At first glance, a men’s clothing dealer and the YWCA of Utah may not seem to go together.
U student Trapper Roderick, a haberdasher, insists that they do.
Roderick’s new business, True Gentleman, makes and sells custom suits for men. At a gala held at the Partnership Art Gallery on Thursday, Roderick announced his company’s latest venture.
True Gentleman will partner with the YWCA to develop messages that support the YWCA’s goals towards racial justice, civil rights, women’s empowerment and health and safety.
The company will release a casual-wear line promoting these messages and give a portion of sales to YWCA. The percentage of proceeds is to be determined but will soon be announced in a press release.
This partnership marks the two-year growth and success of True Gentleman, which Roderick established in 2013 with help from the U’s Lassonde Institute.
Roderick got the idea for his company when he was looking to buy a custom suit and was disappointed by the lack of choices that provided both a high quality product and an enjoyable customer experience. He said he felt he had something to bring to the haberdashery table.
“I knew I could do it better, market it differently and make it a little more fun,” Roderick said.
Thad Kelling, spokesperson for the Lassonde Institute, said Roderick participated in Lassonde’s seed fund program, where students pitch their business ideas to a board of student directors in order to receive grants.
“They’re one of my biggest supporters,” Roderick said.
Lassonde offers classes, workshops, conferences and funding programs geared towards helping students of diverse backgrounds, interests and majors. Kelling said Roderick is a prime example of a student who has taken advantage of these programs to supplement his university experience and create opportunities.
True Gentleman’s site states it has grown to be “a nationwide brand with customers ranging from top executives, billboard awardees and professional athletes,” Roderick now wishes to give back to the community that supported him through his company’s partnership with the YWCA.
Chris Cahoon, True Gentleman’s head of marketing, said the goal is to “start a conversation and social media campaign about what a real man can be in this day and age.”
The YWCA works to create awareness of domestic violence and lack of education and opportunities for women. Cahoon and Roderick said they hope to create male allies for the organization’s causes and promote values they say are part of being a True Gentleman.
Amberlie Phillips, chief development officer of YWCA Utah, said she was excited “these young men see the value in what we do,” and hopes it will bring more vigor to the organization’s perception.