The Bigger Picture
November 17, 2011
By Alexandra DeLory
Meet 19 year old Stouffvillian, Jared Henriques, a graduate of Stouffville High School, involved with the Youth Group at Springvale Baptist Church and the founder of Pocket Change Apparel; a clothing company that is setting out to fight consumerism, inspire others and transform the lives of children around the world.
"I guess it was the desire for social justice that inspired me to begin Pocket Change." Said Henriques when asked why he began his clothing line Pocket Change Apparel.
In 2008, Henriques attended a conference where a child sponsorship organization called Compassion had many other people of his age signing up to sponsor less fortunate children around the world.
At that time Henriques knew he didn’t have the money to sponsor a child and wondered how else he could help.
After his first encounter with Compassion Henriques began wondering what teenagers like him do spend their money on. He quickly came to the conclusion that music, entertainment and clothing were it.
Knowing that these were the markets he could reach his peers through, he calculated his competency in each, noting that he couldn’t sing and definitely couldn’t act, clothing was left the victor.
Henriques’ next thought…
Why don’t I start a clothing company where I control what happens with the profits? Therefore whether the consumer wants it to or not, the profits will go toward sponsoring a child somewhere in the world.
As he was a just mere 16 year old dude, Henrique didn’t think much of his plan.
He briefly mentioned it to his parents, who seemed to think that it was a great idea. He gained a little bit of confidence. He continued to tell others and to his surprise everyone encouraged him.
I should do it.
Henriques soon began putting some designs together under a couple other names. As with most start-ups he ran into a few setbacks and decided that it just wasn’t meant to be.
Henriques abandoned his plans and applied to become an engineering major in University.
Once accepted to his University program he was done with clothing and ready to start pursuing a new path. However, shortly after his academic adventure began, Henriques was once again contemplating the vision that had gripped him just a year earlier.
Daydreaming in class he came up with a name. The name was "Pocket Change." He spent all of his physics, calculus, algebra and programming classes trying to design a logo.
Henriques told a bunch of friends about his vision and together they brainstormed for a slogan: "turning money into love." The logo design was now clear, a dollar sign turning into a heart.
Now Pocket Change Apparel had a name, a slogan and an inspired logo; the next step was an organization to support. The initial idea had been sparked by Compassion, so Henriques decided to start there.
He recalled having acquired the email address of someone who worked in Compassion Canada’s office. It was just someone who worked the phones, but it was an in.
He wrote her and explained what he was looking to do and she loved it, she forwarded the information to the people that she thought could help.
The waiting game began…
Shortly thereafter Henriques scored a meeting with a couple of Compassion's executives and presented his idea.
"When I showed up they were definitely surprised to see a 17 year-old guy walk in, and were even more surprised once they heard our idea. Compassion was in and now I had to do it." Recalls Henriques of the meeting that changed his life.
"Since then we have been doing great! We officially launched our website and shirt sales on May 1st 2010. We have come such a long way since then." Pocket Change Apparel has now started manufacturing their own custom tees and hoodies right here in Toronto.
They are also currently looking to cultivate further their initial inspiration: share love, transform lives, and foster generosity through the creation of a program for entrepreneurial youth with other inspired ideas.
The program would enable others to utilize the resources and guidance that Pocket Change has come across in their journey.
There is a lot of exciting stuff on the way for Pocket Change, a company that has grown right out of the beautiful mind of a young Stouffvillian.
The company has already developed quite a bit of success locally and is looking to expand quite drastically in the near future.
"We are hoping to have a presence in several independent skateshops in the GTA, but we will always have our online store for sure." Said Henriques of their next steps.
When asked how he measures success, Henriques explained that Pocket Change likes to "measure success by how many people we inspire to live differently."
The Five Year Plan
In 5 years Henriques would love to be doing this on a full time basis…
"To be able to tour across North America trying to inspire youth to share love with their communities and live with a generous attitude. Product wise we are going to be continuing to expand our "Cut & Sew" model, introduce a full women's line, and grow our menswear line."
Advice from Henriques to others hoping to change the status quo
1. Planning and Patience
One of the things I continually have to relearn is the importance of planning and taking your time. We all have good ideas that could potentially turn into a successful business, but the ones that actually do in the end are a result of planning and patience.
2. A Support System and Strong Team
Major set backs are unavoidable and as a student it would mainly be a lack of time and financial resources. Being a student and the company acting as a non-profit doesn't leave a lot of room to make the money needed to finance such a large scale operation.
Luckily we are overcoming these setbacks thanks to our supporters who volunteer their time and are happy just living out our vision first hand.
As we have progressed the workload has been increasing and it has forced us to expand our team to help with some of the workload. Pocket Change’s main team consists of Ben, Dustin and Ross. These guys help me do everything from daily decisions to managing the website.
3. The Internet
The Internet is such an accessible and widespread resource that we can reach anyone and everyone at minimal to no cost.