Redwood Classics Apparel’s Letter to the Future Canada

To Canada’s Future Leaders:

It’s no secret that I’m a proud Chinese Canadian. As we stand by our neighbours to the south, here’s what it means to me to be Canadian.

Growing up, I took public transit from the suburbs to Toronto’s Fashion District to meet my parents at their respective factories. My mother was a seamstress and my father worked three jobs: he was a cutter by day, and in the evenings and weekends, he would wait tables at a Chinese restaurant or deliver pizza. Without surplus resources for daycare or summer camps, my father took me to work, housing me between rolls of fabric where I could overlook the factory’s production area.

In the late 90s, I joined a global financial intelligence firm, and worked my way up to becoming the Project Manager for one of the firm’s most notable Institutional Equity Market studies. After a year and a half of working an average of 14 hours a day (including weekends), my father asked me to join the family business. He said, “If you’re going to work so hard for someone else, why not work this hard for our family and all the families this factory provides for?”

Today, I stand beside my father and our craftspeople — and all of those who wear our handcrafted garments — with pride. Philanthropy and business aren’t mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the support of companies making a conscious effort to support local garment manufacturing by choosing Redwood Classics. In turn, I will do whatever I can to give back.

The future is now. Allow yourself to be mentored by business leaders while never forgetting the insight of refugees, children, immigrants, indigenous people, and members of the LGBTTIQQ2S. Join boards, network—do whatever you need to do to get that one foot in the door. When you become a leader yourself, lead by example. Be personally responsible for the well-being of each and every client and staff member. Business is no longer just about the bottom line. It’s about people first, the planet second and profit third. For a positive and fruitful business environment, all three of these components must be present.

Leadership, love and inclusion start at the top with transparency and heart. We’re all family and we’re all in this together.


Kathy Cheng
Redwood Classics Apparel team!