Adam joined the WYL team almost a year ago as a Customer Happiness Intern. In the spring, he came on full-time, and he's been deemed the "Shipping Wizard." Get to know Adam with our latest Q&A:
My favorite memory of working at Wear Your Label has definitely been being able to meet the band Hedley and film with them. The weekend in Halifax was unforgettable and the people I was able to meet made the weekend 10/10.
My favorite piece from the new summer collection is hands down the Rebels Like Themselves T-Shirt because it has a really good meaning behind it: “In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” It has a deep meaning whether it may be mental health or being self-conscious about your body, loving who you are is something everyone should do, so go ahead and be a rebel.
My whole life I've been told to man up, whether I fell and hurt my knee at the age of two or I'm having a break down at the age of 20. The challenge comes when you "man up" and oppress your feelings to the point where they over flow and you explode. This happened to me this past February and it just went downhill from there because I keep telling myself to "man up" and "you have a beard, you can't be acting this way, you have to show you're strong and capable of anything that comes at you", that caused me to become someone I wasn't, I began hurting the others around me and not allowing me to be whole. That was also when I realized that I am allowed to go to those dark places and feel my emotions, no matter my gender, as long as I didn't stay there. I set myself free from that term, man up, and allowed me to be me, beard and all! I think this is a lot of the problem that men face everyday, there is this thick stone wall put up that doesn't allow room for us to breath and eventually that wall tumbles over, crushing yourself and sometimes others.
Mine would have to be being in nature, hands down. There is this feeling that allows you to let everything go and are able to focus on what is around you while what may be troubling you slowly drifts away. The fresh air and the sounds that aren’t the usual sirens or cars allows me to notice other things in life and how I may be struggling, but there are better things out there and to hold on because good things are coming.
My favourite place in the world is the Catalonia Region of Spain where I got to go for 2 weeks in high school. The people there were so nice, Barcelona and the countryside were picture perfect, and the weather was amazing.
My favourite has to be Taco Bell, mostly because it's so good and Beefy Cheesy Potato Burritos are a thing.
I really wanted to be a baker because me and my mom would watch The Food Network a lot and some of the things that were created amazed me.
"Don't listen to them, you do you kid."
Photos: Kelsey Schroeder
As we celebrate our 2nd *official* birthday, our co-founder & CEO, Kayley, shares insights from the past two years building Wear Your Label.
Two years ago, I was a completely different person. I had developed an eating disorder, and was battling inner demons on the daily. The best way I can describe my mental illness, is with this quote:
"It's like fighting a war in which the opponents strategy is to convince you that the war isn't happening."
It took a long time, a lot of work, and a great support system, before I really began to see myself as separate from my illness: it did not define me. When my friend, Kyle, suggested that we start a clothing line to help people take ownership over their mental illness - to effectively "wear their label" - I was hooked. What started as a side project in school, soon developed to be something way bigger than either of us could have imagined (and way more developed than our original idea). We went from screenprinting until 1 am, to shipping orders out to 35+ countries around the world. We were two kids who didn't really know what they were doing, other than that it meant something to a lot of people. When we got featured on Buzzfeed (and MTV, Today, People, etc...) our lives changed, forever.
I consistently had 200 unread emails, partnerships and projects lined up for months, and the task of finding new manufacturing partners (because we were way over our head doing it ourselves). I think at the time it was both a blessing, and a curse, because people thought we were way bigger than we actually were. But it was only ever just Kyle and I, and a couple interns. Sometimes I still don't know how we managed.
When we debut at New York Fashion Week in the fall of 2015, it was an absolute dream. Never in my life would I ever imagined hitting that milestone. I vividly remember the end of the show, walking out, and then crying for 20 minutes backstage because it was so surreal.
As 2015 wrapped up, we began two big partnerships: RBC and Joe Fresh. I was asked to speak at We Day (a dream of mine since being a student in the We Day audience 5 years ago). Our story aired on TV for a month. We did a collab video with Jacob Hoggard of Hedley (whose music got me through high school). And we launched a cross-Canada event series with Joe Fresh, raising $25,000 for Mental Health Month in May. It's been incredible. And it's been intense.
The best, because we've built this amazing community that reminds me daily that I'm not alone. The best, because I hear stories every day - online, and in person - from people who feel inspired by our stories or our products, and are choosing recovery, or choosing to talk about it. The best, because I have met the most amazing, caring, passionate people who have supported me, and Wear Your Label, since day one. The best, because after years of being insecure and unconfident, I finally learned to love myself.
