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Victoria business students’ e-commerce initiative funds wildfire relief

Royal Roads trio selling eco-friendly tote bags and T-shirts to help those in need
Royal Roads University business students will raise funds for B.C. wildfire relief efforts by selling eco-friendly tote bags and T-shirts via their new e-commerce store, Shop Solidarity. (Black Press Media file photo)

Three business students at Royal Roads University are launching an e-commerce store aimed at raising funds and promoting solidarity for communities impacted by the B.C. wildfires.

E-commerce retailer Shop Solidarity, which funds social causes by selling sustainable apparel products, was co-founded by business students Wayson Yan, Madelaine Lavis and Christie Wilson and will raise money for the Canadian Red Cross’s wildfire appeal fund by selling eco-friendly tote bags and T-shirts.

RELATED READ: Wildfires force thousands to evacuate, highways to close across B.C. Interior

“I remember going on trips up to the interior, and just thinking of what they’re going through there now really hit home for me,” Lavis, a Victorian, told Black Press Media. “I just figured this was a great opportunity to help.”

Yan, Lavis and Wilson initially teamed up on the enterprise to satisfy the hands-on e-commerce project component of their two-year hybrid degree program at Royal Roads. Collaborating entirely online, the group ended up choosing to pursue a venture that would help those in immediate need and spread a visual message with something that supporters could carry with them, with Yan specifically suggesting tote bag and T-shirt sales.

“I am passionate about this store because we have the opportunity to help our communities thrive through difficult times,” said Lavis in a statement. “Shop Solidarity is bridging the gap that the pandemic created and reuniting people in different communities by supporting causes that are relevant to the present moment.”

Lavis said they hope to raise at least $1,000 during the one month they are given to run their initiative, adding that they have already made some organic sales and took only one week to plan their joint business model.

“We really believe that every small purchase like this can make a difference, even if it’s just raising awareness,” said Medicine Hat resident Wilson. “That’s what really keeps us going for this venture.”

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