Most people talk about Peter J. Nygård, Chairman of NYGÅRD (International), in terms of his classic rags-to-riches story – the Finnish immigrants' son, who stitched up an empire out of women's clothing and is now the quintessential self-made man. This story overlooks another side of Peter Nygård – a hard driven man who has created a standard of excellence for the Canadian Women’s Fashion Industry, whose label is the #1 recognized label in the Canadian marketplace, and whose signature is recognized in fashion centres across the globe.

Peter Nygård’s success story began when he gathered his life savings and borrowed $8,000 capital to purchase 20% of a women’s garment manufacturer with $800,000 in annual sales, which within a few years he owned outright - renaming it 'NYGÅRD' & turning it around from near bankruptcy into the bustling dynasty that it is today! The speed with which Nygård claimed his #1 position in the industry is attributed to the uniqueness of his business decisions and his work ethic that includes 14-16 hour days/seven days a week. But then again, as Nygård says, "The only time you are working is when you wish you were doing something else".







 

Welcome to the exciting World of 
Peter Nygård!

Peter Nygard Was A Knight In Shining Armor To His Sister, Liisa

Liisa & Peter
“It makes me want to cry to think that I am fortunate enough to have a big brother like Peter.”
(Liisa Nygard Johnson)

Peter Nygard is one of two children of Eeli and Hilkka Nygard. The other was Liisa. Peter Nygard and his sister grew up very close to each other. Unfortunately, Liisa passed away earlier this year.

This is what Liisa said about Peter Nygard in 2018 and how he became her knight in shining armor on discovering that she had cancer: “When I found out last year that I had metastasized breast cancer, I didn’t know if I would make it to this year. When my brother found out, he jumped into action. Thank God for my brother. He has helped me with it and I’m marching on to good health.

“Peter is the kind of person that has to dig deep into everything. He’s not just satisfied with what’s on the surface. He is doing so much for me on this health quest. I had bad cataracts and he lined up an appointment for me to have a cataract removed. What a miracle that is. Peter has given me a whole new lease on life!

“He becomes like an angel around you. He wants to see people happy and not hurting. It makes me want to cry to think that I was fortunate enough to have a brother like him. He’s been like my guru and someone that I have looked up to my whole life. I’m here today as a cancer survivor thanks to my brother Peter.”

Given who Peter Nygard is with such a kind-hearted nature, it should be no surprise that he wanted to share his business success with his sister. So, Peter Nygard helped Liisa to establish a home-based business. With Liisa’s smarts and savvy, her business took off and became a multi-million-dollar success in no time.

Liisa once expressed that she didn’t expect it to grow as much as it did and become so
successful. She was grateful to her brother Peter Nygard, who she called her mentor and
cheerleader.

The saying ‘don’t mix family and business’ is due to the many failed business relationships with family members that abound. It is commonly felt that it is extremely difficult to make any type of a business arrangement with family members succeed. However, for Liisa and Peter Nygard, there were no challenges in that regard, which is a testament to their level of trust for each otherand Peter Nygard’s desire to always look out for the wellbeing of Liisa.

How Canadian Government Leaders Grew To Trust Peter Nygard’s Perspective

Usually there tends to be an uneasy alliance between a government and its business leaders. If it was always smooth sailing between these two groups, lobbyists wouldn’t exist in the world today. So when a government can rely on a business leader to have a business focus that aligns with their governmental goals, it’s invaluable.

Peter Nygard provided the Canadian Government with that invaluable opportunity. Peter
Nygard’s magnanimous nature meant he cared not only about his own workers, but the industry and the country as a whole. This was always on display in the way he communicated and by the actions he took.

There are three core factors that made the Canadian Government take notice of Peter Nygard and invite him to help them with their governmental goals:

1 - Peter Nygard cared about the apparel industry. This was on display from very early on in his career when he established the Manitoba Fashion Institute with a mission of improving the economic climate for everyone. His message to his fellow apparel principals was ‘let’s come together and help the industry succeed’.

2 - Peter Nygard was trusted among his industry stakeholders. Several industry associations in Canada had him serve as their organizations’ leader or serving on executive boards of the various industry associations and organizations.

