Anyone who has dealt with Nichola Petts, even briefly, would agree that “kindness” is a pretty good adjective to describe her. And that was before she decided to launch Kindness Only.
Like many journalists, I initially encountered Nichola as a public relations professional — someone who helps pitch story ideas and bring credible sources into the coverage you see in newspapers and magazines. I also knew her as a fellow parent, but then, not long ago, I saw on LinkedIn that she had taken on another role — founder of a direct-to-consumer brand that would confront the dangers of child abuse head-on.
Kindness Only’s initial collection includes a line of T-shirts and hoodies with simple, bold colours and mottos that convey messages both positive and universal. This includes the company name but also “Kindness Rules” and “It’s Nice To Be Kind.”
When I understood the purpose and mission behind Nichola’s side hustle, I knew two things would happen right away. First, I had to buy some shirts for my wife and myself. Second, I had to bring this story to as wide an audience as possible.
Menswhere: To the extent you’re comfortable, can you talk at all about the original incident or impetus for creating this line of clothing?
Nichola Petts: About a year ago, I had a life-changing experience when I witnessed a young boy being abused by his caregiver in my neighbourhood (I live in Toronto). I had a visceral reaction to what I saw yet noticed that no one on the street came out to see what the noise was, or see if they could help. I had a few sleepless nights and decided I needed to do something to help. (I couldn’t get the little boy out of my head.) So I did some research and learned that you have a legal duty to report child abuse and so, I did. I also got to work on this brand to help raise awareness about this very important issue. I’d love to see an army of kindness crusaders out in the world – people who are committed to living and leading with kindness, and looking out for the safety and well-being of children everywhere. Putting that statement on clothing is a really direct way to do that.
Menswhere: Why create an online store and apparel as a response to what you experienced? Why did this feel like the right thing to do?
NP: Sure, making a donation to an organization that helps abused kids is great. What’s better and much more impactful is to create more of a ripple effect, getting more people on board who are committed to reporting child abuse if and when they see it, to look out for childrens’ safety and well-being (which ultimately makes a better community/country/world for all of us), and to living and leading with kindness. People love to advertise their favourite bands and brands and political views on their clothing because they want others to notice. I thought this was a great way to spread the message in a fun yet meaningful way.
Menswhere: How did you decide on the symbol of the hands for the shirt and what would you like it to symbolize?
NP: I see the symbol in the Kindness Only logo to represent helping hands, or offering a hand to raise you up. For someone who has been physically abused, hands can sometimes work to hurt or cause harm, I wanted to turn that idea on its head and show hands that are there to help.
Menswhere: Although this is unisex apparel, what do you think it says for men to wear Kindness Only clothing and to support this kind of brand?
NP: Let’s be honest: a man who is kind and has a social conscience, while being bold enough to showcase these parts of himself is damn sexy. It exudes a beautiful depth of personality along with confidence. Hell yes. [My fiancé wears his Kindness shirt with pride and it’s a turn on, for sure.]
Menswhere: What plans, if any, do you have to expand what’s offered under Kindness Only, or to grow it (even if it’s in partnership with other organizations)?
NP: I know I’m in the beginning stages of this brand, but in the future I want to see this brand as often as I see a Nike swoosh. I’m looking at adding other apparel items into the mix (adult face masks, hats, pants, kids’ shirts and hats) and am completely open to partnering with other brands whose philosophies match nicely. I see the brand also touching on other areas of assistance for abuse victims – meditation groups, wellness retreats, family coaching and counselling, daycare facilities for kids in need, and so much more.