Keeping it Canadian – Diversity and All
Redwood Classics Apparel is an Immigrant Success Story
Kathy Cheng, President, WS & Co. immigrated to Canada with her father, Chak Wai Cheng and her family from Hong Kong in 1978 with the common goal of many immigrants – create a better life in this country. The family opened a homegrown textile factory in 1988 and today their garment manufacturing company, WS & Co. is one of Canada’s leading full-service apparel manufacturers. The company has produced items for renowned fashion retailers and designer brands both domestically and internationally.
In addition to her role as President, WS & Co., Kathy is also founder of its in-stock promotional apparel line, Redwood Classics (Toronto, Ontario). It is her work with WS & Co. and Redwood Classics that led to her being named one of 13 winners of the 2014 class of EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women. The competition and ongoing executive leadership program identifies a select group of women entrepreneurs yearly.
“It’s an honour to be recognized, but an even bigger honour to have the opportunity to give back to the country that has supported my family and I,” says Cheng. “We are one of the few suppliers that still offer made in Canada apparel. All of our products are domestically produced and support an ethical supply chain.”
Redwood Classics’ mandate to keep production in Canada includes creating jobs that give back to the community. Many of Redwood Classics’ skilled employees are immigrants themselves.
“We are committed to diversity in our workforce,” says Cheng. “We are in the position now to give the same opportunities we had, to our team. We want to help them promote their own skills and help them to live the Canadian dream.”
Suppliers like Redwood Classics who are committed to diversity are better able to work with like-minded corporations through organizations such as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC). CAMSC delivers programs and processes to promote and facilitate procurement opportunities between major corporations in Canada and suppliers of all sizes owned and operated by Canadian Aboriginals and minorities.
Working with CAMSC, Redwood Classics was able to become a certified supplier (CAMSC certification verifies suppliers that are majority owned by Aboriginals or minorities and provide the products/services outlined in supplier profiles).
“As a CAMSC certified supplier, Redwood Classics has been given exposure and market-access opportunities to numerous national and global corporations,” says Cheng. “Partners recognize the work it takes to obtain CAMSC certification, so there is an immediate built-in trust that comes along with the seal. When we obtained that seal, it felt like I was receiving my Canadian citizenship again. It’s an honour for my entire family to be recognized that way.”
Through an elite distribution channel, including branded merchandise experts and fellow CAMSC members like Accolade Promotion Group (APG), Redwood Classics was able to secure contracts with CAMSC corporate members and sponsors who have supplier diversity mandates such as BMO, TD Canada Trust and RBC. Corporations with Supplier Diversity programs who select Redwood Classics Apparel products with their procurement budgets are able to count this as a diversity spend.
“Having the ability to present to our corporate clients products that are not only made in Canada but also CAMSC certified helps to directly support our commitment to meet their diversity mandates. We share in Redwood Classic Apparel’s mission to give back to Canada and Canadians by supplying their homegrown products to our clients.” says Steve Pons, VP Sales of Accolade Promotion Group (APG).
“In the garment manufacturing industry, it can be difficult to compete against off-shore producers that offer lower prices,” adds Cheng. “Having CAMSC’s seal of approval allows Redwood Classics to compete in a market that allows us to demonstrate the added value of choosing a made in Canada product. This helps us create more homegrown opportunities and expand our customer base.”
About Redwood Classics Apparel
For three generations, Redwood Classics Apparel has strived to provide customers with the highest quality of garment manufacturing available to the North American market. Offering an endless array of decorating, design, and customization possibilities, our dedication to craftsmanship and service excellence produces a truly Canadian product that customers can be proud of. Visit www.redwoodclassicsapparel.net for more details.
About Accolade Promotion Group (APG)
As an unprecedented 11-time winner of the Distributor of the Year Award by the Promotional Products Professionals of Canada (PPPC), and the highest-ranking Canadian distributor on the North American Top 40 list, it is no surprise that some of the world’s best-known brands trust APG to design and deliver their promotional merchandise solutions. APG’s capabilities in designing and executing one-off custom orders, as well as developing and supporting full-scale National programs with e-commerce and fulfillment capabilities, has lead them to be recognized as Canada’s industry leaders. APG is a division of Golf Town, and is wholly owned by OMERS Private Equity. Please visit www.accoladepg.com for more information.