Ottawa’s OPIN is putting its head together with a Calgary-based apparel company to keep some of the city’s most vulnerable residents warm this winter.
The digital agency recently formed a partnership with Alberta’s Local Laundry to champion the Giving Toque. For every toque that Local Laundry sells, it will donate one to a homeless person in a major Canadian city.
Those donated in Ottawa will be distributed to clients at the Youth Services Bureau, a local charity that delivers a range of programs and services to support at-risk youth and their families. The YSB offers support services for youth facing homelessness, including emergency shelter, food and clothing.
While OPIN and Local Laundry fall into very different industries, both place huge importance on giving back and supporting Canadian business.
“As a rapidly growing company, there is a responsibility that comes along with that – to give back to the community that helped you grow and the community that also gives you business,” says OPIN marketing manager Suzy Kendrick.
She is the one responsible for bringing the two companies together. After getting involved with Local Laundry during the year she was living in Calgary, she relocated to back to Ottawa in 2016 and became the company’s YOW brand ambassador.
“I just love the whole idea of the brand, and representing where you come from and being proud of it,” says Kendrick. Local Laundry’s flagship line is its YYC Collection, a reference to the airport code for its home city of Calgary.
To support the campaign, OPIN is acting as Local Laundry’s Ottawa champion, spreading word about the Alberta organization in the nation’s capital and encouraging other local businesses to purchase toques as employee holiday gifts.
"At OPIN, every staff member matters and every cause that matters to that employee matters. It’s empowering and it makes you really proud to work there.”
While Kendrick is ultimately the link between OPIN and Local Laundry, the two companies share many common traits in terms of cultures and philanthropic motives.
CSR at OPIN
When OPIN chief executive Chris Smith founded the firm, he knew he wanted the web development agency to be about more than just the bottom line.
“At the end of the day, the Canadian community is where many of our clients come from,” says Smith.
When Kendrick brought the Giving Toque campaign to his attention, the national scope of the project was one of the things that appealed to Smith most. Toques donated through the campaign will be distributed in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa.
“Not every great idea comes from the top. At OPIN, we really live by the idea that the people within our company all have an equal say,” says Smith.
The support from her employer is not lost on Kendrick.
“It just goes to speak to what an awesome company it is,” she says. “At OPIN, every staff member matters and every cause that matters to that employee matters. It’s empowering and it makes you really proud to work there.”
Made in Canada
The Giving Toque is the first piece in Local Laundry’s Local Collection. The line of made-in-Canada clothes is intended to draw attention to and muster support for a different social cause with each new piece.
The toque is intended to shine a spotlight on housing insecurity in Canada, while offering help to homeless populations across the country. Local Laundry hopes to donate 1,000 toques across Canada ahead of the holiday season.
Similar to Smith’s experience with OPIN, Local Laundry founder and CEO Connor Curran knew he wanted to give back when he founded the apparel company.
“It was always baked into what we do right from the beginning,” says Curran.
The company donates 10 per cent of its profits to a different charitable organization each month.
Not only do they donate, but Local Laundry lets its customers choose where. Each time a purchase is made through their website, buyers are asked to recommend a charity. At the end of the month, one organization is randomly selected off the list.
“If you’re going to build a clothing company that represents where you come from, why wouldn’t you want to give back and help build that community to make it a better place?” asks Curran.
Though not all of Local Laundry’s products are made in Canada, Curran explains that it nevertheless places emphasis on carrying some locally manufactured apparel.
High labour costs drove what was once a burgeoning textile manufacturing industry in Canada overseas. In carrying some made-in-Canada clothing, Curran hopes to bring at least a small piece of the industry back into the country.
Made-in-Canada goods also reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing. Shorter distances to the end user mean less emissions from the vehicles required to transport the products.
The Giving Toque is available for purchase online at locallaundry.ca. You can also pick one up at retailer viens avec moi in Wellington West, located at 1338 Wellington St. West, or at Habitude DESIGN in Gatineau, located at 22 Eddy St.
Learn more about OPIN and its unique offering of digital services at opin.ca.