East Coast Lifestyle, based in Nova Scotia, is expanding and building its first headquarters in Bayer’s Lake, Halifax.
The CEO of East Coast Lifestyle, Alex MacLean, started the company in 2013 studying at Acadia University. One of his classes focused on creating a design representing the East Coast. With an $800 loan from his father, MacLean was able to buy and design blue hoodies to sell to his friends, family, and people around his school.
“The goal was to only sell thirty hoodies”, MacLean said. But these thirty hoodies turned into the East Coast Lifestyle Brand. After the first hoodies sold, MacLean used the money to buy sixty more, and then 100 more. Suddenly Sydney Crosby asked for a hoodie, and it was a steep climb from there.
“The brand took off like wildfire, “says MacLean. “It was just a steep incline and I had to learn a lot of things on the fly. I was literally having to order hundreds of hoodies. This gave me the opportunity to really put more money into the clothing brand and try different colour hoodies and shirts.”
With Sydney Crosby wearing the logo and national news attention, MacLean had a lot to learn – and quickly. One of the challenges was to find a trademark lawyer so he could secure the East Coast Lifestyle logo.
“We were really getting knocked off by dozens and dozens of people after Sydney Crosby and the news interview,” says MacLean. “People were doing Newfoundland Lifestyle, New Brunswick Lifestyle, Alberta Lifestyle, there was even an E Coast Lifestyle with a piece of toast in the middle, there was everything you can think of.”
With the protection of the trademark, MacLean was able to secure his brand and logo which has since come a long way from just being a class assignment and will be celebrating their 10thanniversary next year.
During Covid-19, East Coast Lifestyle started new projects such as expanding the brand to include alcoholic beverages and chips. So far MacLean says they have sold over 600,000 bags of chips in just over a year, and they are all made locally in New Brunswick.
“East Coast Lifestyle got into 2,000 new stores across Canada, but not with shirts and hoodies, it was with chips,” says MacLean. “It allowed us to sell a lot more clothing because the brand went through the roof with all these new stores.”
The biggest development is the new headquarters for East Coast Lifestyle that will be breaking ground at the end of this month. It will be located on Bayer’s Lake and on the number one bike path in Nova Scotia – the BLT Rails to Trails.
Customers will be able to enjoy the new development as in addition to the main store, it will include a basketball court, a coffee shop, East Coast beverages, picnic tables, and they are “going to make it a very inviting and a hopeful destination for people,” says MacLean.
Being Proud of Where you are From
“The whole premise of the brand was about being proud of where you are from,” says MacLean. “Nobody had really branded the East Coast at all in terms of clothing. There is a lot of Nova Scotia shirts or Newfoundland shirts, but there was really nothing for the East Coast.”
As a sports fan, MacLean wanted to create a brand people could be proud of, just like a sports team has their fan logo – MacLean wanted a logo that represents the East Coast.
“In the East Coast there is no professional hockey teams, basketball teams, football teams, soccer teams, and we don’t have a logo where we can all wear and represent,” says MacLean. “I wanted to create a brand that allowed all four Atlantic Canada provinces to really represent where they are from proudly.”
Awards, 13 and Counting
East Coast Lifestyle has won 13 awards since starting in 2013.
The awards include Student Entrepreneur National Winner in 2014, EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, Start Up Canada High Growth Award in 2016, Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO, and just recently MacLean also won the Go Daddy Entrepreneur of the Year in Canada.
“Some of those awards have given me my favourite moments so far, like going to the White House to meet Barack Obama,” says MacLean.
MacLean was at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards where he was the 1st Runner Up. He got the attention of President Barack Obama and was invited to the White House along with members of Shark Tank.
“It was crazy, I was 22 years old, and I was the only Canadian who got to go down. Just being in the White House was neat, the whole experience was very surreal. I was very young and just in shock the whole time,” says MacLean.
What is next for East Coast Lifestyle?
In addition to the new store development, MacLean says East Coast Lifestyle has recently released its Bauer hockey collection which includes hoodies, shirts, hats, and a duffle bag.
East Coast Lifestyle will also be releasing a golf collection this summer and customers can expect to see it in stores in about two weeks.
“Our focus is bringing to life new products and exciting people and keeping people off their toes so definitely keep your eye out for new products,” says MacLean.
As for expanding the brand, they are going to focus on brining stores to the East Coast of the United States. They will also be looking to expand throughout Canada by adding a store to a new province each year.
The best thing that has happened with the brand, MacLean said, is how the logo connects the East Coast community, no matter where you are.
“We hear a ton of cool stories about people who have met people because of what they are wearing, the East Coast Lifestyle, and it is fun,” says MacLean. “It is my favourite part because everyone usually has a good story about when they had a hoodie on somewhere and someone started a conversation, like that is really cool to hear.”
Thankfully for East Coasters, MacLean did not stop after receiving a passing grade. Everyone can enjoy the logo and can now represent the East Coast throughout the world!