What happens when socially conscious clothing brand Higgins Would Be Proud, named after Higgins, a portly pug with an air of royalty, combines forces with Fred Victor, a social services organization aiming to help the impoverished and homeless? Beautiful gifts that spread the warmth for the homeless and their beloved dogs in Toronto!
HWBP was co-founded by Fang Yu and Ben Egnal. They met at Parsons School of Design where Fang majored in fashion and illustration and Ben majored in graphic design. Upon graduating, they moved to Toronto, Ben’s hometown. Sniff & Barkens talks to the co-founders about their brand and how they reach out to both dogs and humans at risk:
Sniff & Barkens: You are a socially conscious brand: how do your customers respond to that?
Higgins Would Be Proud: Being socially conscious is important for us. Consumers want to know more about brands they interact with than ever before. When someone makes a purchase, they can feel good knowing that it goes towards helping a dog or dog owner in need. Whenever we bring up this information to a new customer they are immediately more engaged with the brand.
S & B: How did the idea of Share the Warmth come about?
HWBP: In Toronto, it’s not uncommon to see homeless people in the streets accompanied by a dog. As heartbreaking as it is, it gets even sadder in the winter when there are very few places to go to get out of the cold. Most shelters cater to only people or pets, not both. When we found out about Fred Victor, an organization that welcomes both individuals and their pets, we felt we had to do something to get the word out.
S & B: Do you see a special bond between the homeless Toronto residents and their dogs?
HWBP: Any dog owner will tell you that their dog is part of the family. This sentiment is magnified when you’re homeless and your family might not be around. At times, it can probably feel like your dog is the only family you have. Given this, it makes sense why some would rather brave the freezing cold then desert their dog. We definitely saw this bond come through when we gave people on the street hoodies for them and their dogs – they were incredibly grateful.
S & B: How were your gifts received?
HWBP: On the day of the shoot, we gave out ten hoodies to homeless people and their dogs as we came across them on the streets, and they absolutely loved it. We also took a trip to social services community group Fred Victor, and dropped off boxes of goodies with dozens of different items for the residents and their pets.
S & B: Tell us about the dog hoodies, what they are made of, how material is sourced
HWBP: The dog hoodies are made by the private label brand Romy and Jacob. When we first looked into getting custom dog hoodies made we were thrilled to find them as it is increasingly rare to find any type of manufacturing within Canada. Romy and Jacob do all of their production in Montreal and our custom dog hoodies are made out of a cotton blend – 50% cotton and 50% polyester.
S & B: Tell us about your involvement with Elder Dog Charity. Is that also in Toronto?
HWBP: Right now, we give 10% of each purchase to the ElderDog charity, an organization that helps aging dogs and aging dog owners. ElderDog is primarily based out of Nova Scotia.
Want to help clothing brand Higgins Would Be Proud continue to help pets? Order one of their awesome hoodies for dogs here: http://www.hwbp.ca/collections/dog-clothing
or see how you can contribute to Fred Victor here: http://fredvictor.org/home
HWBP (aka Higgins Would Be Proud) is a socially conscious clothing company that believes in representing where you’re from. Our apparel is designed, sourced and printed in and around Toronto. We also give 10% of each purchase to the ElderDog charity. But mostly, we just try to make Higgins, the adorable senior pug, proud.
Fred Victor is a social service charitable organization that fosters long-lasting and positive change in the lives of homeless and low-income people living across Toronto, assists at-risk people by 18 different sites across Toronto, help people rebuild their lives by offering: affordable housing, emergency shelter and hot meals, job training and counseling.