“Other Half Men’s Shoppe” On Being Socially Conscious

A few weeks ago, we visited the Other Half Men Shoppe for their grand opening. Today, we check back in with owner Andrij Harasymowycz to see why the social and environmental causes he backs are just as vital as how stylish his offerings are.  Andrij puts an equal value on social consciousness, product quality, and gorgeous aesthetics.

Other Half work with a women’s shelter called Ernestine’s that’s incredibly relevant (especially today. National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada), and who they collaborated with on their store opening, donating proceeds to the organization.  Since 1983, St. Ernestine’s has offered counseling, housing, and youth programs for survivors of gender-based violence.

They’ll be hosting their next event on April 11, 2018 (tickets here for those interested).

“One of our dear friends has been a volunteer with Ernestine’s for a few years. In passing conversations we’d discussed the organization and the work they do.  When I opened my store I wanted to help now and in the years to come. Our Grand Opening in support of Ernestine’s was the first step.  We’ve been to their facilities and seen first hand the impact they have on the lives of the people they serve.  Incredible doesn’t do it justice.  It was a surreal and bittersweet experience.  Heartbreaking to hear some of the stories, yet beyond encouraging that places like Ernestine’s and the people who work and volunteer there exist.  “

A women’s shelter in collaboration with a men’s shop might seem random, but it’s the opposite. Male allies are essential in eradicating violence against women.  

 On the surface, a “Men’s Lifestyle” store might seem like an odd pairing with a women’s shelter, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “

It’s the social duty of men to back up women and become allies in order to strengthen the collective voice of the abused female. To separate themselves from the men who are ignorant enough to commit this violence, and spread the message that supporting and protecting women is fundamental.

Andrij himself is a husband and father and agrees. He thinks there’s more we could be doing to eliminate gender-based violence, and that the backbone is respect and a commitment to standing up for what’s right, and doing the right thing.

There’s no place in a civilized society for violence, especially violence against women. Organizations like Ernestine’s demonstrate a dedication to empowering and assisting victims of violence and abuse – an effort to ensure we as a collective break the cycle of violence.  As a husband and father, I’m proud to stand with them and support these efforts.  As a small business, we are committed to using whatever small platform we have to make the world around us more loving, compassionate and life-giving.”

Andrij wants people to see his shop as a safe space. A place where everyone is welcome. They can’t wait to collaborate with other organizations and host events similar to the opening which support and donate to these causes. They’re already working to support the Movember Foundation (who were also doing a series with this month), and offering donation incentives.

Right now [at time of interview] as November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we’re offering our “Moustache Cufflinks” at 25% off and will be donating 25% of those proceeds to Prostate Cancer Research. We’re losing money on that particular product, but it’s not about the money or exposure for the shop – it’s about being good people.  We have signs in our window and at the cash, and even if no one participates in this particular initiative, If it makes someone stop and think about the cause, it is worth the effort and money.  I wish I could simply cut a big cheque to every group that asked.”

Andrij has proudly participated in Movember in the past. Around this time last year, his father successfully battled prostate cancer. “I know many aren’t as fortunate as him. I once heard a doctor say if men lived long enough, every one of them would in time develop Prostate Cancer.  We need to talk about it.  Men need to get examined.  We need to find a cure.”

The Other Half dubs them a lifestyle shop. Part of an all-encompassing “lifestyle” is a defined sense of social responsibility or consciousness around relevant issues. People can say that a cocktail or a certain style represents them, but being socially conscious is one of the clearest lifestyle choices you can make. HMM puts an emphasis on supporting small, local business in a socially and environmentally conscious way that rings authentic to their customer place.

Other Half likes to think that caring for the world and the people around them is evident in their product and their attempt to always go local when possible. They use their platform to carry products that aren’t mass produced by international corporations.

We look for products and companies that have personal family stories at their core, and small-scale manufacturers. We carry a brand of exclusive, game used sports memorabilia items (Tokens & Icons) which have been turned into wallets, watches, cufflinks, and bottle openers.  Based in California and still a small business, it started in 1991 with one recent college graduate’s vision and need for money to pay the bills.  Our bottle cap art and recycled beer candles come from a small business in Florida.  Our Toronto Communities line of recycled Glassware comes from a small business in Wisconsin.  The creator of our “Essence of Life” soy candles are an all natural, made in Canada product that stands up price wise against many of the large international companies while using local, sustainable environmentally conscious ingredients.” Our “Beer Soap” is made by a woman in High Park. “

In terms of being eco-friendly:” It’s not always easy or possible to find products that fit that description, but we look for it and are beyond excited when we find something special. We recently brought in Daneson Toothpicks.  Not only are they local to the GTA, but eco-consciousness is at the core of what they do. Our Walton Wood line of men’s grooming supplies similarly is made in Peterborough using all natural, sustainable products.”

Other Half Men’s Shoppe cares about the world from hands-on, tangible angles that really make a difference. Especially this year.

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