The Hot or Not of Canadian Brands: What Are the ‘Nots’ Missing?

Well, 2017 has indeed gone off to the races kicking a few Canadian brands down at their knees.


The end of 2016 showed promise with Canadian Business’ glowing reviews of a few Canadian retail giants. Of course, we have to agree with Mountain Equipment Coop taking the top spot. It’s a Canadian favourite that continues to invest in creating a remarkable guest experience with hiring authentically “on-brand” humans who love life outdoors.


But beyond the promise of MEC, other Canadian brands within the retail/apparel space haven’t been as fortunate.

  1. Hudson’s Bay Company announced 2,000 layoffs in early June.
  2. shut its doors in early February, claiming bankruptcy and putting all of its employees out of work immediately.
  3. Kit + Ace, after several roller coaster rides and waves of great talent, officially made the call to shut all international stores, keeping only a small team based in Vancouver with Canadian stores and ecomm open.
  4. Ingledew Shoes, after 102(!) years being a family-run business in Vancouver, shut its doors.

While these brands have been shrinking, others are thriving and celebrating the disruptions they’re creating.


  1. Tentree is a family-owned tree planting business that started in 2012 in Regina, SK and has opened its first Vancouver office with plans to continue expansion beyond its deep wholesale partners. Their mission is clear: to become the world’s most environmentally friendly company.
  2. knixwear is a three-year-old company based out of Toronto, ON, and is committed to taking a stand against the likes of Victoria’s Secret for functional and beautiful bras and panties that are made for every body. Follow their IG feed for a guaranteed good chuckle at the raw #truthbombs they drop. They are creating a product that has been desperately needed for so long — functional and beautiful.
  3. Native shoes is a Vancouver success story that has recently appointed a former lululemon executive to come and take the brand to new global heights! We are cheering for their new shoes, kids line + Kyle!
  4. Reigning Champ has been long time coming with excellent, methodical growth. As they now look to expand into the US in a very big way, they feel as though they’ve never once compromised quality to get there. #compromisesucks

So, what gives?!

What’s been missing for the brands that are going down in flames? Luck? Dolla dolla bills?


How about connection?


MEC, Tentree, knixwear, Native shoes, and Reigning Champ all have a mission to create a positive difference in the world and for the people in it. Maybe presented in different ways, but they’re crystal clear on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And that’s what people connect with.

Who you hire and who you work with may come to you for the what, but they stay for the why — don’t forget that.

Meet Steph. She is a force. She is a firecracker. She is a lover of love.

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