Skip to content

Women and Girls: Women leading sustainability (12 photos)

Thunder Bay sisters are changing the face of sustainable clothing practices in our community.

Bree and Hailey Hollinsworth have a lot on their plate and so much to be proud of.

Since launching Ungalli Clothing Co. in 2013, the two sisters from Thunder Bay have built a place for makers and creators and lead the way for sustainable clothing practices.

Working in a uniform manufacturing warehouse in the summers while attending school, with Bree working in screen printing and embroidery and Hailey working in sales, they both discovered the mass amounts of waste these large manufacturers create with overseas production and shipping.

“We saw first-hand the impacts of the clothing industry,” says Hailey Hollinsworth. As someone who grew up on a farm in Thunder Bay, seeing this firsthand really impacted them.

After discovering fabric made from recycled water bottles, the sisters started printing designs and Ungalli was born.

Sitting at the table

After being accepted into an accelerator program, the sisters won a Top 30 Under 30 award for Sustainability Leadership in Canada and received the Quest Climate Grant from Canadian Geographic Magazine.

By travelling and attending conferences and start-up workshops, mostly in Toronto, Bree and Hailey let them know that, even though Thunder Bay is a small city, women entrepreneurs from Northwestern Ontario deserve a seat at the table.

With this success, they have taken this philosophy and their achievements and put them back into the community.

At the beginning of COVID-19, Bree and Hailey started making masks through their manufacturer in Toronto, turning over 75 per cent - 80 per cent of their production completely to face masks, getting them through the pandemic and with their store being closed for the last year, they launched the Local Collective online last week. With 50 vendors in their store, all local entrepreneurs, this is an exciting step in their entrepreneurial growth within the community.

“The community in Thunder Bay, especially the female entrepreneurs and the female creatives, we all really support each other and cheer each other on and help each other and it’s a really close-knit community. It’s a really special part about Thunder Bay,” says Hailey Hollinsworth.

What the Hollinsworth sisters are doing for the community of Thunder Bay is not only seen in their brick-and-mortar success and online growth, but also in their support of women entrepreneurs throughout Thunder Bay.

Perseverance and partnership

While it’s been a challenging year for small business owners, last week Ungalli announced the recipient of their $500 Support the Makers Grant along with seven local vendors that will now be showcased in the retail store.

“A lot of my closest friends are other women who own business in Thunder Bay and we do so many collaborations and we nurture each other, we really help each other and make sure we’re good examples and role models for the younger generation,” Hailey says.

Along with giving back, the sisters are also expanding their sustainable and custom merchandise. Partnering with Superior Screen Printing, Ungalli is opening a bigger warehouse facility downtown with their storefront attached.

While growing a small business is no easy feat, Bree and Hailey Hollinsworth have taken what they know, learned from what they create and presented opportunities for those following in their footsteps.

With budding growth on the horizon, the Hollinsworth sisters are leading by example for women entrepreneurs and being the example of women supporting women.