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Young alumna raises mental health awareness through clothing line

Author: Young Alumni

Posted on Nov 12, 2015

Category: Inspiring Stories , UNB Fredericton , Young Alumni

Co--founders Kayley Reed and Kyle MacNevin at NY Fashion Week. Photo: Tammy Novak 

From the classroom to the runway, UNB young alumna Kayley Reed (BPhil ’14) and Kyle MacNevin have given fashion a new meaning through their clothing line Wear Your Label (WYL).

Launched in the summer of 2014, WYL is turning passion into impact with clothing designs that spark positive conversations around mental health.

The brand includes a collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts and leggings, which sport phrases such as “Sad But Rad” and “Self-Care Isn't Selfish,” and include encouraging tips for how to take care of yourself on the clothing's garment tags.

“They're conversation starters,” says Reed. “The slogans are pretty bold and that gives the wearer the opportunity to start that conversation, share their personal story or talk about the brand.”

Reed and MacNevin met when working together at a local mental health organization in Fredericton. They opened up to one another about their personal experiences with mental illness and soon developed the idea for Wear Your Label.

“We realized there wasn’t really anything tangible that could help create conversations around mental health,” says Reed. “Both being fashion lovers we thought what better way to raise awareness than through the clothing we wear every day.

Since launching the brand last summer, WYL has received widespread media attention from outlets such as People magazine and MTV. This fall they also landed  spots in Toronto's Startup Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week’s 'Emerging Designers Showcase,' where they uniquely cast 'role models’ and told stories of mental health on the runway.

Most recently, WYL won Startup Canada's 2015 Sustainable Development Award for Atlantic Canada and was chosen as one of six startups to join the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation.

Reed and MacNevin  attribute much of the Wear Your Label’s success to UNB’s Summer Institute, where they received funding and mentorship throughout the summer of 2014 to work on Wear Your Label full time. During a visit to UNB Saint John this fall, MacNevin called the Summer Institute the “launching pad” for their business.

“Often times people think that success happens overnight when they see it from the outside in, but it can take months or years of hard work to make one big thing happen for you or your company."

As the co-founders spend the next year focusing on sharing the story of WYL, Reed stresses the value of hard work and collaboration.

"My advice to fellow UNB alumni and aspiring entrepreneurs is to take full grasp of everything that comes your way and work really hard whether it’s for your current job or an entrepreneurial adventure. You may run into obstacles, but being patient enough to deal with the ups and downs is really key."  

Photo: Allie Beckwith