Find Your Balance With Good + Hec
Only a few years ago you might have looked at Chris Hecimovich and not have seen much in common between him living life mindfully vs him living life in AutoPilot mode. He was very different. As they say though, life happens and transformations occur. I met Chris earlier in 2014 when he and some contractors were in the first stage of development for a line to create a brand of athletic meets street wear for the urban man. Chris, in true entrepreneurial style, decided to chase it down. He has now launched Good+Hec, a Canadian brand offering Canadian made garments designed for movement and well being. This is just part 1 of a multi-year plan to be a lifestyle brand for body, mind and urban movement. He plans to cater to companies who care about their employee’s overall wellbeing.
In this #stmINTERVIEWED we talk with Chris about his personal transformation, what the initial process was like to launch the collection and how clothing is only the beginning for Good+Hec.
I don’t really think of this brand as a fashion brand/label…
STM – What were you doing before you started Good+Hec?
Chris – I was a Sales and Marketing executive in the Hi-Tech industry for years. I was living a pretty fast paced and stressful life down in the US for the past 15 years. I had sort of a “come to Jesus” about 18 months ago where I looked at my life and asked myself if I was happy. I was making a lot of money, but I was drinking too much, completely disconnected from family and friends because work was all I did and it consumed my life. I was not happy, and I had no balance.
Chris Hecimovich. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hecimovich
So in Feb of 2014 I quit it all and had no idea what I was going to do. I went to Greece and took some time to think about what was next. I started to practice yoga and meditation a lot more and that’s how I met a community of people that inspired me to dig deep, face my fears of cashing in my life savings and following my heart.
…fear got the best of me…
I tried to walk away from that same career back in 2010 when I had quit my job in New York City and went backpacking for 14 months, however, fear got the best of me, and when I came back to Toronto, I immediately went back to a job that I no longer had passion for. Money was my only motivator for going back then, and knowing what I know now, money just isn’t worth getting up everyday to do something I am not connected to.
I am a certified Yoga Teacher but it is Mindfulness Meditation and the science that supports using this approach as a way to lead a life that is more full, clear, creative and happy. You will see GOOD+HEC evolve very much into a brand that encapsulates the wholeness of health through body and mind movement.
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Tell me about what you are launching with.
Chris – We are launching with clothing that will set the brand tone for who we are – high-quality fabrics and sewn right here in Toronto. At launch we’ve introduced men’s movement garments (stuff suitable for the gym, Yoga, crossfit, rock climbing) that is also multi-functional so it can be dressed up to wear out in your urban life …. it suits the “ath-leisure” trend that is happening right now. The MIND collection is accessories for personal mindfulness practice.
Not everyone wants to wear gear for their movement activity that feels synthetic.
Everything we release from a clothing perspective will relate back to Movement – even our denim has stretch. We want everything to be comfortable and high quality.
We don’t really think of ourselves as a fashion brand/label or fashion designers by any means, but we do have a keen sense of the type of fabrics we love and the type of items that we want to wear in our everyday urban lifestyle.
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Who do you ultimately design for?
Chris – At launch we designed primarily for men (professionals over the age of 25) because we saw the need in the market for an alternative to movement apparel that wasn’t made from hi-tech fabrics. Not everyone wants to wear gear for their movement activity that feels synthetic. When you buy a GOOD+HEC piece you can wear it to your movement activity of choice but it can also be dressed up to wear out in your everyday urban environment. We started with men because that’s the market we know most, but we will release some movement pieces for women in 2016, which will help us align with our corporate strategy that we’ll pursue in late 2016 and early 2017.
…and it cost us a lot of money.
Our stuff isn’t cheap so the fact that it has enough design detail and is made from high-quality fabric means you can get a multi-functional garment, something you can wear in many different scenarios.
Behind the scenes of Good+Hec’s launch collection photo shoot. Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Your brand has three pillars, Body Movement, Mind Movement and Urban Movement. Can you explain each a little?
Chris – At the end of the day, we aspire to be a movement brand that inspires people to obtain their own optimal well being by moving their body, understanding their minds and connecting with some sort of community. Our tag line is “FIND YOUR BALANCE” – what this statement means to each person will vary. We all have things in life that we’re constantly trying to keep in balance.
Body Movement – is essentially our term to describe physical activity – whatever your movement activity of choice might be. Our shorts are the signature piece here, so you can wear them for Body movement but you can also dress them up to wear out and about in the city.
I think we can be bold enough to say that everyone at some point or another has dealt with anxiety or depression.
Mind Movement –I am a daily meditator, or at least every other day. Most people think that meditation is a religious or a spiritual thing. I guess it can be if you want it to be, but for us, moving your mind to a place of stillness, always letting go of thoughts and being aware of them is essentially a movement practice in itself. We could go on and on about the benefits of meditation, but at the end of the day, we see daily mind movement as important as daily body movement.
Urban Movement – is about getting outside to meet and participate in the world. Loving where you live, connecting with others who have shared interests. Wellbeing is also about connection to other people as well and feeling like you belong.
Behind the scenes of Good+Hec’s launch collection photo shoot at Bang Fitness.
Photo courtesy Good+Hec.
STM – What are some of the special design details you have worked into your first collection to help you stand out from other brands and what are their benefits?
