Interview with Kyle & Kayley from Wear Your Label
When I heard about Wear Your Label, it was almost by accident. I was flipping through instagram, as one does, and noticed Allie Beckwith was shooting a lookbook for a new designer. New Designer?? Of course I was intrigued. It didn’t take me long to message Kyle and Kayley to set up a time to chat. Since meeting them, I’m in awe of their drive, passion and dedication to wearing their label – while trying to end the stigma associated with mental illness. I encourage you all to check out their website. Buy a shirt. Support their brand. Wear YOUR label . xo
Hey Kyle, Kayley – tell me about yourselves and what you do.
Kayley: I just graduated from UNB, and have always loved fashion, so I’ve been involved in the industry for a while: I model, write for various fashion blogs & magazines, and have somehow turned into a designer through this journey! Kyle: I’m a beer-maker, and I work on green initiatives for Picaroons. But I’m also finishing studies at STU and now obviously working with this one on Wear Your Label. I have a background in social causes – I started the non-profit “Youth Matters” when I was a teen – so stuff like this is close to my heart.
Tell me about Wear Your Label:
Kyle: So it actually started over a dinner conversation. Kayley and I met in December 2013 while working for DOTS NB (a local mental health non-profit). We actually became really close through that, and I just said one night “What if we put mental health labels on clothes” to make a statement. From there, it spiralled into a side/school project, and then a full-time endeavour this past summer when we were accepted to the Foundry Summer Institute. That really pushed us to make our “idea” a real, viable social business. That’s when we actually started selling our first line of clothes (June)… and now here we are with our own studio in downtown Fredericton! Kayley: Yeah, so we actually only came up with the idea in January. It has evolved so much since that first conversation though! Long story short: Wear Your Label is a conscious clothing line, that uses fashion design as a means to create conversation about mental health. We make every decision – from textile, to graphic, right down to the tags – reflecting back on positive mental health. Then, we give back a portion of our sales to different mental health initiatives. Ultimately, we’re merging fashion and mental health, trying to make some big change in both industries, and bring awareness to the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.
Where did the idea come from?
Kayley: Kyle is the big ideas guy. He literally has new ideas everyday haha. This one just really stuck with me, and together we knew we had to make it happen. Kyle: Yeah, Kayley and I both live with mental illness: I have Anxiety and ADHD and Kayley is recovering from an Eating Disorder. We both opened up to each other early on in our relationship, but realized we couldn’t with other people in our lives. Kayley: At the time we were still basically strangers, but our personal mental health experiences were something we both connected on. Being in the midst of fighting our personal battles, and working with different mental health non-profits on a local and national scale, everything seemed to click into place. We knew we had to do something more to tell our stories, and help others connect and realize they’re not alone. And we just chose fashion as our medium to do that.
What does it mean to “Wear Your Label”?
Kayley: Wearing Your Label basically means to take ownership over your mental health. We are constantly bombarded by mental health campaigns that promote “breaking the stigma” by trying to get people to NOT use mental health labels, because of the notion that it will perpetuate the stigma. In reality, deterring people from calling themselves “depressed” or “anxious” just reinforces that these are negative things. But they’re not; they’re illnesses. Kyle: As soon as someone is “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” we try to cover it up by saying that we are NOT that, and that we are so much more. Which is true, we are so much more. But our labels are nothing to be ashamed of – they are part of us, but not all of us. So we encourage people to wear their labels by being open about their mental illness, talking about their mental health, and making it okay to not be okay. Kayley: Our apparel tries to reinforce this with little things like our tags, which tell you How to Take Care of Yourself. And we try to post informative, and positive posts on our social media. So it becomes a community of people learning about mental health, sharing their own personal stories, and not being ashamed of being “labeled” with an illness.
Tell us about your brand ambassador program:
Kyle: Yeah! So this is something we’re really excited about. Basically it’s a chance for others to share their stories, and let our followers get to know inspiring people in their communities. People who already wear their labels, regardless of our clothing. Kayley: We call them our Community Champions and they’re chosen through an online application. We have young individuals from Vancouver to Saint John, who we’ve chosen to represent our brand. They’re tasked to share their personal mental health journeys through our blog, to share our social media & create content, and to represent us across the country at different events like conferences. One of our Champions is even walking for us at Atlantic Fashion Week!
What is a typical day like for you?
Kyle: No such thing. Just kidding. A lot of brainstorming, design drafting, meetings and physically manufacturing – because we screenprint everything by hand, in house. Not to mention working for Picaroons and university homework! Kayley: I run communication, so I’m always answering e-mails, reaching out to new people, and social media-ing all the time. Kyle hates me for being on my phone and computer so much haha. I also make all the bracelets for our Bracelet Project, work on our website and manage processing orders.
Your dream day?
Kayley: I love speaking at events. Any time we get a chance to share our story, and meet others. But showing at Atlantic Fashion Week just might top that! Kyle: Waking up and forgetting the plot of the Avengers so I can watch it for the first time again. Kayley: He’s kidding. Kind of.
Kayley: I’ve hinted at it already: we’ve shown our newest collection at Atlantic Fashion Week! So that’s really amazing, especially after only being operating for a couple months.
Kyle: The Grand Opening of our new studio space, a Home Edition, and more collabs…
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xo! Thank you both <3