Canadian brand highlights mental health with homegrown designs

For founder Jennifer St. John, the brand Marnie & Michael has always been about more than just cool, Canadian-made products.

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For founder Jennifer St. John, the brand Marnie & Michael has always been about more than just cool, Canadian-made products.

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Witnessing the effects of mental-health struggles firsthand, she wanted to create a company that could give back to and raise awareness for mental-health initiatives. Offering artisan backpacks, tote bags, agenda covers and more, the company donates a portion of sales to mental-health organizations.

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We caught up with St. John to learn more:

Q: For those who aren’t familiar, what is Marnie & Michael?

A: Marnie & Michael is a Canadian-made fashion apparel brand with a built-in mental health giveback.

Q: What makes it unique? 

A: We are 100 per cent Canadian. Every design is sketched out and developed in our Georgian Bay studio, produced in Ontario and shipped from our office. When we say locally made — we mean it. We are supporters of slow fashion, low inventory and a zero-waste policy. Due to (my) unique voice and experience with having a loved one with mental illness, we are strong advocates for honest conversations about mental health. We raise money for mental-health organizations and services with every purchase, and we continually share resources and information about mental health to our community.

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Q: Who is the target customer? 

A: Our savvy and discerning target customer appreciates quality over quantity, supports local Canadian brands, and seeks out timeless fashion pieces for longevity.

Q: What more can you share about how the brand supports mental health? 

A: We collaborate with organizations throughout the year during our high sale seasons to raise awareness and funds for their work. We highlight organizations and services throughout the year with our weekly blogs and also on our website. We also use our weekly blogs to talk about mental health on a regular basis — from tips on how to handle a stressful work day, all the way to personal journal entries from myself and my mom on our experiences with mental health. We have published a mini-memoir/guided journal with these entries as well, and we donate a copy of this book with each bag purchase to help illustrate the need for honest conversations around mental illness.

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Q: Is there a ‘hero’ design in the line? 

A: From our 2021 line, our ‘hero’ was definitely the Corie Crossbody bag. And from the 2022 Resilience line, the ‘hero’ is the Mady Sling Backpack.

Q: What is the price range for the products?

A: $100 to $500.

Q: And where can people check them out? 

A: There’s a list of retailers on our website Marnieandmichael.com and they can also purchase online through our site.

[email protected]


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