Kelly Saltzman of Awoke N’ Aware in Toronto
Sustainable fashion brand Awoke N’ Aware was set to celebrate a strong first year of operation when the pandemic changed everything. Now, as the retailer pivots online, co-owner Kelly Saltzman says her team has been encouraged by the support from their new community of customers and fans.
“We can’t wait to get back to markets to interact with customers again. Their love and support is what really matters, and shows us that the brand is something special.” – Kelly Saltzman, co-owner of Awoke N’ Aware.
It’s not every day that your clothing purchase can help save some rhinos.
Founded in 2019, Awoke N’ Aware is a sustainable and ethical apparel brand on a mission to save our vulnerable planet. It all starts with their products, made with eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton and recycled plastic. But as the company began to grow, they took their environmental commitment even further.
"We knew manufacturing products in a people- and planet-friendly way wasn’t enough to really make a difference," Kelly explains. It prompted Awoke N’ Aware to start donating at least 15% of their profits to international organizations such as the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which works to protect endangered species such as rhinos. Awoke N’ Aware also has apparel which supports elephants, polar bears and other conservations.
Like all small businesses, the pandemic dealt a series of unexpected blows to Awoke N’ Aware. The team was about to celebrate their one-year anniversary at the Green Living Show, one of the brand’s biggest events of the year, before it was cancelled the morning of.
"We love meeting our customers at this show, finding new people interested in the brand and most of all, it was where we planned to celebrate our first year," Kelly says. "We had to quickly pivot to revamping our online presence."
They wasted no time. Since the shutdowns began, the team has completely rebuilt their website, Instagram and Facebook community, and has launched a series of items previously exclusive to in-person shows, now available online. It includes their new Ocean Edition line created from recycled plastics, with 15% of profits going to support ocean clean-up missions.
While the rapid business adjustments were challenging, the team has always stayed inspired thanks to the support of their local and online community. “We get little messages from random customers expressing their love and gratitude towards Awoke N’ Aware,” Kelly says.
"And as a small brand, that means the world."
With styles as impressive as their larger commitment to environmental change, Kelly’s team at Awoke N’ Aware have crafted a customer pitch that’s hard to turn down.
"All in all, if you like being comfy, and love elephants, rhinos, polar bears or the ocean, we’re probably a brand for you!"
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