(Michaela (Moe) McCormick and Grace Lachance have brought their strengths together to create a new clothing line – Collective Strength – with mental health in mind. They are supporting the Distress Centre of Ottawa with a donation from each of their made-to-order items sold. Photos: submitted)
Business partners Michaela McCormick and Grace Lachance are excited to have revamped their clothing brand, Collective Strength, to better reflect their purpose and showcase their passion for mental health awareness. The brand aims to make an impact by donating $1 from every item sold to the Distress Centre of Ottawa.
The origins of Collective Strength go back to last summer. Grace had created some merch to promote new music she was releasing, and Michaela (or Moe, as she is known to most) had helped with the designs. “We really enjoyed the process. Design became a shared interest of ours,” says Moe. Having been friends for a long time, the two thought it would be fun to turn their shared interest and passion into a goal-driven business.
Recently, Grace and Moe were looking for ways to improve their brand. This started with creating better quality products as well as getting clear on what they wanted to represent with their brand. Given the importance of mental health and its prevalence in both their lives, the business partners decided to incorporate their passion for mental health and their desire to raise awareness and give back. “In doing this, we wanted to take the opportunity to tell our own stories and share what inspired us to make these changes. For Grace, it is her life experience with mental health and how she has worked hard to overcome her own challenges. For Michaela, it is her passion to help others, her life experiences, and her volunteer experience as a crisis line responder at the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region,” Grace and Moe explain.
Although Moe and Grace recognize that Ottawa has a variety of mental health organizations carrying out very important work, Moe’s time volunteering with the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region (DCOR) is ultimately what drove the two to choose to donate to this organization specifically. “I know directly what impact the DCOR can have on people’s lives. The DCOR is an amazing non-profit organization that helps support people who feel like they have no one to turn to. They provide a 24-hour phone service as well as a text and chat service. Whether it is to talk things out with someone, to have someone listen and validate your feelings, or to receive resources that can help your situation, the distress centre is available to everyone. Grace and I believe accessibility to mental health services makes an important difference,” says Moe.
The Collective Strength clothing line features Moe and Grace’s own designs, and the products are all made-to-order to reduce waste. Both very creative individuals, the two get inspiration for their designs from everywhere and anywhere. Their design process can involve lots of consideration sometimes; “if one of us has a simple idea, we will feed off each other until we have refined the idea into a design we both love. It is quite a lengthy process sometimes and other times we are on the same page immediately.” The designers often find inspiration from nature, poetry, music, and fashion trends in particular. They would describe their clothes as “casual streetwear with bold and delicate touches. Alternating between neutral and colourful, the pieces are contemporary but classic. The clothes give a stylish, minimalist, fresh yet unique look.” Moe’s favourite products are the Mountain Peak crewneck, Changing Tides hoodie, and the Dualism crewneck. Grace’s favourites are the Mountain Peak crewneck and the Bear Cap. View the Collective Strength catalog here.
Aside from working together on Collective Strength, Moe and Grace both keep themselves busy with many other ventures. “I really enjoy photography, painting, cooking and gardening. I am currently working as an office administrator at a private psychology practice and just recently completed my private investigators course,” says Moe, while Grace says, “I am completing my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Ottawa in Political Science, and working in a student position for the government. I love to paint, travel, spend times with friends, shop and cook yummy meals.”
Visit the Collective Strength website to learn more about the brand, its purpose, and Moe and Grace’s personal stories.