3 - Peter Nygard wrote a white paper on free trade that presented a perspective that was good for Canada and not focused on what was best for his business. While other industry stakeholders opposed the idea of free trade, which posed a challenge for the Canadian Government’s interest in free trade back in the 1980s, Peter Nygard advocated for it and presented how and why it was good for the country as a whole.

These factors led to the Canadian Government wanting to have Peter Nygard as a partner in helping them to explore the idea of free trade. There was no doubt that he was the right person to help them in their deliberations, since in 1983, Peter Nygard stated in a speech, “The focus, therefore, must not be on whether to have free trade, but on what terms to have it.”

In 1984, the Canadian Government appointed Peter Nygard as the co-chairman of a fifteen-member task force created to make recommendations to the federal government concerning long-term industrial strategies for Canada’s textile and clothing industries.

This was only the beginning of a long-term relationship of trust. For many years, Peter Nygard represented the Canadian Government abroad as a trusted trade representative.

Peter Nygard’s Reputation As An Honest Broker Garnered Industry Participants’ Respect

One of the things that makes Peter Nygard unique as a businessman is that while he was driven to be the best, he always sought ways to make improvements in the apparel industry in Canada that would benefit even his competitors.

In a world where competition is everything and many businesses fight dirty, it’s a rare thing to care about other people in your industry. But not for one businessman: Peter Nygard cared.

In an effort to have everyone in the industry come together to make improvements in the
industry, early in his fashion career, Peter Nygard founded the Manitoba Fashion Institute with a mission of improving the economic climate for everyone. His industry work didn’t stop there.

Industry participants grew to respect Peter Nygard not just for his success, but for his sound ideas and desire to help everyone excel. The level of respect and trust Peter Nygard garnered among his peers meant they wanted him on practically every association board and industry organization that were instituted and developed over the years. Even in the industry organizations where Peter Nygard was not the president or chairman, he served on its executive board.

In discussing the ‘dark side of competition, Entrepreneur Kelly Richardson writing for Forbes expressed, “Sometimes evil competitors will try to destroy your good reputation, cause you direct financial loss or simply sabotage your business processes or tools. There’s no shortage of ways this can come to fruition…. It’s safe to say that some competitors will stop at nothing to ruin your business.” (“ The Dark Side of Business Competition and What to Do About It ”).

This is the norm for many industries. But for Peter Nygard, a business man with an uncommon kind-hearted nature, he wanted no part of a cut-throat industry culture. That is why he found ways to bring industry stakeholders together to work together to make sure the industry as a whole remained viable and sustainable.

Peter Nygard already had a reputation for being a fair and ‘honest broker’. So it’s no surprise that industry persons would be open to and accept his overtures for them to work together for everyone’s best interest. What made them really listen was Nygard’s ability to achieve the level of unprecedented business success that he had.

The fact that Peter Nygard was not afraid to work alongside the competition and help everyone to survive speaks once again to his caring nature and big-heartedness. It’s no wonder that industry leaders welcomed his efforts, always cooperated and made sure he was a strategic part of all of their industry associations and efforts.

Peter Nygard’s Success Driven By His Big-Hearted Nature

The theories on achieving success are varied and abundant. What’s not been theorized about is
the route that Peter Nygard unwittingly took—that is seeking continuous improvements to help
others, which inadvertently led to his success.

There are numerous reports over the fifty years of Nygard’s business that reflects that ‘trying to
make lots of money’ was not what motivated Peter Nygard to achieve success. Achieving the
level of unprecedented success that he has achieved was a result of Nygard implementing
constant innovations, setting industry benchmarks and always staying ahead of the curve.
When Peter Nygard became known as the ‘King of Polyester’, at a time when polyester was a
thing, it was because he perfected it. And what drove him to perfect it? Peter Nygard wanted to
find a way to make the housewife’s life easier. He wanted to offer clothing that did not need
ironing.

However, he knew it wasn’t enough to simply make it wrinkle free. Peter Nygard had to make it
stylish enough for housewives to want to buy it and wear it and so that’s what he did. As a result,
his stylish polyester styles were very popular, and the industry labeled him the ‘King of
Polyester’.

