BACK IN 2009, high school buddies Jonathan Higgins, 20, and Stapana Ith, 20, made an unusual New Year’s resolution: start a clothing company. “We’ve always been interested in business,” says Ith, a business administration student at Medicine Hat College. “We saw the beginning of a new year as the perfect time to take the next step and start something real.”Higgins & Ith, the brand they launched, is consistently adding new retailers and building recognition in an extremely competitive industry. In an attempt to differentiate the company, Higgins & Ith have embraced corporate social responsibility, supporting projects that contribute to positive social change in communities around the world. “Julie Hauck, a good friend of ours, inspired us when she went to Nairobi, Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage,” says Higgins, company co-founder. “In support of her generosity, we donated some of our clothes. Judging from the pictures we got back, the orphanage appreciated the initiative.”Marketing is one of the biggest challenges facing Higgins & Ith. Retailers are extremely price-conscious, and any sales gains are hard-fought and worth the effort.“We see complete strangers wearing our clothes,” says Ith. “That’s been one of our biggest rewards – seeing somebody we don’t know wearing our brand. It inspires us to keep going.”
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