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3 Local Toronto Businesses Leading with Innovation

Here are the stories behind three local Toronto businesses whose innovations are helping Torontonians all over. Show your appreciation and give them a visit this fall.

Futuristic depiction of downtown Toronto

Toronto is a city that inspires many worldwide. From being one of the most diverse cities in the world, to having some of the most beautiful architecture, to being the birthplace of some of the world’s biggest musicians, one thing is clear about our city… we’re innovators. And while it’s true that just by being ourselves each of us uniquely contributes to this innovation, it’s important to recognize some of our local businesses that are leading the way with their new products and new approaches. In celebration of our city's innovation, we at T.D.T Entertainment & Media want to highlight the stories of three of the local businesses that are leading us into the future. Enjoy.

Frank And Oak

Frank And Oak Storefront

Frank And Oak started with two people who had a mission to create an apparel brand that would speak to a new generation of creatives and entrepreneurs. They quickly became a local favourite. People recognized the creativity in their designs and appreciated the comfort their clothing provided. But over time the people at Frank And Oak recognized the need to become something more than just another clothing brand. They didn’t just want to have meaning, they wanted to have impact. Fast-forward and Frank And Oak has turned themselves into the national leader for sustainable fashion. Nowadays, everything produced by Frank And Oak is “Made to Inspire Better Living.” In a time in which a collective carelessness towards climate change has sparked climate disasters all over the world, especially in Canada, Frank And Oak has continued to dedicate itself to reducing the carbon footprint with sustainable practices while making trendy and functional clothing that keep people looking and feeling amazing. Supporting them doesn’t just mean helping yourself, it means helping the planet you walk on, and the future generations who will walk on it after you’re gone.

We believe that Frank And Oak will be a case study for many of the successful clothing brands in the future. They don’t just talk about sustainability, they act. Showing all clothing brands in the process what is necessary if we want to protect our livelihood. They track the fabric that all their products are made with, ensuring that they use sustainable materials as much as possible. In fact, 100% of Frank And Oak products in 2023 were made with mostly sustainable fabrics, and it doesn’t just stop there. They prioritize making clothing that’s recyclable and doesn’t end up in landfills. They only work with suppliers who pass international environmental standards. They’ve started using electric vehicles to make deliveries in major Canadian cities. They regularly donate to initiatives that replant grasslands, protect wildlife, and provide food to starving families. Frank And Oak is a certified beneficial corporation (B Corp), a designation that’s extremely difficult for retail companies to achieve. It’s clear that they care about creating a better world for us all and that they’re innovators for clothing companies all over the world.

As people continue to follow their lead, Frank And Oak is growing rapidly. You can expect to see more Frank And Oak stores in Toronto, Montreal, and possibly the East Coast. They’re focused on perfecting their practices, cuts, and styles before they take their mission worldwide. Give them a visit in the Eaton Centre, Don Mills, or in the Queen West neighborhood at 735 Queen St W.

Red Bear Outdoors

Red Bear Outdoors is owned by a group of lifelong campers who’re making camping more comfortable for the Toronto folk who’re hesitant to give it a try. Personally and professionally, we at T.D.T have found that many Torontonians are intrigued at the idea of disappearing into nature for a weekend. At the same time however, we’re city people, we’re scared to venture off into the unknown or we simply don’t know where to start. The good people at Red Bear Outdoors have introduced new camping products into the Toronto market to alleviate many of these common concerns.

We spoke to Mike, one of the company's owners, to get a better sense of what makes camping so special and how Red Bear Outdoors is helping people have more amazing experiences. Mike is a pro when it comes to camping. He started going with a friend years ago and has gone on dozens of trips pushing himself to the limit by going to more and more isolated places each time.

“There’s a certain freedom to it. It’s just you and nature. You find yourself surrounded by fire, trees, and peace,” Mike said when describing the camping experience. He thinks it’s something that everyone should try in their life. And while Mike is a pro, he did have some advice for first-time campers, telling us that they should, “Start off easy and comfortable. Start with car camping in one of Ontario’s many provincial parks. Don’t be afraid of it, just do something basic and simple and you won’t forget it.” Providing more access and education towards car camping is one of the ways Red Bear Outdoors has led the way with innovation. When Red Bear Outdoors started, almost nobody in Ontario was selling rooftop tents. These are tents that go on top of your car, providing more comfort than the usual ground camper would experience. Red Bear Outdoors has been a pioneer in popularizing these products throughout Ontario over the past 6 years. The company has gone from a passion project in which its owners would meet up with prospective customers and display tents to them in an empty parking lot, to an industry leader that provides the best camping products and advice that you could offer.

It’s clear to us that Mike and the entire Red Bear Outdoors team is passionate about helping people. They give people honest advice, and they’ll answer any questions you might have about camping, customer or not. There’s frankly nobody more trustworthy to help you begin or continue your camping journey.

Red Bear Outdoors is expanding fast. They already have a showroom in the Keele and St Claire area, and you can expect them to open a few more in the near future. If you’re someone who’s thought about camping before, whether you want to buy, rent, or just get some honest advice, Red Bear Outdoors is the perfect place to get into contact with. Give them a visit at 55 McCormack St.

Made You Look

Woman walking through Made You Look's Jewelry Display

Made You Look is the most fun and unique jewelry spot in the city because it features designs from a multitude of minds that each have their own creative vision. Made You Look was started by Sarah over 20 years ago when she was only 23 years old, fresh out of the jewelry arts program at George Brown college. Sarah recognized a major problem in the jewelry industry when she started Made You Look… making jewelry is hard! How does a new jewelry graduate move forward without access to the industrial equipment necessary to succeed? Before Sarah, so many jewelers faced this daunting challenge all on their own. They had the creativity to make beautiful designs that deserved to be loved and cherished by people all over the city, but they didn’t have a facility to do so or a gallery to show off their work. Today, Made You Look acts as a store that represents over 100 local jewelry designers and as a manufacturing facility that provides 20 self-employed jewelers with the ability to make their work right on site.

Made You Look acts as an innovator in the jewelry space because it continues to modernize its approach, acting as a leader that many other jewelry businesses try to emulate. One thing we at T.D.T love about Made You Look is that it has something for everyone. It recognizes that jewelry is such an important part of the human story that it shouldn't be restricted to a certain style or reserved for a certain class of wealth. Made You Look has all sorts of intricate designs at extremely flexible price points. Whether you’re looking to get something fun and small for $10 or looking to immortalize your love for your partner with something worth 10 thousand, Made You Look has something for you. We love that they don’t make anybody have to pay to come through the door. They’re truly a people-first business that’s trying to bring joy to its community. Speaking to Sarah we see exactly why Made You Look is the way it is. She’s passionate about the symbolism and history of jewelry, and she wants to add to its history and make the impact of it resonate more with the people in our city. Visiting Made You Look you can expect a vibrant and welcoming space, you’ll feel the creativity, passion, and excitement the second you walk in, the environment will make you look around everywhere in awe, and you’ll walk out with exactly what you were looking for or something you didn’t expect.

Made You Look will be launching an online store soon to make their one-of-a-kind designs more accessible to people who aren’t fortunate enough to give them a visit. If you live in the city, checking out Made You Look is an experience you can’t miss. Find them right in the Parkdale area at 1338 Queen St W.

Closing Off

Frank And Oak, Red Bear Outdoors, and Made You Look are all businesses that are leading the way in their respective niches. Their teams are made of enthusiastic individuals who love what they do and want to help Torontonians and eventually, the world at large. They represent the best that our city has to offer. Let’s continue to celebrate their stories and the stories of all the other local business owners who make Toronto so innovative.


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