If you’ve ever been in a small town or grew up in one, you’ll know that there is a strong sense of pride that radiates from the townlines and beyond. You know, the strong sense of community, the immediate helping hands who are always ready to assist, and the great people and businesses that come from within. You also know that if you move out of the small town that seems almost unrecognizable on a map, the world is much different than imaginable.
Opportunities often change our life’s path, and the unexpected outcome can lead to beautiful things; but no matter where we go geographically, our small town passion and values always remain a driving source in our success. Country Liberty is no exception.
It’s not very often that teenagers or young adults get the opportunity to live their dream and move across the world to pursue their passion. It’s even more rare that young adults find continued success connected to their dream that ended years earlier. But, for Sawyer Hannay, he found great success in both.
After moving to Austria to pursue his hockey career at age 19, the small town Canadian realized just how different the two countries were and tried to discover a way to proudly represent the culture he was raised in. Ultimately, he decided to create an apparel line to highlight and celebrate small town living.
“Everybody, including full families, were living in apartments and there simply seemed to be people everywhere. No real privacy outside of your own place; even the lakes and outdoor type locations were super populated,” Sawyer told Unwritten in an interview. “This is when I realized the freedom life in rural Canada has to offer. Their entire way of life is different.”
Upon his return to Canada to start University in 2014, he began to create t-shirts to sell which lead to becoming an apparel line in 2015. After its initial success, he still didn’t expect this business to become his next career move, since it was a simple side gig at the time.
What began as a deposit of $400, he and his buddy designed and created 12 shirts to give to family and friends. Those 12 shirts soon turned to 50, which lead to even more being produced at a quicker pace. By the time he had finished University in 2016, Sawyer had purchased all shares and invested in Country Liberty full time. Within months their apparel transitioned into being sold in stores as well.
In true small town fashion, the entire community made a huge effort to contribute to the launching of this brand and making it more than a local business, but an international one, accessible to hundreds of thousands of small town community members who can relate to the message of what Country Liberty stands for.
“Without my little town of Rexton, New Brunswick, Country Liberty would not exist. End of story. The initial support, lack of judgement, open mindedness, and continued support is the reason Country Liberty was able to grow outside of being a short term fad.”
From there he realized that his brand began to represent a lifestyle that eventually skyrocketed his success; small town living.
“People really started identifying with the brand and I felt it would be irresponsible to stop moving forward with it and I would have wronged those people if I stopped. This is the life I live every single day and the inspiration is all around me!”
The concept behind the brand is simple; freedom, community, integrity and appreciation. It represents people who appreciate being from small towns, rural communities, nature lovers, cottage go-ers, and general “country folk”, and the designs speak true to the laidback hard workers who still like to relax with a cold beer on a lake somewhere too.
Even the details in the designs are relatable to the general public. The campfire design symbolizes a place to gather and sense of community, since it’s often a popular thing to do with your closest friends in small towns, while the guitar pick provides a unique and rustic design to differentiate itself from other traditional brands.
From the rustic designs and nature-like colour tones, Country Liberty is the perfect kind of clothing to wear whether you’re going to the cottage for the weekend or shopping in a local farmers market. It’s simple, fashionable, unbelievably comfortable, and all around appeals to the small town kids even if they’ve moved on to the big city.
Personally, I have the Charcoal Heather Crewneck and I am obsessed with it. It’s the perfect size to lounge in, it’s soft on the inside and as cozy as can be, and the design is so unique on the outside. The quality definitely exceeded my expectations and is the perfect kind of sweater you’d steal from your man (if you had one) except you can actually own it for yourself.
To find more information or to purchase any of their unique shirts, hoodies, hats and other products, you can check out their website here. If you’re from the US and are still interested as well, they do ship internationally! If you subscribe by email, you can get a 15% off discount code, in addition to other online offers available through email only.
Featured image via Sawyer Hannay