With his breakthrough new pant called SLIMS , Peter Nygard wanted to create a pant that made
women feel good about how they looked in their clothes. A pant that flattened the tummy, etc.,
and his exclusive Slimcurve Technology in so many attractive styles became so popular that
Peter Nygard achieved a million sales in three short years. Today this pant is still flying off the
shelves faster than ever.

Another of Peter Nygard’s big hearted efforts not only helped to achieve business success it also
won him a technology award. He wanted to make work life easier for his accounting associates
by eliminating a lot of the paperwork and manual processes they had to use. In order to create a
paperless method, Peter Nygard hired developers to develop an electronic purchase order system.
It tied together vendor sales and production orders that connected to the company’s financial
system and so it didn’t require paper invoicing.

Peter Nygard’s new software and system was created using Microsoft tools and Epicor. As a
result, NYGÅRD International won a Microsoft award in 2002 for building ‘next generation
applications using Microsoft tools’.

These are just some of the examples of how Peter Nygard’s success came about as a result of his
big-hearted nature.

Peter Nygard Gave 20 Plus Million to Cancer Awareness, Research And Eradication Projects


It is estimated that 15.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive on January 1, 2016, according to a 2018 report from the American Cancer Society. Cancer is a challenge encountered by many individuals in the world today, and it is one of the leading causes of death in both Canada and the United States.

The battle to eradicate cancer is one that Peter Nygard takes very seriously: “Breast cancer has been our major charity theme for 25 years. It’s a disease that affects our customers, so we will continue to fund research and development” (Peter Nygard).

So what does 25 years of giving add up to? More than 20 million dollars. Some business owners are known to be pretty philanthropic; however, Peter Nygard’s giving of twenty million dollars of profits to a cause on behalf of his company’s customers is really generous.

Archive pictures show that in 2003 alone Peter Nygard gave over a million dollars to cancer research and eradication. One picture shows a check for $650,000 being presented to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and another shows a check for $400,000 being presented to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Here are some of the projects established, sponsorships given and organizations who received cancer-related donations from Peter Nygard.

-         Establishment of Nygard International Molecular Biology Breast Cancer Research Unit
-         Establishment of Manitoba Breast Tumour Bank
-         Establishment of an Endowment Fund
-         Breast Cancer Research
-         CancerCare Manitoba Foundation
-         National Breast Cancer Foundation
-         Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
-         Run for the Cure
-         Mobile Mammography Unit

He funded a rural program aimed at reaching more people. Peter Nygard purchased a vehicle for a traveling mammography unit that goes out to remote areas in the Province of Manitoba to provide testing to those who might otherwise not have access. “Essentially, we’re there all the way from diagnosis to cure” (Peter Nygard).

Nygard also donated money raised through the sales of his popular SLIMs line and fashion show tickets over the years. One of Peter Nygard’s most recent donations was at his 50th Anniversary gala night, where he donated $100,000 for breast cancer research, which he does every year.

Since Peter Nygard adopted breast cancer eradication as his cause of choice, he has donated more than 20 million dollars to this effort.

For his generosity and partnership on projects for cancer awareness, cancer research and cancer eradication, Peter Nygard has received numerous awards from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and other organizations.

7 Things We Can Learn About Peter Nygard From His Giving

It’s one thing for individuals to donate a few hundred here and a few hundred there to a cause; but when you get to the point of donating millions of dollars to various causes that says a whole lot about who you are.

So, who do you have to be to give generously of yourself the way Peter Nygard does? We’ve learned 7 core things about who Peter Nygard is from his perpetual giving to individuals in need of medical treatment, athletes in need of sponsorship and various other causes to improve their lives.

1 - We’ve discovered that Peter Nygard truly has a kind heart. There are hundreds even thousands of beneficiaries of Peter Nygard’s giving over his lifetime. For the many individuals who’ve benefitted as a result, they likely agree with William Shakespeare who said, “A good heart is worth gold.”

2 - Peter Nygard wants others to be able to achieve their dreams. His commitment to helping others live their dream and achieve success suggests a lack of jealousy and selfishness.

3 - Peter Nygard doesn’t discriminate in his giving. ‘Ask and it is given.’ As long as it’s a true cause and a true need, he gives.

4 - At the same time, Peter Nygard doesn’t always wait to be asked. He sees the need and he steps in to help.

