Yes, We Are Open!

Peace Collective

Episode Summary

We connected with the Peace Collective team about their journey from relative unknown to a Toronto staple worn by some of the city's biggest athletes and their fans. But hype doesn't always equal success during a pandemic, especially with sports on hold, so how did they pivot to get where they are today? Listen now to find out. You can find out even more about Peace Collective at

Episode Notes

We connected with the Peace Collective team about their journey from relative unknown to a Toronto staple worn by some of the city's biggest athletes and their fans. But hype doesn't always equal success during a pandemic, especially with sports on hold, so how did they pivot to get where they are today? Listen now to find out.

You can find out even more about Peace Collective at

If you're the owner of a small business in Canada and you'd like us to help tell your story, email us at

Yes, We Are Open is a Moneris Podcast Production hosted by Al Grego.

Listen to music from Season 1 on Spotify.

Episode Transcription

Al Grego:                            Hello everyone. I'm Al Grego, and this is the Yes, We Are Open podcast.

                                             Today, I'm in Union Station, Toronto, Canada's busiest transportation facility and the second busiest railway station in North America with over 72 million passengers each year. Built in 1927, the station plays stop to passenger and commuter trains, buses and the subway. Over 300,000 travelers move through the station every single day. Most of them, commuters. For 15 years, I was one of them, coming in every weekday from my home about an hour north of the city.

                                             Union Station today is very different from the one I began using all those years ago. The station has underwent a major $800 million renovation. This transformation has turned Union Station into one of the world's most engaging civic destinations according to the website and being here today, I can't really argue that it isn't an impressive space. Currently, I'm on the Front Street Promenade, street level, headed to today's destination, Peace Collective.

                                             I'm welcomed into the store by a sign on the window with the slogan, 'Home is Toronto'. This store certainly makes no secret of its allegiance. Everywhere I look are caps, T-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, and more with that slogan, or the slogan 'Toronto versus Everybody', or with Toronto sports team logos.

                                             Well, what's your name?

Terry:                                  My name is Terry and I'm the store manager for our Union Station location.

Al Grego:                            Very nice. How long you've been here?

Terry:                                  I've been with Peace Collective since 2017.

Al Grego:                            I'm sorry. Your name is?

Danique:                             My name is Danique.

Al Grego:                            How long have you been here?

Danique:                             I've been here for about, not even a year yet, actually.

Al Grego:                            Oh, very nice. Well, I mean, not a great time to start a retail career.

Danique:                             No, actually, I was hired at the Ossington location right before the last lockdown we had, so that was interesting. I didn't really get to practice my sales stuff, but now I'm at Union Station and lots of traffic here.

Al Grego:                            It's not a huge store, but it doesn't have to be because its genius is not only in the amount of foot traffic that passes their window every single day but also the kind of traffic they can get on days where there are sporting events. You see, Union Station is connected to the Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors. And it's only a few blocks away from the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays. If you're from out of town and you want to attend any major sporting event in Toronto, you're likely to go through Union Station.

Terry:                                  Right now, the Blue Jays have been really great having that collection. So again, Union was meant to always be a store that represents our fan collective collections. So showing off the Raptors, the Jays, some of our NHL when we have those things, like the new Hockey Night in Canada collection. And it's also morphed into being a little bit of a souvenir shop for tourists, so you'll get like the fun little things like the keychains, and these collector tees like the Home is Toronto's with the Honest Ed's and things like that.

Al Grego:                            Looking around the store, you can tell that it's certainly targeted at the Toronto sports fan, but then I turned around and notice another wall with a message that reads, 'Every purchase provides two healthy meals to a Canadian child in need.' To me, this makes them more than just a clothing store. This makes them a story worth telling. To tell it, I'll need to go for a bit of a drive.

                                             I've arrived at an industrial mall in Mississauga, literally minutes from Pearson International Airport. This is where I find the headquarters for Peace Collective. From the outside, there isn't much to look at, but when I enter the unit, it opens up to a pleasant, common space with tables and on two sides of the space are offices. This is where I meet Roman.

Roman Hessary:               My name is Roman Hessary. I'm one of the partners at Peace Collective. My title is the Head of Growth. I am primarily responsible for the brand's external relationships, whether those are licensing deals, retail distribution, or corporate partnerships, or brands to brand collaborations.

