio, lying in the grass and evening swims. But when she’s not doing all that, she’s designing clothing inspired by her favourite decade, the ’70s. Allison creates fashionable pieces for “the everyday woman who is busy working, running around town and getting things done.” Her 2013 spring/summer campaign is full of bright colours to warm up with during summer, as well as great pieces for the office. Allison has an eco-friendly line too, which was created in 2011 and is called Pillar.
Designer shoes for those who are not faint of heart, Fluevog is well known on the fashion circuit, and rightly so. Created by John Fluevog and his long-time friend and ex-partner, Peter Fox, and formerly known as Fox & Fluevog, its designs are chic but have a touch of flair that make people stop and look — in a good way! Peter is now working on his own range of women’s wedding shoes in New York, and John’s now designing solo for what is now just called Fluevog. The shoes have a killer unique style, and as John says on the website, “Fox & Fluevog immediately became the very coolest place to treat the feet and has remained so ever since.”
Matt and Nat
Now this company is stylish and seriously eco-friendly. If you’re into the environment and against animal cruelty — and you should be — then Matt and Nat, which represents “mat(t)erial” and “nature,” is your go-to brand. Created in the mid-’90s, Matt and Nat is all about caring for the planet, vegan cupcakes and making sure all its products are in line with its mandate to use eco, recycled and upcycled materials. But hold on, stay with me here… The products are seriously cute and high fashion. Visit the website to see some of the company’s gorgeous creations.
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This store looks like rock ‘n’ roll had a love child with interior design. It’s edgy, sexy and ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for stylish pieces to add to your pad. Located in Montreal, Surface Jalouse features pieces by graphic designers and artists, including loud decals for walls, windows, floors and wherever you can think of putting one, really. It also offers a variety of graphic and edgy “wow!” furniture pieces that are sure to impress your friends the next time they come over for drinks. These guys fuse art and design and, as a result, have created some bold and sophisticated pieces for the home.
Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op
With a mission statement like “People and the planet before profits,” you just know this company is going to be doing amazing things. Just Us! Coffee Co-Op was created by a group of friends who had a passion for social justice in Latin America and wanted to support coffee growers by offering fair prices for their produce. Now they support producers in Costa Rica, Colombia and other regions, and are serious about making a difference. When you know the story behind the coffee your drinking, it tastes all the better.
Cole and Parker
If you thought it was great that Obakki is making a difference through dresses, then just wait until you hear about Cole and Parker, which is creating business opportunities through socks. That’s right — socks! Entrepreneurs Jeff and Diana stuck their heads together and got onto the idea of marketing a great product that could also support entrepreneurship in North America and abroad. Pick up some socks from these two, and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy, both inside and out.
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