Abu Sayed does not mess around. But then he’s never really had the opportunity to. Arriving in Newfoundland from Bangladesh in 2013, he’s faced many challenges building a new life in Canada.
“I don’t think there is anything more stressful than the early experiences of being a refugee or immigrant in a new country,” he tells me as we sit at Rocket Bakery talking .
He hit the ground running, working at Peters Pizza while learning English. He’d been in pharmacy at home and had dreams of doing something big and meaningful here. In October of 2016, armed with a small bundle of investment money and a lot of determination, he started Wildhood clothing, a casual athletic wear company specializing in hoodies, tank tops, and t-shirts.
I’ve worked before with refugees and immigrants and one thing I hear often on their path to success is that “although this country seems so much richer, I had to find what it was that my country offered that was not found here, and offer it as my niche.” Sayed repeats this.
“Being from Bangladesh, my country is known for clothing export. I found a factory at home that had good labour standards and fair pay to produce the garments at a good price to me, and with a high quality standard.”
He says he has friends still living in that area,who can keep an eye on things to make sure the good labour standards and quality assurance are upheld.
So what is Wildhood all about? Sayed envisions a Canada-wide, and hopefully world wide venture that celebrates diversity and freedom. The styles are meant to be ready for any adventure, yet still chic and stylish, and he pays attention to small details to ensure this.
The name was inspired by the woods of Newfoundland, of which he says “I had never seen anything like this before,” but translates easily for sales all over Canada. He’s already selling as far away as BC.
“We all die someday,” Sayed says, “and what we do in our lives matters. I’ve made many mistakes learning how to run a clothing company, but I think I can offer something special.” His message and his shirts both seem pretty special to me, and what Newfoundlander doesn’t need a new hoodie for summer evenings?