By Darren Lum
Lifelong friends and newly formed business partners Kirsten Rae and Kelly Kay are paying it forward to the community they’ve always called home through the sale of T-shirts with what they call an empowering phrase, ‘Support Your Local Girl Gang’ on the front.
Since they started selling the black T-shirts with white lettering made by CoHo Apparel on Feb. 21 through a Facebook post, $1,000 in proceeds has been raised and donated to the 4Cs Food Bank and another $600 raised of a $1,000 goal to be donated to the Minden Community Food Bank.
Kay said it was exciting to present the $1,000 cheque to Haliburton Food Bank treasurer Judy MacDuff recently.
“We didn’t really have any expectations going into it. Oh, maybe, we’ll sell a few shirts to our friends here and there and raise a couple hundred dollars, and then when we did the post it kind of blew up. And we kept having to order more shirts. We were blown away. It was definitely very exciting to be able to donate that much money,” she said.
Rae said Macduff told them the $1,000 donation would cover almost all of the costs associated with the purchase of a month’s worth of fresh vegetables for the food bank.
The Haliburton County-based realtors with close to 10 years of combined work experience in real estate have known each other all their lives, starting their friendship at the Wee Care in Haliburton and continued to Victoria Street School, then J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary school and at the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School where they graduated in 2006.
The two mothers, both with a son and daughter, said the charitable aspect was to help as many people as they could during the pandemic. Their volunteer experiences working with children was the backbone of the charitable component to selling the T-shirts. Rae and Kay have volunteered for Food for Kids at their children’s respective primary schools in Minden and Haliburton.
“I know the need for healthy food in the community so we thought especially during the pandemic that would be a way for us to really reach the most people in the community is to donate to the food bank,” Rae said.
Before real estate, Kay’s professional work history provided her an insight to how students depend on the work by the food banks and programs such as Food for Kids.
“Before I was in real estate I worked at the school board as an educational assistant so I’ve seen what kids bring for lunch and the kids that come to the school hungry. You don’t necessarily realize until you are actually in the room with the kid,” she said.
The T-shirt, Rae said, also has the added benefit of being part of the friends’ marketing efforts related to raising the profile of their new business partnership in real estate, which was officially launched Kay Rae Real Estate earlier this year on Jan. 1. The Support Your Local Girl Gang statement, Rae said, references their local business partnership and their gender. “And with Kelly and I starting this venture, we just thought, ‘Hey, this is great. We’re one of the only female real estate teams in the area so ‘Support Your Local Girl Gang,’ she said.
Buy the 100 per cent cotton T-shirts, which are offered in unisex sizes from XS to XXL, locally at the Beauty Basics by Amy at 136 Bobcayeon Road in Minden or by direct message through Facebook to Rae and Kay. There is free local drop off delivery, and free mail delivery anywhere in Ontario for the $30 T-shirts.
Rae anticipates the $1,000 donation they hope to raise for the Minden Community Food Centre will be met within a few weeks. She wasn’t sure about who would be the next charitable recipient, but after the success she believes anything is possible.
So far there is just the one design and colour combination of black and white, but Rae said they’ll consider other possibilities such as adding a tank top or a new colour in spring or summer.
Kay and Rae are happy and appreciative for the support they have seen in posts and in sales.
This achievement gives power to the importance of looking within your own community, whether it’s a service or a product, and how it can help each other, Kay said.
“We just wanted to make people aware that you can support local and get things locally and check before you go out of town to buy something. Maybe it’s available here. And from the donations from what we’ve done we’re hoping that it makes people aware that when you do support local it goes back to the community,” she said.
Rae said this effort’s success is owed to the community here and across the province and the country.
“We’re so appreciative of the feedback and the support we’ve gotten. We’ve shipped [the T-shirts] all over Ontario as well so the word is spreading and we’re so thankful for the community support and the feedback we’ve received has been fantastic,” she said.