Madison and Lisa Fleischer, co-owners of the X-Treme Clothing Boutique in Tsawwassen, B.C., launched the “Slava Sweatshirts” line shortly after the war began.
They say they were inspired by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s daily video addresses to the nation, some of them filmed in the streets of Kyiv despite the threat of Russian attacks.
“He’s so brave, and the people are so brave, and we are cut from that stock,” said Lisa, whose family has ties to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. “So we’re going to help.”
It was Zelenskyy’s sign-off at the end of those videos — “Slava Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine” — that sparked Madison’s first design.
Future designs would include one inspired by what were once thought to be the last words of Ukrainian soldiers to a Russian naval vessel who attacked Snake Island early in the war: “Russia warship, go f— yourself.”
Another design urges, “Fight like a Ukrainian,” with a tractor seen towing a tank.
Other than printing and manufacturing costs, all proceeds from the sale of the shirts and other items go toward the Ukrainian Humanitarian Crisis Appeal and the National Ukrainian Bank.
“I thought, maybe I should put together some designs, see what happens, if there’s a demand,” Madison said.
Within weeks, sales took off, making it difficult for the Fleischers to keep up with all the orders that have come in from around the world. The line has already raised thousands of dollars for their cause.
Sales have also been high after the X-Treme Clothing Boutique began selling them in-store just over a week ago.
“To be honest, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” Madison said.
“The biggest thing is just spreading more word about the cause.”
The duo are keeping production costs low by holding an open call for printers in order to get the most money possible from each order for donation.
“The better pricing we can get, the more we can give,” Lisa said.
“We will do whatever we can to get money to Ukraine.”