The Challenger Brand: Insights from Fearless Founders

5&Vine Challengers Share Lessons Learned with The Challenger Brand

Our goal has always been to make a positive impact on society and we’ve been consistent in partnering with brands that want to do the same. We function on an understanding that the world needs Challengers now, more than ever, and we’ve committed to taking an evolved approach to capitalism to make a difference.

As part of that mission, we’ve wondered how we can scale the impact of other local Challengers that are bettering society, to spread their word, motivate others, and create a community.

Thus began the development of The Challenger Brand.

We’ve spent the past few months connecting with Challengers that are making a difference in our home city of Toronto. We want to amplify their stories and foster a community of thought leaders that inspire continual innovation.

As we took the time to chat with these Challengers, we wanted to understand their inspirations and motivations, wins and setbacks. With time, we saw a theme amongst the responses we received.

Our goal today is to share these insights in the hopes they’ll spark something in you as you embrace your inner Challenger and seek to upend the status quo yourselves.

The Moment They Became Challengers

Whether it’s championing sustainability or levelling the playing field when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Challengers know how to look adversity in the face.

In speaking with these Challengers, we’ve realized the push to take action can come from anywhere. It only takes one defining moment for them to feel compelled to take action and commit to making the world a better place.

For Luke Anderson, who founded StopGap Foundation to raise awareness about the importance of having a fully accessible, barrier free, and inclusive society, it was crystal clear.

“I distinctly remember the moment when my frustration boiled over and I realized that something needed to be done about this situation,” he says. “Nothing was being done to remove barriers to entry and I was noticing that new buildings were being constructed with stepped entryways. I was tired of complaining about the issue and decided to channel my frustration into action. It was at this moment that the StopGap seed was planted.”

For Nuha Siddiqui, whose company erthos is tackling plastic pollution through the power of plants, the moment came in 2016, after she read a World Wildlife Fund report about marine pollution stating that by 2050, there would be more plastic than fish in our ocean.

“The biggest culprit? Disposable single-use plastics. The $83-billion North American market alone discards eight million tons of single-use plastic into the ocean every year. Yet, plastic continues to be produced and consumed every single day,” she says.

Advice to Others Looking to Build a Challenger Brand

All Challengers face adversity but because they know their mission is worth pursuing, they also continue to persevere and push boundaries. In talking with Challengers we’ve learned:

Don’t ignore your calling. If you find joy and interest in a domain, you’ll be able to identify discrepancies and opportunities to create change. Keep down that track.

Go fast and slow. Change often takes time to occur and breaking new ground is difficult. Persevere, be patient, and do not give up.

Izzy Camilleri, who founded IZ Adaptive to provide clothing for people living with a disability (particularly those who use a wheelchair) perseverance is key.

“Do your homework. Do your research. Ask the questions. Be patient. Know that your mistakes are what teach you. When you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue. Breaking new ground is always difficult, especially when there are no businesses to look to for inspiration. You need to be that inspiration.”

Motivating Others to Push Boundaries

The world needs Challengers but actually embracing a Challenger mindset and tackling norms can be tough. Standing in the face of adversity and seeking to create significant change can be daunting – but it will also be rewarding.

As a result, we’ve seen a number of Challengers we’ve spoken to motivate others to embrace their Challenger Thinking. Part of that comes when you:

Tune into others. The people surrounding you have passions and a wealth of knowledge. They’ve got creations and solutions at the ready. Give them ample space to discover them and opportunities to act on them. When you don’t see eye to eye with the solution they’re proposing – give them a chance. You never know.

Also, with any cause comes an effect. So, if you’re in the business of changing the world, founder of Reset Adil Dhalla says to be aware of that responsibility.

“If your plan is to challenge the status quo and light a fire in a system, remember that you have a responsibility to keep the fire safe. Far too often we see a lot of collateral damage in the name of innovation.”

Finding Inspiration to Take Action

The Challengers we’ve spoken with have developed solutions to shape our world for the better. The actions they’ve taken are commendable and deserve credit. But, behind every Challenger are other people, thoughts, and experiences that inspire the decisions they make and actions they take.

Do your research and learn from others. There’s no right answer on who is a suitable mentor or what a proper source of inspiration might be. Expose yourself to people that are doing good things you care about and chances are you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Danya Stein, who founded bare market to create a more just, less wasteful food system, talks of a lesson she learnt.

“One of our managers told me of a university professor that used to tell their class: first, think of a solution outside the contexts of money, time, power, or other resources. Once you have that solution, reconsider those other variables and identify the ones that aren’t as rigid as you may have initially thought. She encouraged their class away from “out of the box thinking”, and instead asked them to break apart the box completely.”

She describes how “this mindset removes the limits we unintentionally place upon ourselves when problem-solving. We often think of the power structures or lack of resources that might derail a project before we’ve even proposed a full solution to the issue at hand. I have found that identifying solutions before barriers can actually encourage a higher degree of creativity and produce more favourable results.”

5&Vine’s Call to Action

We are a team of Challengers on a mission to shape our world for the better. On a personal and professional level, we understand that the actions we take have impact beyond us, to our world and the people that inhabit it. We do our best to think forward, be good, and do good. We invite you to do the same.

It’s time to change your shirt.

To support the Challengers that inspire us, foster a community of like-minded Challengers, and invite new people to join the Challenger space, we created The Challenger Brand. This fall, we released the first series drop of our limited-release The Challenger Brand t-shirt. We appreciate everyone who supported our vision by changing their shirt.

All profits of The Challenger Brand tees will go to support The Challenger Fund, a no-strings attached grant that will be awarded to a local Challenger that’s making a positive impact. An expert panel will select the grant winner from the last batch of Challengers we’ve featured in early 2022.

Thank you for joining us in this first adventure. We can’t wait to grow and evolve The Challenger Brand together in the year to come.


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status quo and win?

👋 I'm Rahul, founder and CMO at 5&Vine. Reach out to schedule an intro call about your marketing challenges and let's assess how 5&Vine can help your brand win.

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