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Paul Deng has been manufacturing winter jackets in China for 25 years but was inspired to create a whole new brand when he moved the family to P.E.I. last year.
“After we landed here I knew it was the life for me," Deng said, explaining that his family fell in love with the Island the second after arriving.
The Deng family came with the help of the provincial nominee program and opened a store last year called Cyanos Jay in BDC Place on Kent Street in Charlottetown where they sell what Paul describes as high-quality, affordable cruelty-free winter jackets.
Natural fur is not used in production.
Deng’s son, Iverson, who helps run the Charlottetown store and acts as the company’s customer service representative, said they use synthetic, or faux fur, which is engineered to have the appearance and warmth of animal fur. The material is called polyester.
The Cyanos Jay brand is sold across Canada and comes in five separate colours, each named after a city in Atlantic Canada: Charlottetown, St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton and Sydney. The jackets are manufactured in China.
“The ideas for the Atlantic Canadian brand ... came from our love of the East Coast culture," Iverson said. “I love it here. I love all of the names of the cities. They are beautiful names. Being a P.E.I.-based brand, we know how cold it can get ... so we have built these jackets to withstand the harsh East Coast winters."
The Deng family is from Hangzhou, China, where Paul has sold an average of one million winter jackets annually throughout Europe. Iverson came to Canada eight years ago where he went to school in Vancouver before his parents immigrated to P.E.I. Paul is also the director of Forest Fashions in China.
Iverson said he was initially skeptical of life on P.E.I. but quickly changed his mind.
“I took my parents all over the Island. We stopped in places like Souris and Georgetown. The feel is so different here. When I tried your lobster and oysters, I knew I was going to stay here," Iverson laughed.
“It was the best thing I had ever tasted. Immigration may have brought us here but we developed a love for this place. Even when the (provincial nominee) program is finished the (P.E.I.-based) brand will still exist. We will still sell the jackets. That is what our plan is for the future."
At a glance
Some information about the Deng family and their Cyanos Jay winter jacket brand:
- The brand was launched in August 2019 to coincide with the opening of the Charlottetown store, located in BDC Place on Kent Street.
- The jackets come in five different colours, all named after an Atlantic Canadian city: Charlottetown, St. John’s, Halifax, Moncton and Sydney.
- To help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to give back, the Deng family donated 10 winter jackets to needy families in Grise, Nunavut.
- The Deng family hopes to make community connections on P.E.I. as well.
- On the web at cyanosjay.ca.
As she looked over one of the jackets, one customer The Guardian spoke to at the store said she couldn’t tell the difference between a Cyanos Jay brand and more high-end brands like Canada Goose.
“Their jackets are a really good quality and the style is very fashionable," said Eva Bao of Charlottetown. “I recommended them to my friends ... and the price is compatible. Compared to some very famous brands, I think the quality is the same."
The Cyanos Jay jackets, which carry the logo of a blue jay (it’s designed differently that the logo of Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays to avoid any copyright problems), sell for about $200.
Paul said life in Hangzhou simply got too busy. He was looking for a new start for his family and knew that, with the growth of online shopping, he could handle the business from anywhere.
His wife, Jane Xu, said there is little doubt they’ll be staying on P.E.I.
“Islanders have been so, so kind to us," Xu said. “It’s been amazing. To be in a place where the lifestyle is so welcoming and we can still operate the business is the best combination."
Iverson said they had plans on introducing new collections this year but pulled back due to COVID-19.
“We were planning to add a new collection of using recyclable materials for the fabric and insulation," Iverson said. “In the future, our collections will only use environmental-friendly materials."