                                             Peace Collective started in the year 2014. Our founder, Yanal, he had the idea for the clothing line when he was in university. He had the name and this concept behind it. Myself and Yanal, we go back. We've been friends since grade 7 so a lot of years. 16, 17 years. After we were both done university, we tried a couple businesses together. They didn't really do that well. He had read a book by Blake Mycoskie. I think the title was 'Start Something That Matters'. And it's all about having a one-for-one model with your brand and how to make an impact with your company. And that's why Peace Collective from the beginning had the one-for-one model.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               So for every garment that we sold at the beginning, we used to donate to the World Food Programme. And then from there, it evolved through a few different charities to where we are now.

                                             Lisa, we met a year after we had the idea and we were working through it. She had some really great skills that me and Yanal didn't possess. She came from the retail world. She had a lot of operational skills that me and Yanal didn't have and she really helped take the brand to the next level.

                                             Initially, we were, all three of us were working our daytime jobs while doing this on the side. And then as the brand grew, we all took our turn to quit our full-time job and join the brand full-time.

Al Grego:                            So talk about those first, those early days. So 2014, you guys had this idea, you're going to do this. What was the first order of business? What did you have to do to start the business?

Roman Hessary:               So at the beginning, it was just all the idea and seeing how we can start designing a few different products. So we had designed a few different products, and then we did a little bit of a photo shoot. Everything was just new. There was not as many tutorials on how to do things now, so we just got to learn as you go. And then he learned a little bit of graphic design, a little bit of Photoshop, so that helped things out.

                                             And then, the importance of everything that we were doing was tied to Instagram. Instagram was a great platform to start your business and share that with the world. At the time, the feed was chronological, so it was really easy to get seen.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               You don't get lost in the noise. And it just started out as like having a really cool brand on Instagram that was aesthetically pleasing to the eye, that was really clean photography. The designs were minimal and just did really well on Instagram, and that's what really gave us the springboard to continuing to grow it.

Al Grego:                            Can you think of a time or a catalyst... Was there somebody who shared a post or something on Instagram that, holy crap, look at all the follows you just got?

Roman Hessary:               There was a time we were doing this and I remember me and Yanal were sitting in a Starbucks by our house, and we were thinking about quitting, because it wasn't really going as we had planned it, planned out. And we're just having conversations like, okay, this was just maybe one of those other ideas that we had that ran its course. But then as we were sitting there, blogTO shared an article, and I still remember it to this day, the headline was like 'Toronto T-shirt Brand Feeds Children' or something like that. And that article really blew up and it showcased one of our main designs. And it got a lot of visitors to the website...

Al Grego:                            Wow.

Roman Hessary:               ... A lot of followers on Instagram. And that was our big sales moment and that gave us the reassurance that, okay, hey, we're on the right track. We're doing something. This is a worthwhile idea.

                                             And then down the road was probably when we got to collaborate with lululemon. We initially did it on a small scale with their Toronto stores. It was just a more of a community thing that lululemon was doing and really helped us out. And then the Toronto collaboration did so well that lululemon's national Canadian office had reached out, and they wanted to do more of a national Canada-wide campaign. And then, them obviously posting and shouting us out on Instagram and shouting out the collab, and the collab did phenomenal. It sold out, I think, in the first day.

                                             But yeah, that was another really big moment and we got a lot of followers that day. It really grew the brand and really gave us legitimacy because we were partnering with a company like lululemon.

Al Grego:                            So, wait a minute. So you and your partner were meeting for drinks or a coffee, already thinking this, okay, it was a good try.

Roman Hessary:               Yeah.

Al Grego:                            It was a good run.

Roman Hessary:               It was a good run. Yeah.

Al Grego:                            And then this blogTO article comes out.

Roman Hessary:               It was crazy.

Al Grego:                            Wow.

Roman Hessary:               Honestly, I get goosebumps thinking about it, because it was, when you think about it, if that didn't happen at that point in time, Peace Collective wouldn't be where it is today.

                                             And then after the lululemon thing, I think what was really great was the viral moment we had with the Blue Jays.

Speaker 6:                          All eyes on the mound and the bearded Sam Dyson. Now he comes up. Kicks. The 1-1 pitch. Fly ball, deep left field. Yes, sir! There she goes!

Roman Hessary:               Jose Bautista did the bat flip and then wore our apparel afterwards to the press conferences and stuff like that. So that moment really went viral, and then everybody in the city was like, "Yo, where do I get that? Where do I get that stuff?"

Al Grego:                            So was he wearing it as just a fan of the brand or did you guys have a deal with him?

