We had the good fortune of connecting with Robyn & Jessie McLure and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robyn & Jessie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Our thought process behind starting Empowered Apparel was to create a clothing line that helped make people feel empowered! We are both really passionate about equality, feminism and women empowerment so linking our passion with clothing created our business Empowered Apparel. Being able to wear clothes that make one feel empowered and helps put a positive image out into the world was what continued to inspire us to design the collections for the Empowered Apparel line. Each of our collections and designs are based on women empowerment, feminism and equality for all no matter their gender, race, beliefs, religion or sexuality! Building a community for our readers is also an important part of Empowered Apparel. We focus on making our content to be inspirational, inclusive and to carry empowering messages.
From working on the designs, creating and maintaining the website, selecting the clothing and general administration of the business it has never felt like a job, just an amazing passion project that inspires us both.
Our goal is to help spread equality and bring more awareness to the challenges women face not only in our backyards but to the challenges women face all around the world. There is a beautiful quote that speaks directly to the inspiration to our cause “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own” by Audre Lorde. It is so important to acknowledge and change the ways women are oppressed and discriminated against in both big and little ways. By focusing on women empowerment, feminism and equality for all the world will hopefully become an equal place one day.
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets us apart is that we are striving to be more than just apparel. The quality of our shirts and the designs we make are very important to us but above all the message and the mission behind our business is what we are most proud of. We know when we put on one of our FEMINIST sweatshirts and head out into the world that we feel strong, confident and empowered. We hope others feel the same whether they are rocking our apparel or see someone else in them. The most exciting thing about our business has been the positive and supportive response we have had so far! Seeing our customers so excited about our apparel has already been so rewarding and inspiring!
One of the biggest challenges we have had to face is not being able to do contact sales with our customers. There is always something special about being able to connect face to face with people and answer any questions they may have. Unfortunately with Covid-19 that has not been possible but with the amazing advances in e-commerce technology we have been able to start our business in a global pandemic. We have been able to create an online store and reach so many people right from the safety of our own homes using social media. It’s been a huge learning curve entering the e-commerce world but also a very exciting one! The knowledge we have gained feels invaluable in our ever changing world when it comes to running a business today.
We want people to know how much we appreciate all the love and support we have received. It is so beautiful that the support for us has translates into love and support beyond us which is the one of most amazing parts of Empowered Apparel. We feel we have just begun this journey and we can’t wait to see where it continues to grow and are inspired to keep spreading empowerment and awareness about equality and feminism!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If our best friend was coming to town (as they often do), we know we are going to leave them with an unforgettable week-long trip and unique adventure! Our hometown of Thunder Bay sits on the Western shores of the great Lake Superior! And whether you have heard of it already or know someone from here you will never forget it! We would greet our bestie with one of our local tasty specialities, a Persian! A delightfully fluffy pastry shaped like an oval; a flat top covered in its signature pink icing that melts in your mouth. Yum! After we scarf down a half dozen of those, a hike would be in order!
We would set off on one of the hundreds of walking/hiking trails scattered throughout the region, all of which have a spectacular view of the Great Canadian Shield. The wildlife is bustling in the area, so watch out for those Moose, Deers & Bears “Oh My”! A classic hike up to the infamous rock formation known as “The Sleeping Giant” would be an exhilarating way to spend the day with breathtaking views. At the top of the Giant, we would have delicious sandwiches from our local popular deli Maltese. Also, what would be more fitting than a beer from The Sleeping Giant Brewery to wash it down with as we stare at the view from atop the Sleeping Giant. Even though we are not on an Island it feels like the water surrounds us. If you’re not on Lake Superior, you are on one of the many surrounding lakes all within 20km of the city!
Next on the docket, we would be headed out to “Camp” not the “Cottage” as we say here in Northern Ontario. “Gone to camp” is something you hear everyday! What about the weather you ask? Well… rain, shine or even flurries will not keep us inside! Weekends out on the lake make for great fishing stories during the week, especially when you have leftover Walley for lunch.
During our bestie’s stay we would make sure to head downtown to check out all the local homegrown businesses which Thunder Bay is full of! The downtown core has been developing into a vibrant and diverse community. Amazing coffee shops, restaurants and unique shops flourish on the streets of Bay and Algoma. Unique to Thunder Bay is our strong Finnish Heritage which you can see all over the city! While downtown a Sauna and Finnish pancakes would be a must down at Kangas Sauna!
Lastly, an unforgettable experience would be to journey up to Mount McKay among the Fort William First Nations community. The community often holds PowWow’s on Mount Mckay, which would leave you inspired by the bright and moving cultural celebration and your taste buds watering for fried Bannock!
We love our city of Thunder Bay and we’re very proud to be from here. Though one visit to Thunder Bay is never enough, there is a sense of home here that keeps bringing people back. The people are friendly, the food is unforgettable and the landscape will be forever etched into your soul.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We want to dedicate our shoutout to our Mom for all the support, love and encouragement she has provided us throughout our lives! There is a beautiful phrase that has so much meaning to us which is “I am strong because a strong woman raised me.” We both wouldn’t be where we are today without the love, strength and encouragement of our Mom. She has always empowered us as daughters, young adults and now as independent women. She empowers everyone around her. From her we have learned to love and empower ourselves and the people in our lives. My mom has also inspired and empowered me (Robyn) to choose a career as an Civil Engineer. As a young girl being able to see my mom work in the field of Civil Engineering she helped eliminate the invisible boundaries for women in a male dominated field. I am now working towards my profession designation as an Engineer and want to continue to empower women and girls into STEM careers.
Also, we want to dedicate our shoutout to all the women in our lives that inspire, empower and support us! We are so grateful for all the wonderful family and friends we have in our lives.
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/empoweredapparel