Category Archives: Barry Chouinard

Charitable Giving – What is the Best Way to Do It?

Every year right around the commencement of the holiday season we take a look at charitable giving. Inspired by our founder Barry T. Chouinard, a very generous role model indeed, we are keen to give. Being a small business, we are particular about how and where we do our charitable giving.

We love to give locally. Giving is often most fulfilling when done in person (this might sound selfish, but it feels great to be able to see the immediate result of one’s good deeds); this is not always possible. Time is a huge factor, especially around the holidays, so many of us give in other ways.

charitable_givingSome of these other ways are not always as easy to track, so we thought we’d take a look at a few of the more popular online hubs for charitable giving: Charity Watch, GiveWell, and Charity Navigator. All have very rigorous criteria in place for identifying and evaluating charities. Each of these organizations has provided considerable support of the needy.

Charity Navigator lets you browse among highly rated charitable organizations by category. Animals, humanities, education, environment, health, human services, international, public benefit, and religion. It lists charitable organizations that are trending right now – from Wounded Warrior Project and Heifer Project International to World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children. There is something for everyone here.

Charity Watch does not have the greatest website, but “Of the approximately six hundred charities currently rated by CharityWatch, only a select number qualify for our listing of Top-Rated charities based on our rigorous analysis.” You can see their Charity Rating Criteria here.

GiveWell also had a grading system and lists only its favorite organizations that received the highest marks.

Unfortunately, each of these charity hubs has also done a considerable amount of mud-slinging at other charitable organizations – which does not seem very charitable at all. But like anything good and like everything published online, more research is warranted. provides detailed information about every single IRS-registered nonprofit organization here, which might be a good place to start.

But please do not be discouraged from giving, and giving as generously as you can. If you are hesitant about giving online, volunteer! gives us this on the benefits regular volunteering:

You’ll find the consistent presence of a regular service time to be a calming, stabilizing force in your life, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to seeing those individuals that you work with. Volunteering your time can heighten your levels of satisfaction, and you can be proud of the effort you put into giving back to your community. Service opportunities may also be a great way to connect with friends and family members, as you can all go volunteer at an organization together — which maximizes your satisfaction and, more importantly, your impact. (

This holiday season, when it comes to charitable giving we encourage you to follow your passions, do a little bit of research, make a commitment, and share the love! That is what the holiday spirit is all about.


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Giving Tuesday – Giving is Good for You

We all know that Black Friday can make or break a retail season. We get that and wish you the best for your business. But Giving Tuesday can make or break you in another way. Giving is good for you. It’s good for business and good for your health!

barry-chouinardThis is the time of year when we look closer at giving and gratefulness. Though our charitable-giving-hero and boss, Barry Chouinard, presents an excellent example of giving and community involvement year round, we follow him most closely this time of year.

We found an organization that could lead the charge for your company as Barry does for ours: Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season.  It happens every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, the second annual GivingTuesday is on December 3, 2013. In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, GivingTuesday gives the giving community a chance to come together and magnify its impact.

“It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.” Learn more about how you can participate.

We are in a fortunate position to help make the holidays happier for others. Let’s do it!


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Cotton, Comfort and the Power of the Smile

smileSmiling is the universal human reaction to pleasure. When we are comfortable, we smile more. It’s very simple and it is one of the foundations of our business here at Comfort Colors.

There are two types of smiles: Duchenne and Pan-Am. The Duchenne smile is the real one. You can recognize it by the way it lights up the eyes. The Pan-Am smile, named after the perfunctory smile seemingly glued to the faces of Pan American World Airways flight attendants, also known as the Botox smile, is the fake one.

The Duchenne smile is our goal. It comes from the top down: our president, Barry Chouinard and our vice-president, Kevin Camisa are both Duchenne smile champions.

The Duchenne smile is also why we use cotton and so many great colors. Cotton, a natural fiber, is more comfortable. When we are more comfortable, we are more apt to smile. And when we smile more, all kinds of good things happen. Take a look at the power of the smile:

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Folding T-shirts: Here’s How It’s Done

Barry ChouinardIt has come to our attention that some people are getting a bit fanatical about the way they fold their comfort colors T-shirts. As much as we love our founder, Barry Chouinard, we would not recommend his personal t-shirt folding style (here he is on the right).

We thought we’d take a look at how some of our friends online are dealing with their t-shirts.

Here is a fun blog post on the subject of folding cotton t-shirts “Folding t-shirts in a drawer in horizontal rows instead of vertical ones so you can actually see all of your t-shirts at once.”