Roman Hessary:               Yanal had a contact. He was like, "Hey, I want to get the Blue Jays. Can you get me, what was it, 30 sweaters by this day?" And I do remember there was some hesitance on our part because we were like, "Yeah, right." But you got to have, those point in time, you got to take those chances. So we made the sweaters and we sent it out to them and it was just coincidental that the moment that they wore it was during that viral moment of the bat flip.

                                             It was to the point where Jose Bautista actually shouted out the company on his Instagram.

Al Grego:                            Wow.

Roman Hessary:               So shout out to him. That was, I guess, a very viral moment...

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               ... That a lot of people in Toronto who didn't know who we were, who might've just seen a sweater around...

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               ... They were like, "Oh, that's Peace Collective. Okay." And then we had more sales in that one day than we did in the entire year.

                                             We reached out to the Blue Jays to collaborate officially.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               Because it's like, hey, they were the players who were wearing this stuff. The fans want it, how do we get it into the stadium? That turned into a licensing deal with the MLB that led to our bread and butter, which is licensed products, which are these collabs that's really helped the brand grow over the years. And once we've locked down the MLB license, then the rest came very naturally. You're wearing a Raptors mask. When we had reached out with the Raptors to get a license with the NBA, sorry, they were already looking for us. They were like, "Hey, it's funny you guys reached out because we were going to reach out very soon."

                                             I think our niche and licensing, I don't think anyone is like us. I think there's been some other licensees that do similar things but for us, we've really been able to create fan apparel that can be worn to the game and away from the game. It's more modern. It's more fashionable. You want to showcase your pride in the Raptors or the Blue Jays, but you don't want to wear a big shirt with the big logo. You want to do it in something that's on trend.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               Something that you might wear to a night out with friends. So we carved out the ideation. That approach really helped us grow the licensing business and offer customers something that they weren't able to find in market.

                                             We have a really good supply chain. All of it's been vetted, audited. We have a really large corporate partners like you guys, McDonald's. Really big corporate clients that we've had to do, make sure that all of our factories are audited and up to all the standards. So we're proud to say that we're doing that as well. And then we've taken a big step towards sustainability. We've launched on-demand manufacturing for a lot of our garments. So we've built out an infrastructure where customers can buy a product and we can make it from scratch within three to six days.

Al Grego:                            Okay.

Roman Hessary:               So, that helps us reduce our carbon footprint. We don't have to produce as much waste. We don't have to guess if a product's going to sell. So that's, I think, been another one of our really competitive advantages in this field.

                                             Yeah, our first store was our Ossington flagship. We were selling thousands of dollars of product every week to stores on Queen Street. And we just thought, wait a minute, if there's so much demand on Queen Street, why don't we open our own store? We didn't want to just come out with the clothing store because I think that was easy. We want it to come out with a new concept that didn't really exist in Toronto that would drive a lot of media and hype and people wanting to come in. And so we decided to open Peace Treats, which was an over the top milkshake bar.

                                             We need something that's super Instagramable...

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               ... That people would want to come in and share their experience of being in a space. That leads me to my bigger point, that retail has to be experiential these days.

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               Can't just be a plain store. The Union Station store took a little bit of time to come together. We had signed a lease around the same time as when we had opened Ossington pretty early on. Then the company, the leasing company, they're called Bole, shout out to them, super awesome people. They reached out to us and they were like, "Hey, Union Station is transforming into this retail hub. We have a store for you." And for me, I used to work in the financial district...

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               ... So I knew how much foot traffic was there.

Al Grego:                            Right. You guys were part of the rejuvenation of Union Station.

Roman Hessary:               Yes. Yeah, we were the first, Front Street Promenade was the first a step in that and we were one of the first stores to open up. So I just jumped on that opportunity.

                                             I just bought into their vision. I'm like, "Dude, this is amazing". It fit in really well with what we're doing. We do sports license products, all the Blue Jays fans, the Rogers fans, the Leafs fans, they all go through there. So, that was a home run and that story is like, man, per square foot, the sales, we had some crazy, crazy days there. Obviously when the Raptors won the championship, having a store there was amazing, honestly. That's been a really great opportunity for us to be ingrained in the city and part of the city.

Al Grego:                            Up next, Peace Collective is the hot new brand in Toronto, thanks to some lucky breaks but a lot of hard work by its founders. They're growing fast and malls across the country are lined up to open their new locations. So why didn't they? We'll find out next.

