A wide smile – one filled with pride – crossed Kelly Anne Farrell’s face, as she pointed to the colourful design that emblazoned her T-shirt.
“That’s mine,” she said.
The artistry – now making a fashion statement – is a re-production of her nautically-themed painting, one featuring the blues of the sky and sea, along with a fishing boat and wharf.
Farrell, along with fellow Antigonisher Tommy Landry and Anthony Burns of Lousidale, Richmond County – members of Hearts and Hands, a L’Arche Antigonish initiative, where members create art with and for the community – provided their work to a T-shirt line designed by Canvas Clothing Company.
“We were very excited,” Steffi Drechsler, Hearts and Hands co-ordinator, said of the collaboration.
Canvas Clothing owners – high school entrepreneurs Michael Putnam and Sam Silver – brought the proposal to L’Arche Antigonish early in the summer.
“They are really proud,” Drechsler said of the artists’ reaction to the response from people.
The now Grade 12 students from Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School launched their apparel partnership through Summer Launch, a program developed and led by the St. F.X. Extension Innovation and Enterprise Centre.
“It has been invaluable,” Silver said of how the pair – and their business – has benefitted from the business program.
Along with learning to run a business, they wanted to focus on showcasing local artists and organizations, while creating unique pieces of clothing.
As for the idea to team-up with Hearts and Hands, Silver explained, it stemmed from his great experience with Unified Sports, a program through Special Olympics that supports an increase in physical activity for participants and provides students of varying abilities an opportunity to play team sports.
He also talked about his time, with other Regional student leaders, with the school’s community living class.
“It has been an amazing experience,” Silver noted.
The business owners also recognized the timing as a perfect fit with the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games, which took place last summer in their hometown.
“We thought it would speak for Antigonish,” Silver said of using artists’ creations on the clothing.
They have sold T-shirts at the Antigonish Farmers’ Market, while they are also available at Antigonish 5¢ to $1.
Putnam said they are excited with the response, which has stretched beyond the local area.
“We have gotten messages – and orders – from across Canada,” he noted.
Another reflection of the success of the partnership came on this day, when the teenagers visited L’Arche Hearts and Hands to turn over a $500 cheque, fulfilling their commitment to donate 20 per cent of their profits with the initiative.
“It has been great,” Putnam said, after they made the presentation.
As for the name Canvas Clothing Company, it came after an almost two-hour Facetime call, the memory of which evoked chuckles from both young men.
The moniker reflects a double-meaning; canvas not only related to clothing, but also the material used by artists.
With Putnam planning to leave the area for his post-secondary studies after their high school graduation in the spring, they plan to dissolve the business partnership.
At this point, Silver expects to continue operating the company, while he attends St. F.X.
“I have some ideas,” he said.
For more about Canvas Clothing Company, including how to purchase T-shirts, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages, or email firstname.lastname@example.org