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This Vancouver soccer player launched a successful sustainable clothing brand at just 19

It's now stocked at Foot Locker.
This Vancouver sustainable streetwear brand was founded by a young soccer player and is now stocked at Foot Locker.

Young Vancouver entrepreneur Nicolas Budisa founded Our Block Clothing on the principles of community, collectiveness and respect.

The 21-year-old is now the youngest-ever designer to be stocked at Foot Locker.

"I was 19 when I launched Our Block Clothing in the summer of 2020," he explains. "I was playing soccer in Portugal when the COVID-19 lockdown forced me and the rest of the world to return home."

Upon coming back to Vancouver, he spent months training indoors and keeping himself busy before shifting his focus to working on the concept and name for a casual streetwear clothing brand. 

It took him three months of tireless effort every day but he launched Our Block with no prior experience in business, marketing, accounting, social media management, or graphic design, all of which Budisa says he has now been doing on a daily basis for the last two years. "I've also never been to a college course, had a mentor, or worked in a retail clothing shop," the entrepreneur adds.

Things really took off for Budisa when the Western Canada marketing manager of Foot Locker heard about Our Block and pitched it to the head of buying.

Before that, it hadn't occurred to Budisa to sell his brand business-to-business yet, it was still so new. Our Block has been stocked in local East Vancouver shops like Front Supply and Little Earth Children's Store but Budisa says "at the time, I was more focused on creating the brand identity and on increasing profit margins before reaching out to new stores as a vendor."

The brand identity has also always included sustainability, which, according to Budisa, was part of the ecosystem from day one. When sourcing clothing blanks from a manufacturer Budisa looks at the fabric quality, sustainability practices, colour options and styles available before selecting who to work with.

Perhaps that's why a year after launching, Budisa woke up to an email from the head buyer of Foot Locker. After a few introductory emails they were setting up a meeting to begin working on the first purchase order.

Citing the recent revolution in the fashion industry that finds consumers demanding more from brands, Budisa says, "social media pages and fashion blogs have been a great service in sharing news and facts about how bad fast fashion has been for the environment."

"It's not hard anymore to run a clothing brand in a sustainable way," he says.