Above: Morinville’s Deputy Mayor, Brennan FitzGerald, says he will not be running for council in the next municipal election. Instead, you’ll likely find him busy working to SEA some big changes in the World’s oceans.
by Jennifer Lavallee
Morinville News Correspondent
During the next municipal election, this October, there will be one less familiar name on the ballots in the Town of Morinville: Brennan FitzGerald. The Morinville councillor, and current Deputy Mayor, says he will be trading in politics to focus on a different passion—his new business.
FitzGerald recently launched a start-up called, SEA Change Clothing Co. The venture focuses on retailing high quality, Canadian-made clothing, with a twist. FitzGerald, who grew up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia, has committed to removing three pounds of garbage from the ocean for every product SEA Change Clothing sells.
Think of it as clothing for a cause.
“The sea has always been a part of who I am,” said FitzGerald in an interview, “there’s salt water in my blood, so this is a very natural fit.” The business, which has been in the works for about a year, recently moved into its soft-launch phase with an unveiling of the SEA Change Clothing’s website and social media platforms, on-going prototype development of sample products, and building hype by doing what FitzGerald does best, talking to people.
The clothing itself is being manufactured in Vancouver using only ocean-friendly materials, such as organic cotton. FitzGerald said, when it comes to his clothing line, he wants to consider every aspect necessary to ensure SEA Change Clothing is ocean-friendly, right down to product packaging.
Initially, SEA Change Clothing will sell items like t-shirts, baseball-style shirts, and hoodies. As the brand grows, FitzGerald envisions a higher variety of products to become available.
To keep track of how much waste SEA Change Clothing is supposed to remove from the ocean after products start selling, FitzGerald said there will be running tallies on his company’s website. That way, customers will see how much garbage SEA Change Clothing still needs to remove from waterways, versus a tally that shows how much they’ve already removed to date.
“When you clean up any waterway, you’re cleaning up oceans. So much of the waste from rivers and lakes ultimately end up [there],” explained FitzGerald, who said clean-up events will likely occur year-round, from coast-to-coast in all different types of waterways. “It will be easy to host a variety of events; I’m from the east coast, so I plan on spending quite a bit of time there, as well as in Vancouver (where the products are being made).” Events will be a roll-up-your-sleeves and get working type of deal and will include beach and shoreline clean-ups.
“Clean-up events will be [done by] internal SEA Change people but, also, we will utilize the community that SEA Change builds,” remarked FitzGerald, “…it’s a way to encourage people to be part of the solution.”
As SEA Change Clothing Co. moves closer to its official spring launch, FitzGerald said he will be initiating a Kickstarter campaign this month to help raise funds (about $10,000), which will mostly go towards manufacturing product. Raising funds this way, he said, will also contribute to building brand awareness. A Kickstarter campaign works like this: someone donates money to a campaign, and in return, they receive some product once that business is on its feet. FitzGerald estimated raising $10,000 on Kickstarter will give him $5,000 in hand to stock up on product, which he will sell via the SEA Change Clothing website.
FitzGerald said though he has no immediate plans to open a physical store, he does hope to take advantage of the popular ‘pop-up shop’ trend (when small markets are temporarily set up at different types of events and locations).
Tapping into the experience he’s gained as a politician, FitzGerald asserted his business is going to prioritize using its voice to advocate for ocean health. Something, he said, can occur at all levels of government. “I want to maximize the impact that I can make,” he noted. It’s an idea that appears to be resonating with people; FitzGerald said he’s encouraged by all the positive support he’s received since announcing the SEA Change Clothing Co., even from complete strangers as far away as Australia.
“Oceans are such a huge part of who I am,” said the 22-year old politician turned businessman. “Every person is intimately connected to the sea; it literally gives us life. I believe [the oceans] should be important to everyone.”