We chatted with Shafat, Canadian entrepreneur who founded Stout&Co. We were impressed by how he was able to grow his family business supporting both his home country of Bangladesh and his new home country of Canada. Stout&Co is exactly the kind of company you want to support; they are made ethically, stylish and give back. Read more about our conversation with Shafat below.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Shafat, and I made Toronto my home while attending York University. I run a local menswear company, producing ethically made cotton dress shirts.
Tell us a little about Stout&Co.
Stout&Co designs and manufactures shirts – with a classic fit, a timeless style, and straightforward selection. Using high quality 100% cotton and available in 13 colours and patterns that easily pair with jeans or a suit, we believe in keeping menswear uncomplicated.
What 3 words would you use to describe Stout&Co?
Classic, ethical, stylish.
Tell us more about the “Shirts for the Global Citizen” aspect of your brand.
My father owns a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and has been making high quality shirts for well-known brands for decades. With a strong commitment to his craftsmen and craftswomen, we provide them with a safe place to work, paying living wages and providing necessary childcare for our employees raising young families. Often, products made in Bangladesh receive negative stereotyping because of the unethical factories in the region that overwork employees, don’t offer fair wages, and provide unsafe working conditions. We are working to change both the way factories are run, and the stereotype that international manufacturers aren’t ethical.
Tell us about the Canadian aspects of your brand.
My wife and I grew up in the same city in Bangladesh, but didn’t meet until we both traveled abroad to attend York University in Toronto. After graduation, we decided to make Canada our permanent home. We wanted to unite our family ties across borders, by designing and manufacturing shirts in our family factory and selling them in Canada, without the brand name mark-ups.
What motivates you?
My family, first and foremost. Beyond manufacturing garments, my father also runs a not-for-profit hospital that specializes in treating patients with Thalassemia, a rare blood disorder. Most of the patients are children. $2 of every shirt sold is donated to the hospital, as a tribute to his passion for giving back to his community.
What do you find most challenging about operating your own business? What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
It’s always a challenge to offer a new product in today’s highly saturated market. But if you believe in your product or service and stay committed, you’ll succeed. Sometimes your initial results aren’t what you hoped for, but commitment and hard work will elevate your business in the long run.
What has been your most fulfilling experience so far?
I think finding a way to join the family business, even though I moved to Toronto many years ago. It’s a hard decision to move far away from your family and where you grew up, and I’m excited and proud to have found a way to help grow my father’s business in the country I now call home.
What are you currently Reading? Watching? Listening to?
When I’m not busy running my business, I try to catch up on Netflix! My favourites recently have been Stranger Things, and Frequency.
What does “style” mean to you?
Fashion is trend-based, style is personal. It’s how you represent yourself to the world. What I love about our shirts is seeing how different people have chosen to use them as key pieces in their own, very personal sense of style.
Photos Courtesy of: Stout&Co