Biz X Magazine July / August 2011 : Page 14

NAME: Andrew Banar, creator of Group Hug Apparel GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: “Learning to read. It really is the foundation to all of my great personal achievements.” SECRET-TO-SUCCESS: “I really do appreciate every single customer and every single sale. We will drive across the county to deliver 12 shirts or just one. It’s all about the simplicity of the underlying message: to keep going, to be strong – “Rock On.” Pe o p l e Pr o f i l e CITY SMILES Story By Lisa Rene-de-Cotret Illustration By Steven Johnson ndrew Banar is working towards his goal of raising money for college – and he is going about it in a unique way. Andrew and his family are the founders of a home-based business, Group Hug Apparel. It was the suggestion of the family that Andrew use his art as a way of raising money, and help the community at the same time. According to his mother Karen Pickle, ambition seems to be her son’s middle name. “I want to study, music, drama, cooking and first aid,” claims the designer. “I love playing the drums, and really love to listen to Green Day.” Just barely 19, Banar’s T-shirt designs have caught the attention of Walmart and a few other places in Leamington, Ontario. His stick figure designs feature a person with a drumstick in each hand and two drums, with the words “Rock On.” The T-shirt designs have now expanded to other neat items like tote bags, aprons, hoodies and Onesies. It’s a simple design that is tugging at the heart strings of local citizens. The company (website: www.grouphugapparel.com) started two years ago. “So far we have raised enough money for me to go to college for one year,” explains Banar. The entrepreneur has special needs, however, through the encourage-ment of his family he lives a normal life. “Yes there are special issues, but we are very passionate about giving Andrew those quintessential life experiences that many of us take for granted, such as college,” expresses Pickle. Recently Banar was asked to sell his T-shirt designs at the annual Jeff Burrows T2B Drum-a-thon. “It was a thrill,” says Banar. Just like other generous organizations, Banar donates a portion of his T-shirt sales to other groups that need financial assistance. “We donate to many different charities, including: W.E. Care For Kids, Community Living Essex County, Children’s Miracle Network, The Children’s Health Foundation, The Children’s Aid Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Windsor Regional Hospital, Transition To Betterness, the Kingsville Food Bank, and others,” claims Banar. Over the past two years he has donated over $5,000. The reason Banar gives back is because he has endured the direct developmental challenges of Down syndrome, as well as the many associated health implications. “We have had and continue to receive, great support from various groups, hospitals, and the greater community,” tells Banar. “This has instilled in me the importance of giving back wherever we can.” X A 14 BIZ X MAGAZINE • JULY/AUGUST 2011

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