5 - Peter Nygard believes that others should be able to benefit from his wealth. While many wealthy people give, few give to the tune of millions. We know from Nygard’s story as a poor kid that sharing what he has is really important to him.

6 - Peter Nygard has a great ability to show empathy. He empathizes with others and the pain they are going through. As a result, Peter Nygard will go to great lengths to help them avoid the pain and suffering in their lives, like paying a Mayo Clinic medical bill for cancer treatment for a mere acquaintance—treatment that can add up to more than one hundred thousand.

7 - There is no doubt that Peter Nygard is selfless. Any man that is prepared to give away tens of millions of dollars to various individuals and causes in a world so full of hate and meanness, is truly a selfless man. Peter Nygard thinks of how he can help others live improved lives just like he has had the opportunity to do.

Peter Nygard has selflessly given to many over the years like a number of athletes, community projects, the developmentally challenged, cancer eradication projects and treatments, and many individuals’ medical treatment. And that’s only the stuff we know about.

Albert Einstein said it best when he said, “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”

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Helping Is What Peter Nygard Does, Ask Finnish Veterans

Like all Finns, Peter Nygard is a proud Finn, and every Finn has a right to be. As a whole, Finns
are known to possess a special quality that they call “sisu”, which is demonstrating resolve,
tenacity, a grit. Sharing a border with Russia, they’ve had to. Sisu has served them well
throughout their history.

Finland proved itself to be a tiny but mighty nation in its efforts to keep the Soviet Union at bay.
They repelled every attempt to subjugate them. How they managed it is impressive. An example
of one tactic this David used against the Soviet Goliath during the ‘Winter War’ was to use bed
sheets as a covering to blend in with the snow. Adept skiers, the Finn soldiers maneuvered
through the forests to successfully launch small attacks on the Soviet’s soldiers and their
equipment.

Throughout all of the Finn-Soviet conflicts, the Soviet Union’s grasp remained elusive even with
the Soviets overwhelming numbers and equipment. And while Finland was not able to win any
outright, Finnish soldiers were able to deliver significant damage to the Soviet soldiers during
several of their battles. As a result, treaties were created to settle things, and a quiet uneasiness
followed the years of battles.

The Finns achievements were extraordinary, but there was a reluctance to publicly laud the Finn
soldiers’ successful efforts to keep the Soviets at bay. The Finns understood the risk of poking
the bear. While they were being cared for over the years, some Finnish veterans still felt
forgotten; that is until Peter Nygard stepped into the picture.

Though warned against any public displays, Peter Nygard wanted to celebrate the victorious
efforts of his compatriots in keeping Finland an independent nation. In 1994, Peter Nygard and
his Mom, Hilkka, returned to his birthplace for a visit. Wanting to find a way to pay homage to
the veterans of the Winter War in Finland, to show his gratitude for their service, Peter Nygard
invited a former Miss Finland to visit the war veterans’ home along with him.

An April 1994 Finnish newspaper article entitled “Peter Nygard and Tanja Vienonen visit the
War Veterans,” describes how veterans were teary eyed and touched at being remembered. Peter
Nygard communicated to them that he wanted to help in any way he could.

Following that visit Peter Nygard donated medical and electrical beds to the veterans’ home and
continued to give generously to various veteran causes in Finland over the years.

Peter Nygard is said to attribute his own success to the Finns successful fight for freedom and
references them in many of his speeches. As a result of his efforts to show appreciation to them,
the Finnish veterans love Peter Nygard and have recognized him with a number of awards to
show their appreciation.

This is yet another example of Peter Nygard’s generous nature to give wherever he can.

Helping is definitely what Peter Nygard does.

The inspiring story of Hilkka Nygard


Child of Lamposaari is an authorized Biography of Nygard Fashion Matriarch Hilkka Nygard. The book details the remarkable life of Hilkka Kanerva Nygard, who left her beloved Finland and came to Canada with her husband Eli and their two children, Peter and Liisa, to escape the threat of Communist domination.

Child of Lamposaari is not only a tribute to Canadian immigrant mothers everywhere, but also a tribute to the lands they left behind and to the great country to which they came.

See the book on Amazon here.