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Niverville students launch clothing line

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 04/6/2018 9:00 AM

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	Niverville Collegiate students Marcus Jofre and Cole Funk display Social Clothing’s hoodie, while business teacher Suzanne Mathieu and student Maddie Thompson hold up a sample t-shirt. Diana Laso, Leah Reimer, Shadaye Fast, and Jazmyn Lajeunesse are also involved in the project.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Niverville Collegiate students Marcus Jofre and Cole Funk display Social Clothing’s hoodie, while business teacher Suzanne Mathieu and student Maddie Thompson hold up a sample t-shirt. Diana Laso, Leah Reimer, Shadaye Fast, and Jazmyn Lajeunesse are also involved in the project.

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A group of Niverville Collegiate students have launched a line of streetwear that will help their fellow teens fend off a chilly spring with style to spare.

Social Clothing is the brainchild of seven Grade 11 students at the school.

Initially undertaken as an assignment for their Visions and Ventures business class, the project has grown into a full-fledged entrepreneurial endeavour.

"We actually just closed pre-orders yesterday," said Maddie Thompson, who oversees marketing and acts as the brand’s president.

Thompson, along with Marcus Jofre (human resources) and Cole Funk (finance), sat down Tuesday with The Carillon to explain their clothing line that includes a hoodie, crewneck sweater, and t-shirt.

"Clothing is a way you can express yourself. It’s kind of artistic," Thompson said.

The group gravitated toward streetwear, a type of versatile casual clothing popular not only among their peers, but among anyone wanting to keep warm and comfortable through a long prairie winter.

"Anybody can wear our clothing. We wanted it to be more casual and simple so you can style it up however you like," Thompson said.

The collaborative design of the pieces features local flourishes, like Thompson’s sketch of St Boniface’s iconic Provencher Bridge.

"We all put our little touches on them," Funk said.

When it came time to formulate a name, the group referenced another aspect of local culture: the social, that ubiquitous and most Manitoban of gatherings punctuated by pickles, garlic sausage, and cheese cubes.

"We wanted our brand to be very Manitoba-based," Thompson explained. "Manitoba is actually the only province that has socials."

Initial interest in the clothes surpassed their expectations.

"Close to twenty orders in our first couple weeks," Funk noted.

Sourcing from Canadian suppliers was important to them. Artik and T-Shirt Elephant, both based in Toronto, supply the clothes.

"We wanted to do that so we could stay more local," Thompson said.

"It’s also cheaper for shipping," Jofre noted.

While the students’ ambition has allowed them to make impressive strides in just two months, Funk said the things they’ve learned in the school’s business class have been invaluable in getting the project off the ground.

"It gave us an opportunity. It was like a foundation already set, and we just built on top of that," he said.

Teacher Suzanne Mathieu said the students also benefitted from checklists and other resources provided by Junior Achievement Canada, a youth business education organization that offers work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship materials to Grades 9 to 12 students.

Mathieu said the Social Clothing group has taken the assignment above and beyond her expectations.

"They’re really happy and keen to be working on things, which is so much better than just doing theory and trying to teach them by bookwork" she said.

"They are learning real-life skills they can take beyond school."

Remarkably, this isn’t Thompson’s first foray into the clothing industry. She previously held an unpaid internship designing clothes for Triple Flip, a Canadian activewear brand.

"I worked for them for three years. I learned a lot from that," she said, including marketing and design basics.

All three students said it feels great to know that in a few weeks people will be walking around in clothes they designed, sourced, and marketed.

Funk and Thompson said they may even carry on with the orders process over the summer, and hope to add a warm weather line.

"It all depends on our sales and how good it’s going," Funk said.

The project has also kindled an entrepreneurial drive that may extend beyond high school.

"I plan on taking business courses to help run a business and keep it going," Funk said.

The first clothing order arrives in mid-April, and packaging and distribution will follow.

Extras were ordered, and pricing and other inquiries can be made via Instagram direct message, or by emailing socialclothinginfo@gmail.com.

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