                                             You're listening to Yes, We Are Open. Peace Collective founders Yanal, Roman and Lisa have created a great Canadian clothing brand that not only designs trendy clothing, they also give back to those less fortunate. Things seem to be going smoothly for the young brand, but then adversity hits.

                                             So the past seven years, if you were talking about a time or a challenge you guys faced that almost took you down, what would that be?

Roman Hessary:               Probably 2018. We were at the height of how many stores we had. We had the Union Station store, we had our Ossington store. We had just opened up a pop-up in Yorkdale and we had just opened up a pop-up in Square One. Business was really good, online was doing well. The stores were doing so well that we thought, hey, this is the model we want to chase. We want to be in all the malls. So at this point, because Yorkdale is so successful and Square One's so successful, we have all the different mall companies in Canada, Cadillac Fairview and the other big two, they were talking to us and wanting us to open all across Canada. And at that time we were like, yeah, makes sense. Why wouldn't we? The demand is there, we should, we have to devise a strategy on how we can do this. We have to create a playbook and really run with this.

                                             So that meant overextending ourselves in hiring really big roles that we probably weren't ready for to have in the company and trusting that those roles would translate into being able to expand like this. Obviously the expansion was not going to be overnight. So we took on the salaries, understanding that it's going to be a little bit of an investment until we get there but what happened was Yorkdale pop-up finished. It was successful as the Square One was going on. But then we started seeing little dips in sales when it came to Square One, when it came to Ossington and now our overhead had ballooned up really high. So we couldn't afford to see the slowdowns that we were seeing. We would have certain days where we would just break-even, or we'd be in the red.

                                             We were like, okay, let's just tough out this storm. There's a light at the end of the tunnel and we're going to expand...

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               ... And all this, there's going to be open but, for that type of move, what we were trying to do, you need millions in the bank. You need investment. You need to be able to burn cash and not really worry until you're back up and running and we weren't doing that.

Al Grego:                            What do you attribute the slowdown to? Was there any one thing that you could point at and say this is why?

Roman Hessary:               I think, we still guess to this day, I just think fashion is cyclical, right. When you're new and fresh in the malls, everyone's going to want to come visit because they want to see what you're all about. And we had a really cool concept because we had a milkshake bar in our store so we would used to get a lot of traction with that. But once that newness is gone and you're there for six months, you don't really have the traffic. Some fast fashion brands, people are going to continuously go to because they're able to price apparel and they have a model for it. We just didn't have the model for it, right. We weren't ready for that dip in sales and stuff.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               And then we started burning cash month after month with this big overhead. We'd grown so quickly and we'd brought on a lot of people and then when the revenue wasn't there to justify it, it started really hurting the business. And in a matter of, I'd say five to six months, we were in a really bad situation where we're, we could go belly up if we continue this.

Al Grego:                            How close did you guys get?

Roman Hessary:               I'd say pretty close. We had some really tough conversations. We definitely did some contingency planning. There was times where we didn't pay ourselves so that we can make payroll for everybody else. Just some difficult dark times, I would say, but we sat in a room and we figured it out.

                                             We got to the bottom of it and we just said, "Listen, we're an e-commerce brand. What do we do well?" We're able to market really well. We're able to really, in this new technological age, have a good brand presence online. Let's just focus on the good and have retail as a component of our business, not our main business.

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               We had transformed to make retail our main business where it was always e-commerce. That's how we started.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               That's where our bread and butter was. That's what we did really well. So once we went back to that and we made the decision to close down Square One and we just contracted a little bit, even with staffing. Consolidated the offices into the one office. That was not only just to get a bigger space, but it actually saved us a lot of costs. This office costs as much as our 2,000 or 3,000 square foot office downtown. And this is 12,000 square feet plus 3,000 up here. Obviously you're not going to get this value downtown.

                                             But that was a tough moment. So we contracted and we went back to our roots and we started just doing things again from the ground up and then looked at just revenue generating ideas. How can we generate more revenue as a business? And then a lot of that went into our digital marketing strategy and going on that side of the business. But then also, I think, what's born at that period of time was what many people don't know about, is we have a thriving corporate business where we work with a lot of different corporate clients. Whether it's on employee merch for their conventions, campaigns, we can offer. And that was also a different revenue source that didn't exist prior to that. So we've had to dig deep and look at all other areas in the business and now that's another thriving part of what we do at Peace Collective, is another subsidiary company, it's called 'Ready, Set, Go'. On the front end with Peace Collective, naturally, with all of our partnerships and everything like that. That just naturally brought us out of that hole.

