“My sister and I did everything together as kids,” says Hailey Hollinsworth, co-founder of Thunder Bay’s Ungalli Clothing Co. “It just makes sense that we’re now running a business together.” Hailey and her sister Bree launched their eco-friendly, ethical clothing company a couple years ago, using sustainable fabrics made from recycled cotton and recycled plastic and polyester (think: cafeteria trays, plastic bottles and X-ray images). They quickly found success with their made-in-Canada T-shirts, hoodies and long-sleeved Ts stamped with fashion-forward graphics that promote environmental and conservation causes.
And now, the littles can wear Ungalli too. The company has just launched a kid’s line, with two different T-shirt designs—grey with a pink or blue African animal print, or grey with the white Ungalli tree logo. The super-soft shirts are made from 50% recycled polyester and 50% organic cotton and range from XS (which fits a four-year-old) to XL. “Tons of people had been asking us when we were going to do kids' clothes, so this is truly answering customer demand,” says Hailey. The animal design is already on the back of a zip-up sweater, and kids passing the Ungalli kiosk at Intercity Shopping Centre regularly stop to take a look at it and point out the animals they recognize, so they knew they had a winner.
The sisters' company is getting attention. They recently won a Top 30 Under 30 award for Sustainability Leadership in Canada, as well as a Quest Climate Grant from Canadian Geographic magazine. The $50,000 grant allowed them to source organic cotton and support the growing organic cotton industry in the developing world, bring all their manufacturing to Canada and to start selling wholesale (local companies and organizations wearing Ungalli include Boulder Bear Climbing Centre, Roots to Harvest, Red Lion Smokehouse, The Foundry and a teachers’ union).
Ungalli also carries one children’s book: The Name of the Tree by Celia Barker Lottridge. When Bree and Hailey were small, their mom Connie read it to them nearly every night, and they loved hearing the retelling of a Bantu folk tale about animals who persevered during a drought and found a life-giving tree—but to get its fruit, they have to first discover the name of the tree. “The animal that found out the name of the tree, called Ungalli, was the smallest and slowest of the bunch,” write Hailey and Bree on their company website. “To us, this demonstrates that no matter how few we are in number or how limited we are in terms of resources, we can accomplish great things when we band together.”
More info www.ungalli.com