WE'RE SO MUCH MORE THAN A T-SHIRT COMPANY!
When we bought Harlequin Nature Graphics in 2007, this was a new kind of business for us. It was first founded in 1985, and by the time we took over, operations in the U.S. and Spain had shut down, leaving only the Canadian company.
So why would we buy a T-shirt business when we were brand new to manufacturing and the gift and souvenir business? Our daughter has suggested it is because I, Kevin Clancy, have four drawers of T-shirts — and there may be something to that theory.
But mostly, we did it because we saw HNG as an opportunity to combine meaningful work with the pursuit of several personal goals.
We are avid nature lovers and consider ourselves environmentalists. Granted, when you live somewhere as beautiful as Vancouver Island, it is almost impossible not to be a nature lover. We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by wilderness and to see wildlife in its natural habitat on a daily basis. But we also feel a certain responsibility to help promote the protection of nature. HNG gives us a way to do that and participate in a global community of nature lovers.
We also want to support artists. The amazing artists who design for HNG products are real, independent artists who take great pride in their work and feel strongly about the wildlife they depict so beautifully and accurately — and they deserve to be compensated for that. We pay our artists but not just for the original design: every item sold pays a royalty to the artist for as long as we carry that design in our catalogue or online. And with our most popular designs, that could be years and years.
Another goal is to create employment locally. When we bought HNG, it was essentially a warehouse: the screen-printing work was out-sourced. In 2009, we changed that by moving to larger premises and installing our own equipment so we could do everything in-house. We are proud to be a local employer and proud to say HNG products are screen-printed in Canada.
We’ve gotten much smarter about business over the years. You’ll see our products in shops across Canada, including at the Toronto Zoo, Royal Tyrell Museum, Calgary Zoo, and Vancouver Aquarium. And we are honoured to be recognized as the best nature-graphic T-shirt company in the country in terms of quality.
But even more than that, we have learned that being passionate about what we do and sticking to our principles is truly a good way to run a business.