Chris – We started out really thinking we would design just for Yoga but as we researched and dove more into what guys had to choose from, other movement activities like weight training, jogging, rock climbing, crossfit came in to the design principles. Anything you wear for Body Movement, can also be dressed up for Urban Movement. That’s paramount for what we want our brand to be known for.
…it comes down to supporting our local economy…
The shorts have gussets for roomier movement, they are leaner fitting in the leg giving some style when you want to dress them up. They all have faux flies and the pockets resemble a denim piece, again, allowing the garments to be work all day long – during a workout or out in the community you live in.
Chris Hecimovich (left) doing Yoga. Photo: Breathe Yoga Studio
STM – Who has been really helpful during your start up/launch phase? What did they do for you?
Chris – Our production partners really helped steer us and I believe were very fair and honest helping us make certain decisions that could keep the price down of production. Our pattern makers – Pigeons and Threads really helped to take our concepts to pattern – we spent nearly 6 months working with them on the pieces through many fittings, etc. They were awesome to work with.
Companies should stand for something and give something back.
And ALSO Collective, our digital agency went over and above helping us get a professional looking website launched and helping us through lots of brand identity exercises to help us establish the tone we wanted to convey.
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – What were some of the challenges, surprises, learnings you have experienced along the way while launching your brand?
Chris – We didn’t factor in enough testing time for one of our pieces and it cost us a lot of money. Originally we had liners in two styles of our shorts and we didn’t properly test the fit of them in various movement activity prior to signing off and going to production. After we received the final product, we had to actually cut out all the liners to over 500 shorts and have them resewn – this cost us a lot of time and money.
We have limited Canadian suppliers for denim – both fabric sourcing and production.
The american dollar gained like 15% in a matter of weeks so our budget for some of our cotton was impacted significantly. Also – we underestimated all the things that needed to happen for the launch of an e-store – models, shoots, messaging, inventory, pricing, etc. We have learned so much!
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Currently you offer a kneeling pad and meditation bench, are there other types of accessories you want to expand into?
Chris – At this point, we want to round out the meditation accessory offerings a bit more, but the benches and mats will be our staple accessories. We will be forging technology partnerships in 2016 within the Mindfulness community. Perhaps at some point we will add accessories like hats or gloves to our body and urban collection, but nothing is on the horizon yet.
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Why is having your garments made in Canada important to you?
Chris – I think at one time it would have been a true statement to simply talk about quality and that Made in Canada meant a higher quality garment. But if you find the right overseas manufacturer, a garment can be produced with every bit the quality as if it were sewn in Canada.
Trust us, we get the implications of making such a statement…
So, for us, it comes down to supporting our local economy, having the ability to actually meet the people sewing our garments so we know when you put a pair of our shorts on that they were sewn by someone who is paid a fair wage and is working in a safe environment. This industry is one of the worst offenders for environmental emission caused by long distance international shipping, so being locally made reduces our impact. We are 15 miles away from our factory and most of our fabric is milled here or comes from the USA.
And, at the end of the day, there are so many talented folks in Toronto to help us take this vision to reality – that in itself is awesome to be able to leverage.
Photo courtesy of Good+Hec.
STM – Tell us about your ‘Three Percent’ commitment and why you chose to give back in this way.
Chris – Like we’ve said a few times so far, our brand is about optimal well being. And we believe wellbeing needs to be looked at holistically from a physical, mental and community perspective. I think in today’s day and age, companies should stand for something and give something back. For us, we want to align ourselves with mental well being.
We all have things in life that we’re constantly trying to keep in balance.
Mental wellbeing is a very real struggle for a lot of people – I think we can be bold enough to say that everyone at some point or another has dealt with anxiety or depression. We all have ups and downs in life and by making a commitment to be aligned with mental health, we have a vision of getting people talking about that. At movement – for your body, mind and community connection is a recipe to help achieve a path to optimal well being.
Stella’s Place, our first donor partner, are doing amazing things with their efforts to open a center in 2016 for young adults with lived experience of mental health issues.
Behind the scenes of Good+Hec’s launch collection photo shoot. Photo courtesy ALSO Collective.
STM – What are your long-term goals with Good+Hec?
Chris – We truly want to be a lifestyle brand – for body, mind and urban movement. Trust us, we get the implications of making such a statement – a lifestyle brand is a huge commitment, but we intend to do a lot more than just clothing.
You’ll note on our website that we offer the concept of the office pop-up where a “sponsor” can contact GOOD+HEC for a “conference room pop up”. We will bring the product to corporate clients. Over the long term, we want to establish relationships with our corporate clients to introduce corporate mindfulness programs, retreats and workshops. Relating back to optimal well being, when we sign a new corporate client – the employees will choose a movement outfit for body and one of our community mind experts will facilitate a corporate mindfulness workshop within the context of specific business processes.
This will all unveil itself over the next 6 – 18months. We have an aggressive plan and vision that takes a look at well being from the perspective of body, mind and urban movement.
When not working on Good+Hec, Chris enjoys a variety of movement activities including running outside, weight training and group meditation. And of course, he follows this up by eating out in Toronto’s West end at hot spots such as Bar Raval on College Street or BQM on Ossington Street.
Tag along with GOOD+HEC on the journey by following Good+Hec on twitter: @goodandhec, instagram: @goodandhec, facebook:/goodandhec. Then head over to www.goodandhec.com to see the full collection to help you “FIND YOUR BALANCE.”