Heath sat down with Wolfe Co. after photographing some pieces of theirs in the mountains of Colorado. We were curious to learn about their business, the products, and their reasons for being makers.
How did you get started creating apparel?
Wolfe Co. began more out of frustration and national pride than a desire to create apparel. As a proud Canadian, I have been consistently disappointed by the willingness for companies to outsource and produce abroad; there is so much talent and potential in our own country that I think should be valued and put to good use! Just out of curiosity, I began to research the manufacturing process within Canada and thought to myself, “You know what? You could actually pull this off.” And Wolfe Co. just sort of happened from there.
Who taught you how to create apparel/design fashion merchandise, or were you self-taught?
I am almost entirely self-taught. My mother owns a clothing store, which helped me massively in terms of merchandising and the logistics of owning a store. But the actual designing of apparel is entirely new to me. Luckily, I have come across lots of experts in the industry who took me under their wing and showed me the ropes.
Did you know you would start your own brand, if not what spurred it?
No, not at all. I have always known that I wanted to start my own business – I’m definitely an entrepreneur – but fashion never really crossed my mind as a valid option. There are so many designers starting out and so many competitors who have a really good business going, so the prospects of being a successful clothing brand weren’t particularly appealing to me. That said, Wolfe Co. has found a gap in the market where there is relatively little competition: entirely Canadian-made clothing that supports Canadian workers and artisans. Unlike large fashion brands, Wolfe Co. refuses to sacrifice quality and it’s ‘proudly Canadian’ roots to make a profit. There are so many clothing brands out there already, and I never imagined that this would be the direction my journey would take. But the brand is about far more than just the clothing; Wolfe Co. We do not mass produce; we rely heavily on small family businesses across Canada who are invested in the idea of a truly Canadian brand. We do not sell for a profit; we sell Wolfe Co. to spread an idea and to spread the love for our country. It is an ideal, a lifestyle, and an homage to Canada.
How do you get ideas for new products & photo shoots?
Inspiration comes from anything that is iconically Canadian. Wolfe Co. strives to cater to both urban and rural aesthetics; our clothing is suitable for a weekend in Algonquin Park or a night out in Toronto. Keeping that in mind, a look-book might include winter shots skating on the famous Rideau Canal, a night around the campfire, or stills of a college road-trip from coast to coast.
What are your inspirations?
Natural beauty is at the heart of the Wolfe Co. mission. What I mean by that is that our brand is not looking to cater to high fashion trends. Wolfe Co. encourages the kind of lifestyle that is raw and pure. The world around us is full of amazing things to discover and many of the colours in the Wolfe Co. palette have been inspired by the richest of colours found in nature.
It’s that get-up-and-go mentality, the free spiritedness of taking life’s potential into your own hands, that inspires us. It’s a way of living that’s not unique to Canada alone, but a way of living that the ruggedness of Canada inherently promotes.
How do your hobbies influence what you make?
Animal welfare and the environment have consistently appeared throughout my life as areas of importance that I feel obligated to support in whatever way I can. The world has become a place of convenience and self-promotion…I think it’s so important to stop, look around, and give back to the world that we live in. It’s not always just about us.
That said, a large part of Wolfe Co. is about giving back. Our campaign called Northern Strong - #NorthernStrong – is a series of t-shirts, hoodies, and other Wolfe Co. products from which 10% of each purchase is donated to the humane society in my local community.
In addition, 100% of the profits from Wolfe Co.’s WILD Iron-on Patch is donated to the Woodland Wildlife Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada.
What has been your biggest challenge?
One of the biggest challenges for me has been to articulate to consumers what Wolfe Co. is all about. It’s not simply a piece of clothing that looks pretty, or trendy, or “cool”; Wolfe Co. apparel and goods are sold with the intention of starting a movement for national pride. Our country is overflowing with talented craftsmen and dedicated workers who should be recognized. Every sale makes a statement in support of these craftsmen. We need to support our own people by becoming economically and environmentally conscious producers and consumers.
Look up at the stars tonight and let yourself be overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe. You are a small cog within an enormous system, but like all systems, every piece plays a crucial role. Wolfe Co. encourages you to realize this part you play in the world, socially, economically, physically, and emotionally.
What's been your best advice you've been given?
Best advice I’ve received so far: you need to be open to criticism – you won’t get everything right on the first try. But, do not alter the vision you have for your brand just to make an extra buck or two.