Interview with Kayley of Wear Your Label: Fashion tackling the stigma of mental illness. Check out WearYourLabel website.
Wear Your Label clothing is meant to create conversations about mental health. What conversation are you aware of starting that you are most proud of?
We get e-mails and messages on social media all the time from customers who have had special conversations about mental health while wearing our product. One of my favorites is a customer who was wearing the Sad but Rad tee at a coffee shop, and the barista complimented her on the shirt - and then proceeded to open up about their own experience with depression as a transgender person. I'm so proud to be able to create a product that can help foster those meaningful connections between strangers.
What’s great about Wear Your Label is that it’s not just a business, but also a social movement. Did you ever imagine that what started as a school project would grow into an international business?
No, we never really thought it would grow to become this global thing... and even when it started picking up, I never expected things to grow so quickly. But I'm really grateful that we can influence so many people, and I'm excited to see what kind of impact we can continue to have.
What advice do you have for young people that want to make a difference but maybe don’t know how or where to start?
Find that thing that makes you excited to jump out of bed, and then just do it. The worst thing a person can do is hold off because they're afraid to make a mistake, or to fail, or to not be perfect. But nothing will come unless you just go for it.
When you met your co-founder Kyle, you were battling an eating disorder and Kyle had generalized anxiety disorder and ADHD. You talked about how fear held you back from reaching out for help. What was it that inspired you to get help when you did?
A culmination of things happened at the time that I decided I needed to choose recovery: I started volunteering at a mental health organization, I'd started group counselling with other girls experiencing eating issues, and I met Kyle - who was very open about his mental health experiences and helped me realize that it's okay to talk about these things. All of those things influenced my decision to finally take ownership over my mental health, seek more help, and be proactive about getting better.
What are some coping strategies that help you through tough times?
I love to indulge in self-care. Unplugging my phone. Doing my nails. Listening to great music. Eating chocolate. Little things that add up when you do them enough.
You recently came up with the amazing campaign #withlovewyl You are asking people to write letters of hope for someone who is feeling hopeless so Wear Your Label can send the letters to customers with their orders. What do you want to say to someone going through a tough time who is feeling hopeless?
It's so cliche, but you're not alone. Mental illness has a way of twisting our mind's to believe that we are isolated, and that no one else "gets it". But it's so far from the truth. And once you realize there's a community of people who have gone through similar challenges and have overcome them, it gets easier to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Do you and Kyle design all the Wear Your Label products? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Yes we do! We get inspiration from everyday life, our personal experiences, sayings or mantras that have helped us through a tough time... We also get a lot of ideas and feedback from customers, and try to bring some of those to light. When we partner with mental health non-profits, it's a very collaborative process of working with them to design something that highlights their cause and maintains our brand.
What is your favourite Wear Your Label item?
Right now my favorite pieces are the gemstone bracelets. It was a really exciting step up from our original Bracelet Project, and it's subtle enough that you can wear it every single day - during the day, or even out in formal settings.
Do you have any words to live by?
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that thing. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
What’s next for Wear Your Label?
We're working on a special project with Joe Fresh spring! We're really excited about being able to partner with more established brands, specifically in fashion, who have an even larger influence and reach to create change