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Young Haligonian entrepreneurs with a passion for fashion

They’re in their twenties, social media savvy and have clothing lines with a statement

6 min read
caption Co-founder of Citadel Clothing Co., Josh McKenna models their grey crewneck.
Delaney MacKay
Co-founder of Citadel Clothing Co., Josh McKenna models their grey crewneck.
caption The co-founder of Citadel Clothing Co., Josh McKenna, wears the company’s grey crewneck.
Delaney MacKay

East Coast Lifestyle started in an entrepreneurship class at Acadia University in 2013. Alex MacLean, then a business student, started the clothing company with an $800 loan from his father.

The well-known brand has been marketed to represent maritime pride, with hundreds of East Coasters wearing the clothing in social media posts around the world. Celebrities like NHL Stanley Cup winner Sidney Crosby and award-winning musician Ed Sheeran have also been seen wearing the brand.

Its success has launched a trend. Three years later, young Haligonians are creating their own clothing lines. Each of them started with personal connections and they all have a message. Here are their stories:

Shift Imprints

Shift Imprints started in 2014 with a car full of friends travelling to Toronto for World Pride, but has become a source of inspiration and personal acknowledgement.

Jessi Janes, 27, a graduate of the nursing program at Dalhousie University, is the founder of the Halifax-based clothing company.

With the help of her friends during their road trip, Janes says she came up with the idea of designing matching shirts that read, “My mom knows.” Their goal was and continues to be celebrating “being out” with your sexuality.

She says Shift Imprints is based on the idea that “we all have the power to make important shifts to positively impact ourselves and others.”

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Janes says her apparel allows people to express themselves and offer support to family, friends and the LGBTQ+ community.

The clothing line of tank tops are sold on the brand’s website and via Facebook and Instagram. Janes says Shift Imprints connects with the Halifax community both online and offline by delivering clothes personally and “by hand.”

Citadel Clothing Co.

A year ago, Josh McKenna, King Tabrizi and Jefferson Guest were tasked with creating their own clothing company for their entrepreneurship class at Dalhousie University.

Now, they are the founders of Citadel Clothing Co.

Tabriz, 22, who has a degree in commerce, says a lot of people have a “whacky idea approach” to entrepreneurship. But he wanted to create something he was passionate about: street wear and fashion.

“It was all united under a passion,” says McKenna.

The logo for Citadel came to McKenna in a dream, after hours spent brainstorming.The next day, he held a ripped up piece of lined paper, with the first sketch of their logo.

“It was in my head and I just needed to write it down before I could forget.”

The three agreed Citadel could be more than a class project and they each invested $1,000 in the company. So far all profits have been put back into the company.

The trio wanted to represent Halifax with an urban-style clothing line that didn’t resemble tourist symbols, such as lobsters and anchors.

[idealimageslider slug=”citadel-clothing-co”]

McKenna, 23, a graduate in microbiology, says they wanted to create a brand that creative minds, artists and musicians could identify with.

“The Citadel is a symbol,” says McKenna. “It’s historic, strong, protecting .… It’s the centre point of the city; it’s the heartbeat.”

He says social media, with the help of local photographers and models, plays a huge role in the marketing of Citadel.

Thankful. 🙏🏼

A photo posted by CITADEL (@citadelcc) on

The clothing is sold online and in local retail stores. And this year, for the second time, Citadel Clothing Co. will be presenting at Atlantic Fashion Week.

Me Before You

New to the local clothing scene, Me Before You was founded by Rhiannon MacDonald, 24, and girlfriend Vanessa Hamkens, 21, last month.

The company’s name, not to be mistaken with Jojo Moye’s popular romantic novel and the movie, is “about putting yourself before others and taking care of you,” says MacDonald.

MacDonald says once they establish themselves and grow as a company, they plan to donate a portion of their profits to mental health organizations across Canada.

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With a large LGBTQ+ following, MacDonald says they look forward to working with more people in the Halifax community to promote diversity.

Hamkens has been drafting ideas for years. During the summer, friends asked to buy a hand-stitched shirt Hamkens designed. After this encounter and with the support of one another, the two brought their idea to life.

I’m all the “way up”

A photo posted by ME BEFORE YOU (@mebeforeyouclothing) on

They have invested about $1,000 in the project. Their apparel is sold personally through Instagram and Facebook. A website is in the works. 


Although based in Toronto, Rene Amit has brought Tenfed to Halifax.

Amit, 21, is studying nutrition at Mount Saint Vincent University. His involvement with the clothing company started on a trip to Cuba, where he met Tenfed founders Mike Wallis and Kory McLaughlin.

“They tossed me a couple shirts and we made an unwritten agreement that I would do a photo shoot and get this product down to the East Coast,” he says.

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As a sales representative for Tenfed, Amit says social media accounts have become his primary sources for advertisement.

Classic. Simple…yet changing the world. @reneamit #teamtenfed #tenfedproject #feelthelove #the6ix

A photo posted by Tenfed Clothing Co. (@tenfedproject) on

Tenfed has partnered with Kids Against Hunger Canada to provide 10 meals for children globally for every article of clothing sold.

After meals are distributed, all profits are reinvested into the company, meaning there’s no net profit or salary.

“In time as the company grows, we hope that this becomes sustainable,” he says.

Amit says in their first year of business, they fed more than 20,000 children.He plans to showcase Tenfed clothing at this year’s Atlantic Fashion Week.

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