Darren Biedermann is genuinely touched and appreciative but he really doesn’t understand the reason for all the fuss. “Giving back is not only important, it is just the right thing to do,” he says with trademark enthusiasm and positivity. “It’s as important as a sail is to a sailboat. It is a duty and an honour. And love of community spawns philanthropy.”
Last month, the National Philanthropy Day celebration of the Calgary & Area Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) recognized Biedermann’s Supreme Men’s Wear with the distinguished 2018 Generosity of Spirit, Small Business Philanthropist Award.
Each year, the association honours Calgary individuals and groups who have not only made outstanding contributions to the Calgary community but who also demonstrate a commitment and passion for bringing positive change to the area. Calgary’s annual National Philanthropy Day celebration has grown to be one of the largest in North America.
The formal citation notes that, for more than 23 years, Darren Biedermann, owner and creative director of Supreme Men’s Wear, has built more of a community gathering place than a retail clothing store. AFP points out that while Biedermann sells men’s fashion, he delivers connectedness.
“Imagine operating a luxury men’s clothing store in downtown Calgary for 70 years,” Biedermann says with pride. “It’s the ultimate giving back. The strongest of community hearts made sure that ours kept beating. And it’s so much more than about business. It’s passion and it’s community. Calgary loves Supreme and believes in our purpose, and we love Calgary back!”
Like many committed and involved philanthropists, Biedermann begrudgingly but candidly admits, “It’s harder to say no than yes.”
And although his list of giving back is long, it includes supporting many causes and generating awareness for charities like KidSport and Inn from the Cold. Seven years ago, one of Biedermann’s loyal clients introduced him to Calgary’s Fresh Start Recovery Centre, helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction and become independent.
Biedermann avoids talking about the details and specifics of Supreme’s philanthropy and he is mellow but uncomfortable about recognition and appreciation. He prefers to quote the legendary Muhammad Ali, “The service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth,” and invariably deflects the positive feedback to a genuine love-of-community. He agrees with the consensus among true philanthropists that making a difference and giving back is so much more than just the familiar cliché of “writing a cheque.”
It’s community. It’s caring. It’s being involved. It’s connecting.
“Caring and philanthropy is definitely a key part of the Calgary spirit. And it’s deep,” Biedermann emphasizes. “It can be as simple as creating a daily habit of reaching out and connecting with a complete stranger through an act of kindness. That connection is an act of philanthropy.
“Small, independent public-welcoming local businesses are the connecting spaces of the community. Without them we would lose the important glue that bonds us together. We will never connect through Amazon, Costco or Walmart in the future. And it’s time to step up, step out and support local businesses that are the future.
“We love this city and cannot imagine living and doing business anywhere else,” he adds with emotion.