COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – During this pandemic, local apparel company Homage is making money while also making a difference.
“If you know a lot about retail history in Columbus, there’s kind of this adage of doing good while doing well,” said Homage founder Ryan Vesler. “And so that’s something that’s always inspired me since the beginning.”
Since 2007, Vesler has turned Homage into a company with shirts focused on sports and pop culture, but he has also found ways to raise money for non-profits through the sales of shirts that come with a message and meaning.
“When you launch a shirt, you really don’t know the impact it’s going to have. We think maybe you’ll raise a couple thousand dollars but sometimes something just takes off,” said Vesler.
This past March, Homage released the “Not All Heroes Wear Capes” shirt in recognition of the medical community on the frontlines of the pandemic. Proceeds of the shirt were donated to the Huckleberry House, an organization that works with Central Ohio youth and families dealing with abuse, violence, poverty, and homelessness. So far, that shirt alone has raised more than $60,000.
“We have an opportunity to unite people and to inspire people. And I think when the pandemic hit, it was kind of how can we take the power of our brand and turn it into something even greater,” said Vesler.
In fact, Homage has released more than a dozen shirts to help raise money for charities like the American Red Cross, Ohio Nurses Association Foundation and other Covid-relief efforts. Since mid-March, Homage has raised nearly $200,000.
“Homage would not be where it is without the support of the people,” said Vesler. “There’s a lot of pride and a lot of support for homage so I’m so grateful and always will continue to give back when we can.”
This week, Homage released four more shirts to raise money for local organizations. Shirts that will benefit the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, Besa, and a very special one in honor of deaf interpreter Marla Berkowitz. It spells out hope and proceeds for the shirt will go toward Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere, a non-profit organization that serves Ohio’s deaf community in response to trauma and crime victimization.