MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As bonfire weather sets in, most Minnesotans are bound to grab a sweatshirt at some point in the next few months.
One local company, Hoodies for Good, is trying to capitalize on that in a different way.
It’s what the father-son duo of Jeff and Mike Polis is doing behind the scenes that make them Minnesotans to Meet.
It’s a main street Hopkins shop, making good one hood at a time.
“We have a very small operation,” co-founder, Mike Polis, said.
Polis founded Hoodies for Good along with his dad, Jeff.
The custom apparel brand is printed and pressed right in a basement room. While their logo loosely resembles their first product, a hooded sweatshirt, the company now makes hats, shirts and even something for the little ones.
The idea came to Mike while driving home on a cold winter day.
“I saw a couple of people downtown, it was one of the usual really cold days, and they only had on a long sleeve T-shirts. On the drive home, it really was hitting me pretty hard thinking people don’t have enough warm clothes,” Mike said.
Since then this father-son duo has teamed up one garment at a time to help fight homelessness across the state.
Ten percent of the gross profits is donated to YouthLink and Dakota Woodlands.
“Obviously homelessness is a very large thing, and we’re only doing a small part of it. You’d like to be able to help any way you can. But if people can get behind something that personally has affected them…and homelessness is something everyone sees every day. Everybody sees it,” Mike said.
Jeff, who has a business background, said he was sold after his son’s first call with the idea.
“I was like, ‘Yes!’ And I didn’t know how we were going to do it, or what we were going to do or how we were going to present ourselves, but I just knew I absolutely wanted to be on board,” Jeff said.
Jeff comes from the restaurant franchise business and said he and Mike each bring a different tool to the table.
“Mike went to school for marketing. And he is a lot younger than me, so the social media thing is really [in his court.] He could probably go off for 10 minutes in jokes about me and my social media skills,” Jeff said. “I’m kind of the old school face-to-face, want to get out and meet people.”
While the operation is full steam ahead, Jeff and Mike said they don’t mind the long hours.
“It’s almost like we are at home but we’re at work. And we’re just having fun and we know we’re doing good,” Jeff said.
Originally when Mike first launched the company about a year ago, he intended for it to be a “buy one, give one” concept like we see with other companies – TOMS, Warby Parker or, locally, “Love Your Melon.”
But he said he soon realized that families’ needs change throughout the year, and rather than giving them a sweatshirt they wanted to be able to give those in need the ability to get whatever they needed most.