There are thousands of health-care professionals working tirelessly around the country in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As they put their wellbeing on the line each day while many of us are just trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix to pass the time, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t doing enough to help. That’s why Emma May, the founder of Calgary brand SophieGrace, decided to design a limited-edition collection of t-shirts to celebrate Canada’s “public health heroines,” who are leading the efforts to fight the coronavirus across the country.
Designed in collaboration with her friends, artist Mandy Stobo of @badportraits and Sarah Elder-Chamanara of the feminist fashion line Madame Premier, 100% of the proceeds from sales of the three shirts will go to charities that support food security around the country (Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Fresh Routes in Calgary, and Second Harvest in Toronto). The shirts feature Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the Chief Medical Officers of British Columbia and Alberta respectively, and Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
“Our social duty is to stay home and do nothing, which is great, but for a lot of us we think, How else can I contribute?,” says May, who has been following Hinshaw “religiously.” “So, this was about honouring these three women who have been the pinnacles of hope we look to everyday that Canadians really trust.”
Hinshaw has been updating the province on the impact of coronavirus (Alberta now has 358 reported COVID-19 cases and two deaths) and she has gained quite the following in the process. So, when May saw her friend Stobo’s illustration of Hinshaw on Instagram, she immediately shared it. May’s line, SophieGrace, typically focuses on women’s workwear (sales have declined in the wake of the pandemic) and she names dresses after women the brand admires. When her followers suggested naming a dress after Hinshaw, May got the idea for the shirts.
Since May and her collaborators are practising social distancing, the partnership happened over phone, text, and email. “Seeing these incredible women of science help guide and calm us through these unprecedented times inspired us to do something to help,” May says.
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