Al Grego:                            So just to give an idea of the growth and then the contraction that happened, and we'll talk about what's happening now, but you guys started with two of you. At your height, how many people were in Peace Collective?

Roman Hessary:               This number is debated on a lot because when you count all the retail staff, I think we were close to 70, 80 people.

Al Grego:                            All right. Okay.

Roman Hessary:               So it was a lot of people, right.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               Because the retail stores would take a lot of staff, especially Square One in Yorkdale. They would have a lot of staff. Lisa says we were somewhere in the 90s, Yanal doesn't agree. I think we were definitely up there. Now, obviously, I know everybody in the company...

Al Grego:                            Sure.

Roman Hessary:               ... And we're a little bit smaller. We're about 30 people. It's a lot more manageable. We haven't even grown to that size again.

Al Grego:                            Right.

                                             Coming up after the break, we find out whether Roman, Yanal and Lisa's efforts to save their young business paid off.

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                                             Welcome back to Yes, We Are Open. With some great sacrifice and some strategic maneuvering, Yanal, Roman and Lisa were able to pivot and refocus Peace Collective's business model to more closely reflect what got them there in the beginning. Their online and social presence along with great design, of course. And not a moment too soon as the pandemic hit hard and many businesses were sent scrambling to get online. Peace Collective was already there and very comfortable in the space.

                                             All right. So you guys started in 2014, then you open up your first couple of stores in 2015-16, things were looking really good and you grow really quickly. And then you learn a lesson, a hard lesson, I guess. So now that you're forced to streamline, to become more efficient, the pandemic hits. How are you guys doing now?

Roman Hessary:               We're good now. I would say, I go back to the beginning of the pandemic, because I'm sure everybody was scrambling and for us to... Let me just paint a picture. So the year before the Raptors had won the NBA Championship...

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               ... We had this record year as a company in sales and everything. And we're gearing up for another really big year with the Raptors because they have a good team and all of our sports license products. We've invested so much in sports licensed products because we're going to have another really big year with that type of product.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               And then the pandemic hits and all the Leagues shut down.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               So there goes all of our collection plans out the window. We can't, it's tone deaf to be like, hey, here's a Raptors products and people are staying in their house and stuff like that. So it was definitely scary at first. Had to shut down this office, everybody went remote and then it just went into, me and my partners, we just started just getting into a room and like, okay, what do we do? How do we pivot from here? And I'll credit Yanal, very early on, and this is our suppliers locally in Canada, we have some really, really good suppliers and they're super on the ball. We had collections planned out with them and they said, and when we had to cancel those collections, they came back to the table and they were like, "Why don't you guys create face masks?"

                                             And this was before people, face masks are not even mandated. Go back to like March 2020, nobody's wearing face masks at this point.

Al Grego:                            Yeah. So this is you guys being innovative?

Roman Hessary:               This is us being innovative. So we're like, hey, let's go more into loungewear because now everyone's working from home.

Al Grego:                            Good.

Roman Hessary:               Let's come out with matching face masks to our sweatsuits and run with that. And honesty was another home run.

                                             With every product that we launch, we always have a good, we always try to give back and with the face masks, obviously a lot of money going to COVID-19 relief.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               Directing our donations to food banks, a lot of that stuff. And yeah, it just carried us, it carried us throughout. We definitely didn't hit the numbers we were going to hit, maybe, that we were projecting with the sport licensed products, but it came real close to that. It did really well.

                                             Then afterwards it was just, naturally, the sports license, the sports leagues opened up. So we started being able to do some of those things. I don't think we recovered 100% because we had a big business with a wholesale business with teams, with...

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               ... People going to stadium with us being carried in team shops and stuff like that. So that part of the business, that wholesales side of the business hasn't really recovered yet, but we grew a lot. And I think a lot of e-commerce companies can say this, that we grew a lot on the, during the pandemic because people were just generally shifting from buying in-store to buying online because they just didn't have a choice.

Al Grego:                            And you guys we're already set up for that.

Roman Hessary:               Yeah. We were just set up. Right place, right time. I think, as an entrepreneur, that's one thing I've learned. You just got to be prepared for your moment. If you are in the right place at the right time and you're prepared to capitalize, then that's when you're going to have the best success. So for us, I think just sticking true to our industry and our core competencies in doing what we're doing and then our moment came when we were ready to come to the table with the masks, with sweatsuits. And that did really well for us as a brand.

