“Mental Health is something very human.”
The insightful words of Kayley Reed, the co creator of Wear Your Label (WYL) based out of New Brunswick, speak to the knowledge and personal experience she has in regards to Mental Health. Along with Kyle MacNavin, Wear Your Label is roughly a year old with possibly a thousand orders.
The clothes, that have sayings such as Sad But Rad and It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, is helping to start the conversation and break down the stigma that surrounds mental health (in style!)
The humble beginnings of WYL started when Kayley, who suffered from anorexia nervosa, and Kyle, who has ADHD and a Generalized Anxiety disorder, were university students, and were tasked with creating engagements for middle school students. “Kyle was very open with his mental illness and his struggles,” Kayley said about when the two started to work together in December of 2013. “It encouraged me to open up about my struggles, because I was at my lowest at that time with my own illness and wasn’t willing to admit it.”
The two realized that there was a gap in Mental Health initiatives that didn’t really get people excited about mental health, for obvious reasons. WYL was their small way of creating a bigger community, and letting people know they weren’t alone. “We want people to know that they aren’t alone, especially when when you are in the tight grip of (a mental illness) it’s isolating,” Kayley said.
With their business, Kayley and Kyle were able to make their own decisions about how to present their brand, and one of those ways was through their Role Models. During a casting call for a large fashion week they were participating in, the pair were overwhelmed by how they were suppose to pick the faces of their brand.
“For roughly 8 hours, we saw 100s of models interested in walking the show,” Kayley explained. “We saw them for roughly 10 seconds, and were only told their measurements. That’s it.” They decided they needed more from their models, and asked people to fill out an application. “We ask for two photos, with them smiling, and ask them to tell their experiences with mental health and what labels they’ve been given.” The applications flooded in, and even this week they received hundreds and they aren’t even doing casting calls.
Another initiative they began in their online store was taking away gender distinctive clothing sections, which was inspired during a brain storming meeting after Kyle and Kayley attended a open discussion at their school about gender equality. “We were throwing out ideas about how to make the the store more open and inclusive,” Kayley explained about the decision to take away the ‘girls’ and ‘guys’ distinction in their store.
She recalled emails from customers asking when certain styles would be done for women or men, and they came back with why not just buy the style as it is. “Taking away the gender distinctions gained a lot of attention,” she said. “We didn’t expect all of the attention we have got because of that decision.”
Finally, Kayley shared some words of wisdom for those struggling and to pull on your courage. “Working up the courage to share your struggles with one person is a freeing experience, and it takes a lot of courage and bravery to tell your story. But, if you tell it to one person; it can give you the courage to tell another person and another and it will get easier…I want to tell someone that they are not alone, and reaching out and getting help is the best way to start your journey.”
For those interested in ordering clothes from WYL, visit their website here.