By Carlena Knight
When we think about the catch phrase ‘no days off’ we attribute it to a die-hard attitude of never giving up, but two Antiguan and Barbudan natives are taking the popular phrase to higher heights with their own clothing line.
The No Days Off (NDO) brand is the brainchild of Chaz Samuel and his life-partner, Shayna Cort, who both reside in Canada. The NDO logo, designed by Cort, is featured on the brand’s apparel which range from hoodies to crop tops, leggings, shorts, hats, active wear, masks, slides and basketballs.
Samuel, 26, attended the Baptist Academy and the Island Academy here in Antigua before moving to Halifax in 2018 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce at Saint Mary’s University, while 24-yeqr-old Cort, who also attended Island Academy, moved to Halifax in 2014 to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science degree at Dalhousie University. She is currently a PhD candidate at Dalhousie in the Medical Neuroscience faculty.
Samuel, who is also a national basketballer, explained that the inspiration for the brand actually came after hosting a basketball summer camp with some young ballers a few years back at the JSC Sports Complex.
“I was truly inspired by the hard work and determination I witnessed throughout the weeks when I trained them, so Shayna and I wanted to find a way that the young athletes filled with drive can express this mindset. No Days Off Apparel Inc. was created as an outward expression of an inward mindset. The mindset that any goal is attainable through hard work and grit,” he said.
“Our goal at NDO is to find innovative ways to motivate and inspire through clothing. I am happy that I am able to blend my love for basketball and my passion for business into a company that can have a real impact.”
Despite their love for the company, both Samuel and Cort admitted that it has been a task juggling school and everyday life with running a business.
In addition to pursuing their studies, Samuel is a youth basketball trainer while Cort is neuroscience tutor and elderly caregiver.
“It’s very easy to want to give up. However, by adopting the NDO mindset we have found unique ways to stay motivated and committed to our goals inside and outside of the business life,” he said.
“The NDO brand actually has become an integral part of my lifestyle and a motivating factor in my academic journey,” Cort added.
Since their launch in 2019, the NDO brand has seen some success through various pop-up shops in Canada and through the support from Antiguan buyers, but just like many other businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has hampered their progress in some areas.
Despite those setbacks, the duo has found a way to still make their brand accessible for all.
“It forced us to shift our business model to e-commerce and focus on social media marketing. The pandemic has taught us that when a problem arises the key is to fight back with a solution. Now we enjoy balancing our e-commerce store and the current pop-up opportunities we are privileged to participate in from time to time,” Cort added.
The sky is the limit for this dynamic couple who have their eyes set on their business becoming a multi-billion-dollar international active wear brand one day.
All in all, a sense of national pride and giving back is never far off for these two, as they also shared it is their intent to set up an NDO charity foundation and one day fund a project in Antigua and Barbuda “to improve the basketball infrastructure”.
“We currently have no indoor courts on the island but we have so much talent. An NDO facility where our young kids can access daily will help to cultivate this talent,” Samuel explained.
The foundation will also provide academic scholarships and support to the youth of Antigua and Barbuda.
“Hopefully we can partner with a school, one day, to fulfill this goal and give underprivileged kids the same opportunity I got,” Samuel said.
The couple is now encouraging others to pursue their dreams.
“Rome was not built in a day, it took planning, commitment and determination. As young people, sometimes, we are tempted by the idea of instant success; however, I’ve quickly realised that success doesn’t come easy and hard work definitely pays off.”
Persons can find the NDO brand on their ndofitness and ndoapparelinc Instagram pages and on their website at ndoapparel.ca.