Year of the Rooster founders (from left) Logan Ross, Jordan Johnsen and Josh Hutton. (courtesy YOTR)
Three young men are contributing to the fight against
cancer in an unlikely way: by designing clothing.
Jordan Johnsen, Logan Ross and Josh Hutton formed Year of the Roster Clothing in December of 2012. The Winnipeggers all share an interest in art and had been kicking around ideas for a shared business since they graduated from Churchill High School in 2011.
After Hutton landed some design work for California-based Fortune Cookie Clothing, the friends' plan started to take firmer shape. But the choice to donate a portion of all their sales to CancerCare Manitoba only solidified last summer, when the disease touched each of their lives.
Johnsen had already witnessed his mother's fight with breast cancer in 2010. He says watching his mother, a "four-foot-eleven, not very tough-looking lady," throw all her energy into overcoming the disease was deeply inspiring. Last summer, Hutton also had to watch a similar battle when his father was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
Then in the late summer, at age 19, Ross was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"He started chemo in October," Johnsen said. "He did great. His hair fell out, but he had no nausea, no pain. Even his doctors said he was lucky."
Hutton had been away visiting family in Calgary after his father's treatments. When he returned, he had no idea his friend was now coping with cancer.
"He walked in on a group of us and saw we'd shaved our heads to be like Logan," Johnsen said. "We had to explain to him what had happened and he said, 'Get a razor because we're shaving my head right now.' "
Ross responded well to treatment and had time during his
medical leave from the army to hash out final designs with his partners. By the
beginning of 2013, the threesome had graphics ready for shirts, hoodies and
hats based on their shared birth year, 1993 - the year of the rooster.
But they still hadn't printed or sold an item until they were invited to participate in Urban Rhapsody, a fundraising hip-hop concert scheduled for early February.
"With a couple weeks to go, we started looking at how much it would cost to do a short run of the clothes, if we could do it in time," Johnsen said.
At the event, Johnsen and his friends met other local urban clothing designers who were similarly launching their brands as fundraising vehicles. That's when they had another idea. To open a store that could be a springboard for local independent clothing designers, as well as their own brand.
The group is in the final stages of negotiating finances through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and already have a location selected in Osborne Village. They hope to find out within the month if their hopes to found a hub for local fashion designers will become a reality.
"We don't want to be just another designer store in the village. We want to create an experience," Johnsen says. "You can walk into any store and buy a shirt. You can't walk into every store, meet some cool people who are selling their own brand, hear about some more local brands, get your picture taken and support a cause."