But building Wear Your Label has also been one of the worst things for my mental health, because building a business is really damn hard. And it's something nobody really talks about when you're starting out. Despite recovering from my mental illness, the stress and anxiety from leading something that was growing more quickly than I could manage it is at times extremely overwhelming. There have been days when I come home with tears in my eyes, and no energy to do anything but sleep. Startups are incredibly exhausting, and unpredictable. But, over the past two years, I have learned two things:
It's quite nostalgic to look back over the past two years and see how far things have come. Looking forward gives a sigh of relief. There is so much good to come, and so much growth left for the mental health movement - Wear Your Label is but one small piece of the puzzle. We have some big changes coming, and a big vision for the future. If you're still reading this, I want to say thank-you again, from the bottom of my heart, for sticking with us and supporting us. We wouldn't be here without you. Now, for the next chapter.
Stay strong friends,
Co-Founder & CEO
Wear Your Label
Last week, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) launched their new StigmaFree Company campaign; a company pledge to take a stand against the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and help support those affected by mental health conditions. We're honored and excited to announce that Wear Your Label was chosen as one of the first seven companies to join StigmaFree. Alongside us are global brands like COTY, philosophy, Kenneth Cole and Participant Media.
We launched last week by sharing our story at the NAMI National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Throughout the conference we met some pretty amazing people, doing really awesome things: from a young mental health writer, to a group of guys driving across America in a chicken car to raise awareness for mental health.
One of our favorite moments of the convention was facilitating a workshop with 50 NAMI young people, talking about ways to create these conversations on a larger scale. It's great when we talk about stigma with the people who "get it" but it's a lot harder to create change with people who "don't get it". We're pretty confident that a lot of big things will be happening in the near future, if the people we met are any indication.
To learn more about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, click here.
If you want to get involved, you can take the StigmaFree pledge here.
Definitely going to Los Angeles to shoot the summer collection. It’s always been on my bucket list to go to LA for photography… and going with Wear Your Label? Even better. It was so awesome to be there with the WYL team and shooting on the Santa Monica Pier was everything I imagined it to be. Meeting the role models and the Depressed Cake Shop team and hearing their stories was so inspiring and I think that things like this make you so much closer to people. I love that I can call everyone who I’ve met in Santa Monica and on the WYL team family. It’s such a good feeling to be doing what you love in a place you’ve always dreamed of going. When you’re a young person and all these things are unfolding in front of you that you didn’t think would be happening for a long time, really makes your heart full.
The Self-Care tank! I love the colour and how soft it is. I just love the saying “Self-Care Isn’t Selfish”.
Netflix in bed is a big one. Those days where you know you don’t have any responsibilities and can just be lazy and eat a ton of junk food. My equally favourite form of self-care that I don't get to do as often is travelling. I love the whole airport atmosphere and I love being in a new place and exploring a new city, finding cute cafés and taking photos!
I find myself always trying to find the right thing to say to someone, but I’ve learned that listening is such a big help. Be there for them. Listen. I’ve found that if you focus on listening rather than trying to think of the right thing to say, you’ll be able to help them overcome what they’re going through.
There is going to be some rough patches. But those rough patches are temporary and you’re strong. You’ll get through the dark, scary, rough patches and you’ll be stronger than ever. You have a support system, people who love you. You’ll be okay.
Boyfriend jeans, always.
Potato skins... or anything with potatoes!
Mexico or Los Angeles.
Either Grey's Anatomy or The Office.
Meet the #WYLfamily. Addie began as an intern in February and in May she came on full time as our Executive Assistant. From organizing events to answering e-mails, she helps keep the good vibes flowing and the ship afloat.
WYL: Tell us a little bit about yourself
AV: Hi, my name is Addie and I have the best job in the whole wide world- Wear Your Label’s Executive Assistant. I am also a novice artist and model and a recent graduate from St. Thomas University! When I'm not in my favourite place (aka at work) I love going on adventures with my friends and writing poetry.
WYL: What’s your connection to mental health?
AV: I have many connections to mental health; some of my best friends live with schizophrenia, bi polar disorder and are survivors of sexual assault. Personally, I have had a very long history with self-injury and I am very happy to say that as of December of this year I will be 3 years self-injury free! It was a long road to recovery for me, as self-injury was my go-to way to cope for the majority of my life. When I came to the realization that it wasn’t something that I wanted to continue with, it was a drastic shift. Because I didn’t have my outlet to handle stress any more I began experiencing what seemed to be random “stomach migraines” on and off for two years, which later turned out to be the beginning of a stomach ulcer. My doctor not only prescribed me medication to rebuild my stomach lining, but also prescribed me self-care.
