Being socially conscious but also creative is a philosophy that Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed of Wear Your Label hold firmly. This was something that was always top of mind while developing Wear Your Label, a clothing line that was developed with the goal to create conversations around mental health and ultimately end the stigma surrounding it. Kyle and Kayley were inspired by their own personal experiences living with mental illness and were frustrated with the stigma that was attached to it, and that’s where the idea behind Wear Your Label was born.
Kyle, one of the entrepreneurs behind Wear Your Label, lives with Generalized Anxiety and ADHD. He has always been aware of fashion and believes that a person’s wardrobe often speaks to the world in ways a wearer can’t. “On days I feel down, I wear things that make me feel good! The influence the fashion industry has over consumers is horrific. Clothing can make people feel vulnerable, confident, fat, strong, etc.” Kyle points out. “A feeling only lasts so long, what if we could use clothing as a constant reminder, something that has elasticity and makes you heal not just feel.”
Wear Your Label is a very socially conscious brand. They go beyond saying their collections are sweatshop free. Their manufacturing has people affected by mental illness in every step of their process, from design, ideation, fabrication, manufacturing, printing, and distribution. “We do this to help our customers know that someone affected by mental health is making it for you,” says Kyle. “We are building a community around Wear Your Label.” On top of their manufacturing process, there are a lot of little things that go into their brand. They offer gender-neutral clothing and give 10% of each purchase to mental health research and organizations. Each package also includes a hand written note from Kyle or Kayley, who are living proof that a brand can create a significant impact by being socially conscious, and still make a profit.
“Young entrepreneurs are no longer asking how they can make a lot of money, but how they can make the world a better place,” Kyle shares. “I think consumers are demanding more from businesses. You can’t just make clothing, it has to do more.” The dynamic duo proves their point through the praise and daily messages they receive from people around the globe who connect to their brand. Kyle shared with us stories from parents who were having a challenging time connecting with their kids, who used Wear Your Label clothing as an icebreaker to open up the conversation, to messages they are getting through social media from customers who are saying their package was the best anti-depressant they ever had.
The hype around Wear Your Label is clearly growing. In 2015 alone, they have been featured in major media hubs like People Magazine, MTV and Buzzfeed. With all the recent media coverage, the two are finding it hard to keep their product on the shelves. “We have been working really hard over the last year, refining our brand and speaking to hundreds of different audiences around Canada,” Kyle says. “We are building and building our following and reach, and there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that helped us land the larger press opportunities.”
Despite the success and explosion of the Wear Your Label brand across media outlets, just like most entrepreneurs, Kyle and Kayley have had several challenges and obstacles to overcome along the way. Wear Your Label is operating in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Kyle explains that being a social enterprise that is not following a traditional business model like with tech or software, model is tough. Even though the University of New Brunswick’s Technology Management and Entrepreneurship Centre and their Futurpreneur Canada mentor have given them amazing opportunities, they still find it very challenging living in a province that doesn’t have a thriving fashion industry.
Wear Your Label’s Futurpreneur Canada mentor, Phil Leblanc, has had a big part in the brand since the start. “Our mentor taught us how to screen-print and graphic design with Adobe. He was able to give us the necessary skills to run a fashion company, and has been with us since the beginning. He even helped create our brands logo.”
Kyle hopes that by fall or winter 2015, Wear Your Label will be available in retailers, and not just online. He wants to expand the brand internationally and sees it working as more than just a clothing line. He wants Wear Your Label to be a catalyst for change within fashion. “If we can have the ability to impact how the fashion world views body image, self-esteem and other mental health challenges, we would be extremely proud,” Kyle excitedly shared.
The Futurpreneur Canada team can’t wait to see how this fashion label takes the world by storm and changes the stigma around mental health. With catchy phrases on the front of their clothing like, “sad but rad,” “it’s okay not to be okay,” and “stressed but well dressed,” Kyle and Kayley are starting conversations around mental health one stylish piece of clothing at a time.
To read more on Kyle and Kayley’s story, click here.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada