A GLANMIRE family has launched a new online leisurewear company with a simple message of spreading kindness, and giving back.
Called ‘Be Kind Apparel’, it’s the brainchild of brothers Gregg and Eric Frost and Eric’s wife Aga.
The three all come from different professional backgrounds – Gregg is an amateur artist, Eric works in mental health supporting individuals to source employment, and Aga works for Deloitte as part of their audit administrative team.
But it’s their shared desire to highlight the power of kindness and its positive impact on people’s mental health that has seen them launch the business.
The starting point came about during Covid.
“At the time, Eric and I were still living at home. We were watching the news in the middle of another lockdown and were moved by what we saw,” explained Gregg.
“As a society, we were being really kind to one another. We were actively looking out for those who were the most vulnerable in our communities. We saw people delivering groceries to the elderly, and calling in to their neighbours just to make sure they were OK.
“As horrible and as tragic as Covid was, it was bringing out the best in us. We smiled at one another, we acknowledged one another’s shared experience, we pulled together, we applauded healthcare workers, thanked supermarket staff, we did what we could to keep others safe. We were kind to one another and we wanted to encourage this kindness long after Covid had passed,” he said.
The brothers wanted to create a brand to highlight kindness and decency and also to encourage people to include little gestures of kindness into their day; things like a smile, or holding a door open for someone.
Gregg knows from his own struggles how something so simple can mean so much, in low moments. He’s experienced hopelessness and loneliness throughout his life which he attributes to his weight.
“Being judged for my weight is one of the biggest things that brings me down,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been battling against my weight my entire life and I know loads of people will just say, if it means that much to me to stop eating and exercise. Anyone who ever says this to an overweight person has no idea about our struggles. It’s an addiction just like any other but instead of drugs or alcohol it’s with food. And like every addiction out there it’s incredibly difficult to stop, particularly when you’ve spent much of your life feeding that addiction,” he honestly says.
But positive interactions – something as simple as someone thanking him for letting them go ahead of him in the supermarket queue, for example – can be enough to spur him on.
“For me, this is the small moment where the person sees past my weight, it’s a tiny moment of kindness, an acknowledgment of who you are.
"All of a sudden, you feel like you’ve done a nice thing, that literally cost you nothing, and that’s the message that we are trying to get out there,” he says.
The business has also committed to giving back to charities and has pledged to donate 5% of profits to worthy causes.
“To begin with, we’re going to support Pieta House, Cork Simon Community and Barnardos.
“As well as this, we’re currently working on a kindness workshop that we’d like to introduce to primary schools next year. The aim of these workshops would be to encourage children to consider how they can be kind to others and hopefully promote a culture of kindness in the classroom,” said Gregg.
Everything about the business also has a local and sustainable focus, with most of the hoodies, t-shirts and sweaters made from recycled materials.
“Our products have a very long life cycle and should reach vintage status in our customer’s wardrobes.
"As well as the clothing range, 100% recycled tote bags and water bottles made from recycled materials are just some of these potential product additions.
“Our packaging is also both recyclable and made from recycled materials,” he said.
The trio also practice what they preach.
“We really try hard to make those small but significant changes that add up to a lot. We recycle as much as we possibly can, limit water usage to avoid waste, walk instead of driving where we can, limit our electricity usage as much as possible, and unplugging the TV and computer when we’re done with them,” said Gregg.
The trio insist they’re not trying to ‘change the world or start a movement’.
“It’s simple: every time someone buys our clothing, they become ambassadors for our brand and help us spread the message of ‘BeKind’.