VoyageLA: Life & Work with Kelly Slattery
The BC Arc

VoyageLA: Life & Work with Kelly Slattery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Slattery.

Hi Kelly, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.

Barely Canadian was launched through our heartfelt mission to support foster youth. As a foster adopt family, our adventure began as a way to show our foster kids that an idea, with consistent work and focus, can result in a product and maybe even a company down the line. Well, the harder we worked, the luckier we got, and we created our inclusive line of super soft clothing that layers everyone in love, color and acceptance.

People always ask why we’re called Barely Canadian. I moved from Toronto to sunny Los Angeles 20 years ago and I’ve become very accustomed to this gorgeous climate. So much so that, I’m always freezing cold, no matter what time of year or temperature it is. My husband Delaney loves to say, “you’re barely Canadian at this point”. Our running joke was that we needed a line of summer sweaters and mittens for the whiny Canadians living in a California summer.

We launched our brand at the end of September 2021 out of our garage and we sold out.  It was at this event that our long-time friend Marisa Polvino became such an avid fan of Barely Canadian that she asked if she could come on board and participate in our mission to help support youth and build our clothing and lifestyle brand.

Marisa and I are proud to share that we give 20% back from every purchase and also provide training and employment opportunities for foster youth while we work to raise money for foster youth organizations;  Echoes of Hope, Fosterpreneur Inc., and Kidsave through the sale of the cuddliest of clothing.

We’re excited to share that we’ve grown slowly but surely and just received our first PO from the LA Kings. Our Onesies will soon be in their retail store!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a new and young brand our biggest challenge has been finding a stronger presence on the web. Social media is interestingly a very fun part of our business, but it still feels as though we’re experiencing slower online growth compared to bigger brands. We bootstrapped this business, so we don’t yet have that exponential monthly budget that’s required for the competitive landscape of online marketing, which makes it difficult to rival with many of the brands in the industry.

That said, we’re excited each time we get a new follower on our social media, and we absolutely lose our mind when someone comments on one of our Instagram reels. So our challenges sometimes become our delights. : )

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Our two mandates within our brand are to work to help Foster Youth and to ensure we’re creating the softest and most comfortable clothing possible. Within those two criteria, we work to create unique products that we hope will become necessities with products like Smittens.

Smittens are fingerless gloves to help protect your hands from the sun and wind. Growing up in Canada, we’d often return home from school with only one mitten, hence our clever parent’s creation of “silly strings” that thread through the arms of your jacket or sweater to ensure your smittens are always at the ready with loads of softness.

Essentially, our Smittens are a love letter to Canada and our crafty parents.

We also have Onesies, Sunsies and Funsies.  Onesies speak for themselves, although ours are insanely soft and cozy. Sunsies were originally designed for a day at the beach or pool party to put on over your bathing suit to keep you comfy, warm and protected from the sun and chilly breeze.  Our Funsies are Sunsies with higher necklines that you can sleep in, go to work in, brunch in and even hit the dance floor at the end a good day. in. Wait until you put one on!

We’ve had a blast creating our products and look forward to sharing some new items this summer!

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
As a social enterprise brand, we give 20% back from each product sold. We also do our best to hire foster youth to work at our fun and campy showroom we call, The BC Clubhouse, and at our outdoor boutiques and photo shoots.

When we launched Barely Canadian it was a vehicle to show our children how to build a business from the ground up, we saw firsthand how valuable this process was, which is why we created our nonprofit, Fosterprenuer, Inc.

Together with our nonprofit partners First Star Academy and, our Fosterprenuer program teaches foster youth basic business skills, e-commerce know-how, and marketing strategies that can result in tangible revenue streams and help each child to create a thriving and meaningful future for themselves.

Through our Fosterprenuer program, foster youth create their own business mission and vision by designing their own unique brands and visuals that are screen printed onto Barely Canadian’s t-shirts and hoodies. The Fosterpreneur’s products are available for purchase through our online store come February 2023 and the revenue from each sale goes directly to the foster youth’s bank account. It’s their money and their business.

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