Norm Kelly, who in the last year or so has become a bit of a Twitter phenom, has been using his celebrity status for good.
Most recently, the Scarborough-Agincourt city councillor partnered up with Peace Collective, a Leslieville-based apparel company founded by King-Bathurst residents Yanal Dhailieh and Lisa Diep, to raise funds for WoodGreen Community Services’ Newcomer Youth Settlement Program, which provides counseling, groups programs, workshops, an art club, sports events and trips for youth age 13 to 24.
It started late last year when the year-and-a-half-old “lifestyle brand with a philanthropic drive and civic pride engrained within its design” approached Kelly about working together on an exclusive limited edition “capsule collection” where 100 per cent of the proceeds would be directed to charity.
During a recent interview, Kelly, who has been recently approached by three or four apparel companies to use his name and likeness, said he’s happy to work with Peace Collective as they have a serious marketing plan and are experienced in actually putting out a clothing line, not to mention the charitable component of what they do.
“I’m really grateful I’ve been able to direct a fair chunk of money to charities and organizations in Toronto,” said Kelly, who left the design of his namesake apparel line in Peace Collective’s hands.
“I’m hoping it sells out quickly and (Peace Collective) produces another run.”
The Norm Kelly capsule collection coincides with the launch of Peace Collective’s new video series, Canadian Built.
For Canadian Built, Kelly spent a few “freezing winter” days filming at various locations around town including the Toronto Islands, on the ferry, inside and outside Toronto City Hall, C Lounge, and Scarborough’s Guild Inn. What has resulted is a 5:31 clip that gives viewers an inside look into Kelly’s busy life, his work, his high-profile friendships, and his feuds and passions.
The aim of this project, which was officially launched March 28 and features Kelly in its first episode, is to highlight influential Canadians and inspire the community by sharing their story and perspective of what home means to them.
“Our goal is to create a platform to inspire the community and to showcase amazing individuals from very different industries,” John Molina, Peace Collective PR/marketing director.
Kelly, who has 279,000-plus Twitter followers, said he would never have guessed he’d be so influential on social media when he first created his Twitter account just under six years ago.
“When I started Tweeting I couldn’t have told you what a successful Twitter account would look like,” he said.
A career politician who previous worked as a grad school professor and a high school teacher, Kelly said he welcomes the connections he’s made as of late with the social-media savvy types.
“I always enjoyed my time teaching young people. It was a positive experience,” said Kelly, who is also affectionately known as The 6dad.
“Twitter has reintroduced me to the younger crowd. … This reconnection has delighted me.”
Kelly went on to say that he admires the millennial generation.
“They’re going to face a very challenging world, far more than my generation did,” he said, adding he admires today’s youth for their flexibility, faith in themselves and their entrepreneurial spirit.
“They’re the leaders of tomorrow and I’m so pleased I’ve been able to engage them.”