London clothing business assists Canadian athletes
Credit: NORTH STRONG COLLECTIVE
Twenty-five per cent of proceeds from purchasing an article of clothing from North Strong Collective go towards assisting Canadian athletes.
Karly Campbell, one of North Strong's co-founders, explained that a number of athletes in Canada struggle to make ends meet. She stated that 70 per cent of high performance athletes in Canada live below the poverty line and spend on average about $14,000 more in a year than they make.
“These statistics show to us and prove to us that it is really hard to be an athlete and to be able to make ends meet. I think it was those statistics that made us realize that this is a significant problem in our country and if we want our athletes to do well on the world stage, which we do, we have to do something about it,” Campbell said.
Tanya Maryoussef and Matt Boswick started North Strong Collective in January of 2017. Campbell later joined the team and the three entrepreneurs are now signing on new athletes to their program on almost a weekly basis. Currently, 12 athletes are signed up with North Strong Collective. Two of these signed athletes (Kristen Bujnowski and Kasandra Bradette) recently competed for Canada in the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Customers also have the option to choose which signed athlete 15 per cent of the proceeds will go to. If customers choose this option, the remaining 10 per cent will be split evenly to all other signed athletes.
“I think the inspiration behind the brand was trying to come up with something that was quintessentially Canadian. Something that Canadians from all over the country would be able to relate to and get behind. We wanted to take a piece of the anthem ‘true north strong and free' and have that represent not only being Canada strong, north strong, but allowing our athletes to be strong as well,” Campbell said.
North Strong Collective currently sells shirts, hats and wrist wraps.
Campbell explained that when athletes are successful on the world stage it makes a society healthier. She gave the example of swimmer Penny Oleksiak's success at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She explained that in the following year after the 2016 Rio Olympics, enrollment in swimming in Canada went up by 10 per cent. “We know that when our athletes are doing really well, that it inspires Canadians, especially Canadian youth, to live a healthier life. I think inspiring that next generation is really important for us,” Campbell said.
Some goals for the company long-term are to get into more retail channels, for Canadian athletes not to have to live in poverty and making North Strong Collective a platform for Canadian citizens to become connected to their athletes. In addition, North Strong Collective is planning on expanding their platform to give athletes a voice and a way to share their stories. “I can tell you through conversations with all of our athletes [that] all of them have incredible stories to share. They have overcome crazy challenges that we can't even fathom and giving them a voice to be able to connect those stories to Canadian citizens I think would be really amazing and it is something we are working on right now,” Campbell said.