Their first sale, while exciting, wasn’t the one that really made Claire Lachance and Jessica Wisbey smile.
It was shortly thereafter, when they made their first sale to someone who wasn’t a friend of family.
The longtime friends have started their own line of lifestyle apparel called the Niagara Clothing Company. It’s similar to other place-specific lines like Okanagan Lifestyle Apparel and seeks to celebrate the Niagara lifestyle, which Lachance and Wisbey characterize as life between two lakes.
“It’s life between two lakes, from Erie to Ontario. And it’s home,” said Lachance, a St. Catharines resident.
They launched in early August, and offer unisex T-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs, with plans to expand in the future. They offer green, blue and grey, saying green and blue perfectly represent the natural heritage of Niagara and the two Great Lakes that surround the region.
And grey, because, “everyone likes grey,” said Lachance.
Lachance has a background in business but this is Wisbey’s first foray into the entrepreneurial world. They came up with the idea in the spring and worked with a graphic designer to create the brand.
“We really wanted to have a unique look,” Lachance said.
And while they had a very clear idea of what they wanted, the graphic designer “helped us bring it to life,” added Wisbey.
The duo say Niagara is a unique mix of small town and urban, with each community within the region providing its own personality to make the peninsula what it is. Wisbey is from Fort Erie, where Niagara’s south coast offers something a little different from, say, the Twenty Valley area.
They both hope to expand to explore some of those regions and drill down to what really makes Niagara tick.
“We have so many plans,” said Wisbey. That includes a line of hats and patches they’re planning to release soon.
They also say the line is great for those who may be moving away from home — teens leaving Niagara for college or university, for example — to keep Niagara close to them.
“Take a piece of home with you,” Lachance said.
They described sales as slow and steady, which they’re fine with. They’re hoping to be involved in some of the fall festivals.
Right now they’re an online-only business, but if things go well they say they’d love to open a bricks and mortar store in the future.
For more information visit niagaraclothingco.ca.