ARICHAT: A new Isle Madame business is up and running.
What makes Friends Apparel different is that it is staffed by children (Jaelynn Clannon, Levi Boudreau and Cayden Clannon), run out of a home, and its main investors are mothers of the staff.
The new business sells tie-dyed and bleached t-shirts, and it has customers from around the country and the United States. Levi and Cayden said they decided on the name because they are all friends.
“We put our logo on it,” said Levi. “For the Javex (t-shirts), we use a clear one, but for the light ones, we use the dark logo.”
According to mom and investor Melissa Clannon, the original Friends Apparel logo has changed since the business started up at the end of the school year.
The idea started after the children attended an entrepreneur camp at École Beau-Port. The kids said they were inspired by the success of East Coast Lifestyle.
“We had our whole plan out and we made a logo and everything,” Jaelynn told The Reporter. “Mom (Melissa Clannon) and Melissa (Samson) said we can just do it by ourselves.”
“Right after the camp, the tie-dye stuff was already at the front door of their house,” Cayden noted.
The process for making each shirt takes about 24 hours and they buy the 100 per cent cotton shirts at Wal-Mart. After the shirts are purchased, customers receive a note that each is made with “laughs, fun and love” with a warning that each should be washed inside out.
“We do about 12 hours because, when we do it, we have to rinse them off,” Jaelynn said. “That’s why we just do it in the morning. We have to do the same things at the same times.”
Getting their start at the beginning of July, Friends Apparel started sales at the farmer’s market at LeNoir Landing in Arichat, where they sold 56 shirts.
“They’ve been tie-dyeing non-stop for a month since they made their Facebook page,” investor and mom Melissa Samson noted.
After the “Friends Apparel” Facebook page was created, word spread to neighbours and other customers.
“They stopped because they knew that I was somebody from Friends Apparel, so they said, ‘Are you the people from Friends Apparel,’ I said, ‘I am,’ they said, ‘I saw somebody on the beach a couple of days ago, and I really like their t-shirt, can I have one?’ She told us her size and she told us that she wasn’t a big pink person,” Jaelynn recalled. “All of our mediums had pink on them so she couldn’t use any of them. So we had to make a special shirt for her. It went to Ottawa.”
Through their Facebook page, shirts have also been shipped to Texas, California, Minnesota, Manitoba, PEI, New Brunswick, and Halifax. In addition to Facebook, Friends Apparel has opened an Instagram page. The business has offered product give-aways as well to those who shared and commented on Facebook.
“A lot of word of mouth and we have some pretty persistent customers that are like, ‘go find these kids,’” Melissa Samson said. “It’s awesome and we encourage everybody that buys a shirt or has a shirt to take a picture and put it on our Facebook page or send it to us.”
Equally special is that Friends Apparel is donating $1 from every shirt to a local charity which was selected in a live draw on Facebook. Leeside Transition House will receive a donation from the proceeds of shirt sales in September.
“It’s really cool that somebody challenged them to do that,” Melissa Samson said.
To save on shipping costs, Samson said some people have been kind enough to take orders back with them.
Because word-of-mouth has spread so far so fast, Friends Apparel will soon make an appearance on Telile.
Even though they will be returning to school in September, Friends Apparel will keep making and selling shirts up to the Christmas market at LeNoir Landing, with help from friends and relatives.
“Because of COVID, you can’t go lots of places, so tye-dyeing is fun,” Jaelynn said.
Noting that many people have told them their shirts are nice, the kids said they would like to continue running their own business.
“We’re going to keep some of our money inside the company so we can buy more shirts, so we don’t run out of business with no shirts,” Levi said.
Melissa Samson said there are plans to offer different products like long sleeve shirts and sweaters, give each style of shirt its own name, as well as selling specific styles for customers.
She added that the response to the business has been great.
“It’s really cool to see the community get involved and be pumped for something that the kids are doing, and they love it because it gives them confidence and it’s a good starter for them as they get older,” Melissa Samson said. “It helps them maintain money, it helps them budget, it helps them realize, like Levi said, instead of taking money out, they’re keeping money in the business.”