Here is a Youtube Video that teaches us how to fold a T-shirt in Two Seconds. We love that the video takes two minutes and 13 seconds:

This video tells you how to do this in Japanese…faster perhaps?

Happy Folding!

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Barry T Chouinard: Top 100 Vermont-based businesses

Vermont_100.svgThe number 100 has a great deal of significance in Vermont.

Route 100 in Vermont is a magical winding road that bisects our state lengthwise. It is one of Yankee Magazine’s favorite scenic drives. It is the road to secret swimming holes in summer and world-class skiing in winter.

The Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run starts in West Windsor, Vermont. It is one of the four 100-mile races that comprise the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. It is the big cheese of East Coast Ultrarunning.

The top 100 hiking trails in Vermont feature some of the best hiking you’ll find anywhere.

We love these Vermont 100s, but one Vermont 100 is particularly dear to Comfort Colors: Vermont Business Magazine’s Vermont 100+. It is a list of Vermont-based companies ranked by revenue and growth. We made the list again this year!

Thanks again for making it possible.

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Doing good in the world – with Cotton and Barry Chouinard

Cotton_MatherRecent tragedies have brought us together as a nation – even if only to argue about guns and schools. But as we honor and cherish the children lost in Newtown last week, we’d like to take a moment to encourage you to look for and work for the good in your own community – that’s where doing good in the world starts.

Philanthropy and charitable giving are our national heritage. Benjamin Franklin is often thought of as the progenitor of modern philanthropy in the United States. In truth he was perhaps the founding nephew; he took his inspiration from Cotton Mather, the true father of modern philanthropy. (At Comfort Colors, we appreciate the significance of his first name.)

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was a very cool guy. He graduated from Harvard in 1678 at age 15 and advocated philanthropy as a way of life. He published a widely read American classic, Essays to Do Good in 1710.

Barry ChouinardFranklin wrote to Cotton Mather’s son:  “When I was a boy, I met with a book, entitled Essays to Do Good, which I think was written by your father. It…gave me such a turn of thinking, as to have an influence on my conduct through life; for I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good, than on any other kind of reputation; and if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book” (Franklin 1961, 197-8 –

At Comfort Colors, our founder Barry Chouinard is very active in his contributions to the communities here in Vermont and in Massachusetts. He inspires us to take action wherever and whenever we can. As a company, we support many charitable causes and encourage you to do the same.

This holiday season, take a tip from your Founding Father and give generously.

Happy Holidays!

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Comfort Colors Makes Vermont’s Top 100 Businesses

Top 100 Vermont BusinessesBarry Chouinard’s Comfort Colors in Northfield recently made Vermont Business Magazine’s top 100 list. It is not that surprising really, as this Vermont t-shirt company exemplifies our state’s cache. Think “Vermont” and once you get past the ice cream and craft beers, you’ll think adjectives like self-made, independent, informal, hardworking and easy going.

In a business, these qualities can make or break you. But when these qualities describe the leadership of an organization, good things are bound to happen. This is the case with Comfort Colors. When you meet Barry Chouinard in person, the first thing you’ll notice is the twinkle in his eye. It could be mischief or it could be simple delight – both great qualities in a boss.

Take a tour of the Northfield facility and you’ll hear it in Chouinard’s voice: “I am the luckiest man alive.” He said this more than once during the nickel tour. This good attitude sugars down (as we say here in Vermont) to the employees. The crew epitomizes teamwork: employees are like family. You can feel it in the easy way they interact.

If the team at Comfort Colors is family, then Chouinard is the favorite uncle, that uncle who will help you out of a jam without necessarily telling your parents about it. He is known to lend a hand when an employee or even a vendor faces a crisis. And his altruism reaches beyond the Dye House into charitable causes within the community: from the local hockey team to international organizations such as Grounds for Health (Grounds for Health works with coffee-growing communities to establish sustainable cervical cancer prevention programs).

It’s not just compassion that makes this business what it is today. Barry Chouinard attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell as a Textile Chemical Colorist. He is the third generation of his family working in the textile industry: his father was a dyer at a hosiery mill in Peterborough, New Hampshire; his grandfather was a dyer in Hillsboro. His cousin, Yvon Chouinard, a textile maven on the West Coast, started the outdoor clothing company, Patagonia.

The Chouinards seem to have a way with textiles and with business. The combination of generosity of spirit, depth of knowledge, and a terrific business sense works well for them. It must be something in the Chouinard DNA.

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