“Buy less clothing” may seem like a contradictory statement, especially from a small clothing boutique, but Naj Peterson and Josh Chambers have made it their entire business model.
Peterson and Chambers founded Stomping Ground in 2016. Their storefront, located on the corner of Bank Street and First Avenue, features high-quality, sustainable apparel, grooming products and home goods.
By supporting sustainability first, Peterson and Chambers have been able to deliver high-quality products without sacrificing their personal values. Brands such as Portuguese Flannel, Ursa Major and Corridor pay living wages and actively take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
“I think that there is a shift happening where people are starting to appreciate authentic goods that might be made locally, that are better quality and they’re willing to pay more for it,” says Peterson.
Chambers explains how more brands have started including their sustainable practices in their marketing as a selling point. “In terms of the fashion world, I think that people are catching on, but it usually starts with the smaller brands first.”
Peterson and Chambers dedicate their time to researching brands and making sure that the items they stock are timeless both aesthetically and functionally. Chambers gives advice for learning more about a product. “I mean, look at your tags first and foremost. If you really want to investigate, you can search up the RN code for any garment made in the world, and that’ll tell you what the factory was, and then you can kind of do your own research based on that.”
For Peterson and Chambers, it was important to build their brand in Ottawa. “We’re both very proud to be from Ottawa,” says Peterson. “A lot of our peers moved to Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, New York and L.A. to pursue a career in this industry, and we wanted to stay in Ottawa. We want to help push the culture forward in Ottawa, and I think there’s something really special about being able to do that in your hometown.”
Community support is also an important aspect of Peterson and Chamber’s business model. Last year, Stomping Ground chose not to participate in any Black Friday promotions, instead deciding to incentivize sales by making a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank for each online purchase they received. “When you’re a brand, you have to stand for something, you have to be about something, and people can sense authenticity,” says Peterson. “We make decisions every day that we know in the short-run aren’t the best decisions for our bottom line in terms of profitability.”
Stomping Ground’s sustainable approach may not generate as much revenue as some commercial retailers, but Peterson believes that remaining faithful to their brand’s ethos is much more valuable than profit. “I don’t even really care about the financial implication long term. I think it’s just what helps me sleep at night knowing that I’m doing my part.”