Sustainable clothes build brand
THUNDER BAY, ONT. – Following the success of a holiday pop-up online store over Christmas, Ontario Parks has started a year-round online store. Park crests, T-shirts, water bottles, hoodies and other clothing items are available on the site with all sales reinvested back into Ontario parks.
Business partners and owners of Ungalli Clothing Co., Hailey and Bree Hollinsworth, have been among Thunder Bay’s forerunners in logo apparel and have been screen printing clothing for Ontario Parks for the past two years.
Their handy work can be found on Neys, Rainbow Falls and White Lake Provincial Park apparel.
The women relocated their store to the former Cineplex building on Cumberland Street and are making use of the space.
“We do a lot of custom printing here so it’s kind of like the main focus of our move here,” Hailey Hollinsworth said. “We do all the screen printing in the back and we partner with Superior Screen Printing. We print custom logo T-shirts on our “sustainable tees” and we’re doing them for Ontario Parks too.
Hollinsworth explained that their T-shirts are made from recycled water bottles, and reused and organic cotton. Each shirt is made from about 10 plastic water bottles, and they do all the manufacturing in Canada.
“It was never really the plan to actually print for others with their logos but everyone wanted their logos printed on more sustainable shirts,” she said.
“So that’s kind of how our business has evolved. We get a lot of customers like Ontario Parks and places that are focused on the outdoors while being kinder to the environment with their apparel. So we get a lot of requests from places like that.”
The women are just wrapping up a campaign of pre-ordered T-shirts and hoodies which they screen printed with “Thunder Bay Stands With Ukraine.” A portion of the proceeds from the sales will be given to Doctors Without Borders to help in Ukraine.
The merchandising of local items has caught on in the last five years where more entrepreneurs are seeing the opportunity to create and market Thunder Bay branded clothing and other wares.
Paul Pepe, manager of Tourism Thunder Bay, says it all helps amplify awareness of the city.
“In Thunder Bay, we’ve seen a number of clothing companies like Ungalli and the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company that have their logo imprinted on them and that all really really helps promote the city,” he said.
“We’re seeing a lot of entrepreneurs who are really stepping up to the plate and seizing an opportunity to promote the city. We get a lot of visitors that are looking to buy Thunder Bay clothing that’s an authentic local representation of the city and there’s so much choice right now to do that. It’s really good to see.”
Pepe added that using e-commerce to sell park merchandise helps to raise their profile and with provincial parks such as Kakabeka Falls, Sleeping Giant and Ouimet Canyon nearby, Thunder Bay also will benefit as a “hub city.”
Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE CHRONICLE-JOURNAL