Youth Empowering Youth: Interview with Lone Pine Apparel | By Nisha Patel

At only 19 years old, the founders of Lone Pine Apparel are full-time students who are spreading awareness about youth homelessness in the city. Lone Pine Apparel—named to represent strength, resilience, and determination—is a socially-conscience clothing company whose profits are dedicated to creating awareness about issues facing homeless youth. They recently finished a round of crowd-funding and completed their first set of orders over Christmas, with the hopes of expanding more heavily this summer. Still in its early stages, the incorporated business is currently partnering with iHuman, whose stories they hope to start sharing on their website and through other media platforms very soon.

Founders Josh Thompson and Matthew Jacula created the clothing company in their final year at Strathcona High School after meeting in their high school leadership class, and soon brought Alida Soto to the team. The team says they were looking for ways they could impact the community that was different from the charitable model. “We wanted to create a new model of outreach that we could test out and pursue,” said Thompson, “we wanted to be a business and be sustainable.” Jacula created the current logo and clothing line with help from Soto, and has been working to gather and prepare stories under Thompson’s business management. Their goal is for their clothing line to fund and fuel the social media drive for spreading their message on youth homelessness in Edmonton. Specifically, they want to share unique, personal testimonies from at-risk youth to rally support for iHuman and similar organizations. Their success is driven by their customers’ knowledge that Lone Pine Apparel is advocating for and working with at-risk youth.

“People don’t take you seriously at the start.” Thompson says, recalling a bank attendant that scoffed when they went in to open their account. But the company has been growing and transitioning into a full-on business, and recently sold-out their first orders completely. They are hoping savvy spending and dedicated time over the summer will help expand their customer base and gather momentum for their next round of orders. Soto says that the biggest challenges in the future will be getting their name out there and attracting people who don’t have personal ties to the company.

“We know what we’re about, and sometimes its hard to communicate that properly,” she states. Jacula added that Lone Pine Apparel wants to ensure that they differentiate themselves from other social profit companies like Ten Tree by focusing on telling the stories of the youth and the people at iHuman, and other charities they’re hoping to partner with. With new expansion happening at iHuman right now, they are eager to see whether there will be an opportunity to incorporate the youth in a more hands-on way with their business, such as offering mentorship and design learning.

When asked what they’re hoping to achieve in the future, Thompson said they’re going to see how far they can take their company while still being full-time students. “I didn’t want to get as much out of it as I wanted to put into it to help others get something out of it,” Jacula emphasizes. He hopes that through design and photography they can share youths’ stories in a captivating way. Overall, their goal is to inspire others to take action, and be inspired by the community as they continue to grow. “We’re so young and inexperienced, but we’re learning from trial and error, and not being afraid of failure and the challenges that will come,” says Thompson.

“It goes beyond buying a product,” Soto finishes.

Banner Photo courtesy of Lone Pine Apparel 

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