The “ugly” Christmas sweater has become a quintessential feature of the holiday season, on par with the festive songs that filter into radio playlists or the joys of wrestling with Christmas lights… Who doesn’t love the excuse to purchase a festive sweater for upcoming Christmas parties?! It triggers the unquestionably warm & fuzzy feeling we all crave during Christmas, especially during frantic gift shopping and copious amounts of family interaction. (cue the little Grinch in us)
At DHP, we are all about the spirit of GIVING this month. When we came across the launch of Wear It Forward’s Christmas sweater line, which offers cozy (and honestly, quite opposite of “ugly”) Christmas sweaters that give a portion of proceeds to charity, we knew this was a story that needed to be told.
We had the chance to catch up with Jasmine Begin, the Founder of Wear It Forward (WIF– “the brand that keeps on giving”), to talk about the launch of her NOT SO UGLY Christmas sweaters; high-quality sweaters that donate a portion of profits to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
ABOUT JASMINE & WEAR IT FORWARD
Jasmine, born and raised in Ottawa, grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and always knew she wanted to start her own business.
“I always wanted to do something on my own. My family has their own business, but I wanted to do something by myself like my dad did. He started with nothing.”
While working at a restaurant in downtown Ottawa throughout university, Jasmine began saving for her business, even though she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do right away.
After reading the story behind Phil Knight (Founder of Nike) in “Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of NIKE”, an idea sparked:
“I liked [Nike’s] business concept. I thought if all of these big companies donated even $1 of their sales, what a huge difference that would make. And everyone wears clothes; why not start making it a source to give back?”
After brainstorming ideas of clothes her and her friends would wear, the NOT SO UGLY Christmas sweater line was created. The design and manufacturing quickly took place, and suddenly, just last week, it was time to share her start-up with her inner circle:
“I did a launch with my friends and everyone really liked it, but the real test is to see how it goes in the public. I want to make it a big brand where at the end, we’re splitting the profit between business and charity. Making profit but also making a difference.”
Within this past week, Jasmine received an outpour of support from the public. Starting at a mall kiosk, she is quickly developing a strong following on social media and has been offered features at local Christmas markets, such as the Dominion City Christmas Night Market. WIF has also received brand recognition across the country, with pictures of people wearing her sweaters from North Vancouver to Nunavut.
Jasmine hopes that this crowd involvement with pictures, stories, and ideas continues. The NOT SO UGLY Christmas Sweater has had a deeper meaning for many, and Jasmine hopes to continue shifting consumerism to become more socially responsible:
“I don’t want my label plastered everywhere, I just want people to start thinking that the clothes they wear every day should be doing good in the world.”
With a portion of profits going to charity, Jasmine plans to support multiple organizations. As for this Christmas sweater line, there was no question that Jasmine would support CHEO as her first charity of choice. Especially during Christmas, CHEO holds a special place for Jasmine, who had suffered severe burns as a child and frequently stayed at the hospital for numerous surgeries and treatments.
After the holiday season wraps up, Jasmine hopes to continue releasing socially responsible clothing and invites others to continue their involvement in the growth of Wear It Forward:
“I want people to keep sharing their stories and ideas, to send me their pictures, to suggest other charities… Any way to get the word out and give back to the charities that matter to us!”
Even in this short amount of time, it is clear Jasmine is passionate and ready to persevere with Wear It Forward. Throughout her journey, she has stayed true to her beliefs, and with experience and time, she developed a business that represents her: fun, friendly, laid back, and socially mindful.
“Now that I have the idea, it doesn’t even seem like work anymore. I’m working towards something that I’m excited about. Even when I spend long hours on it, it’s just fun.”
What is Jasmine’s best piece of advice for anyone thinking of pursuing their dream?
“Take your time and follow the path that makes you happy.”
Check out WIF at www.wearitforward.ca
Sweater kiosk is now available at Bayshore Shopping Centre!
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