Al Grego:                            Can you talk a little bit about some of the things that came out of 2020? PC Designer Fund and the PC Community Fund?

Roman Hessary:               Oh, yeah. Yeah. Both amazing programs that we are still running to this day that have evolved a little bit. So obviously, 2020 was just not only the pandemic, but we saw a lot of really social injustices going on with respect to the African-American community and the whole BLM movement. And as a brand, you know, I'm proud to say that our leadership team and everybody at the company, we're all from different cultures and background and races and stuff like that and not many people might know that, right. I'm from Afghanistan and you know what's going on there right now.

Al Grego:                            Oh, wow. Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               Yanal's from Palestine, Lisa's Vietnamese. So when a lot of these things happen to other minorities, it does strike a chord with us. And it's amazing that we have the platform to do something about it. And so when all that stuff happened and maybe other brands were too timid to do anything, we're like, okay, we're going to take action, what can we do?

                                             But we still had to stay in our lane. We're not going to do something that's not natural to us. So we're like, let's create the PC Designer Fund, which has giving black artists and creators a platform to design products and sell products.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               Not only to further their business, but also give back to the charities that matter to them.

Al Grego:                            Right.

Roman Hessary:               And the Designer Fund was the same thing.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               We were just funding that process and that has now evolved into the Peace Market. Now it's open to all creators from all different backgrounds and races and communities and they're able to come on and use our platform to launch their products. To not only help kickstart their business, but also give back to the causes that matter most to them.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               And we've had some really great participants on that this year already.

Al Grego:                            So let's talk about outlook. Feels like we're coming out of the pandemic slowly but surely, hopefully. You've mentioned that you are opening. Do you have plans to open another store? It's going to open soon? So, what does the future look like for the Peace Collective?

Roman Hessary:               Yes, we are going to open another store. For those of you who don't know, we closed our Ossington flagship. I think we had a great run in Ossington, but another opportunity presented itself that we couldn't turn down. Everybody, I think, at this point, knows. I'm happy to share it. We're going to be opening a store in the Distillery District. So it's going to be smack dab right there.

Al Grego:                            Yeah.

Roman Hessary:               Right when the Christmas market's happening, close to the Christmas tree. So we've got a really good space there, really big and we're going to be doing another one of a kind concept in there. I don't want to share too much about that, but you guys are going to have to wait and see.

                                             So that's it on of the retail side of things, and then we're going to continue to grow on the online side, still continue to do what we're doing, I think. We have four really strong product lines that we continuously release product around. We have a really good give-backs that we have going on in, we have our North Star goal as a company, which is to raise a million dollars for the causes and charities that our communities care about by the year 2030.

Al Grego:                            And how, can you update us?

Roman Hessary:               Sure. So I think we, I think the goal launched last year, and we're pretty much close to $200,000 or a little bit over $150,000. So we're tracking to almost double.

Al Grego:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roman Hessary:               So we should, if we're going the way that we're going, we should be able to donate $2 million by the year 2030. So, that feels really good. I'm ecstatic about the relationship that we have with Moneris. I think there's a lot of different fronts that we work together on and it's great to have a corporate partner that it's a really reciprocal relationship. You guys not only provide us the tools that we need to be successful in what we're doing, but also support us when it comes to all the different initiatives and programs that we do have. So we really appreciate it.

Al Grego:                            That's the story of Peace Collective. It'd be easy to describe their initial rise as pure luck and being in the right place at the right time. When you think back to that blogTO article or lululemon or the bat-flip, but I don't really believe in luck. Roman philosopher Seneca is credited as saying "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." I'd like to think that those opportunities were going to happen anyway. If Peace Collective weren't prepared for them, someone else would have reaped those benefits and the fact that they were able to weather the storm of their initial success to have such a positive outlook today, that is a bigger testament to the idea and people behind Peace Collective. I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

                                             Yes, We Are Open is a Moneris podcast production. I'd like to thank Roman Hessary and the rest of the folks at Peace Collective for taking the time to share their story. You can learn more about Peace Collective at You can also like or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where they're @peacecollective. For more information about this podcast, visit our site If you'd like to support us, rate us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. If you're a Canadian small business owner or know of one with an interesting story of perseverance to tell, I'd love to help tell it. You can contact me at Tune in next week for another story of small business struggle and survival on the Yes, We Are Open Podcast. I'm Al Grego. Thank you for listening!