WYL: Why is raising awareness about mental health important to you?
AV: It was so difficult for me to ask for help when I needed it. And when I finally did, it felt like the whole world was against me. Those around me actively discouraged me from seeking help and even when I reached out to my doctor I wasn’t taken seriously. The stigma was so overwhelming for me, even where I self-injured was based off the fear of someone finding out. It wasn’t until about a year after I stopped that I became open with my mental health struggles and my whole world changed. If sharing my story can make just one person find peace within their struggle then we are that much closer to ending the stigma.
WYL: Any advice for someone who might be struggling with mental illness?
AV: Of course!
1.Talk about it! When you are struggling it is so easy to get lost in your own mind, but when you speak up and let those around you know how you are feeling or what you are going through, it can make a whole world of difference.
2. Feel every feeling. Do not let someone tell you that you are being over-dramatic or that your feelings are somehow invalid. As Dumbledore once said "Of course, it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" Allow yourself to experience every emotion that comes your way- it will put you on the fast track to finding your most effective forms of self-help.
3. Keep going. It may be difficult to see it when you're in a tough spot but I promise that one day everything will be more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Your pace is not important, baby steps are still steps in the right direction.
WYL: Fave thing about working at WYL?
AV: There is literally so many things that I love about my job! I feel so lucky to work for Wear Your Label – my roommates think I’m bizarre because I get so excited on Sunday evenings knowing that my work-week is just around the corner.
If I had to choose one thing it would have to be responding to the heartfelt emails that you all send to us! It warms my heart to hear all of your stories of strengths and struggles and I love being able to sprinkle positivity all over the place, especially to people who may really need to hear it.
WYL: What's something random about you?
AV: I eat like a child! Pizza, mac n cheese, tacos…. Terrible food is the way to my heart!
WYL: What is your favourite thing about yourself?
AV: My positive attitude! It took me a long time to get to the place I am so it is something I really cherish.
WYL: What's your fav song RIGHT NOW?
AV: "Alaska" by Maggie Rogers - if you haven't heard it yet look it up!
WYL: Favorite Wear Your Label piece?
AV: ‘Stressed but Well-Dressed’ will forever be my favorite WYL saying, but my favorite item that we have right now is the Self-Care Isn’t Selfish tank in that beautiful maroon colour - it looks fab on everybody!
Photos: Kelsey Schroeder
This time last year, during what we now call "The Buzzfeed Era" we were picked up by a bunch of international press outlets; Wear Your Label (and our lives!) changed overnight. We went from a couple orders a day, to 600 back orders overnight - it was a total whirlwind (and still is!). But the best part of it all wasn't the sales or new followers - it was the connections we made. One in particular has grown to be a really meaningful partnership:
Lead by co-creator, Valerie Van Galder, Depressed Cake Shop is a collective pop-up of bakers (and change makers) raising money and awareness for mental health with grey-themed cakes + more. They've popped up at cities around the globe and have raised over $100,000 for mental health charities.
Valerie reached out to us last May, and our first collaboration finally came to life a year later!
We designed an exclusive Depressed Cake Shop by Wear Your Label tee for Mental Health Month (May!). The inspiration came from the famous cakes DCS is known for: a grey cake that, when you cut into it, a rainbow filling is revealed. We chose a super comfy grey tee with rainbow heathered speckles for a "rainbow sprinkles" effect. Each tee also includes our self-care hem tags with little reminders to take of yourself throughout the day.
The tee was launched at a collab pop-up shop in Santa Monica with process benefiting the St. Joseph Centre.
The St Joseph Centre does some incredible work with individuals experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges (the two often go hand in hand). Our team was excited to attend their annual fundraising gala, and Kyle and I were honoured to speak about Wear Your Label - how just two years ago, we were both struggling with mental illness, and through Wear Your Label have been able to turn those struggles into something positive and impactful.
The Depressed Cake Shop raised $5,000 - plus a matching $5,000 donation - for St Joseph! The Centre also raised a whopping $590,000 at the evening gala!
You can also buy one our limited edition Depressed Cake Shop tees here. All profits from these tees will support the Depressed Cake Shop's mission to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Stay tuned for more with Depressed Cake Shop!
Photos by Kelsey Schroeder
Last weekend, we launched our first Fredericton retail partnership with Robert Simmonds! We're so excited to finally have a physical presence in our hometown. The Robert Simmonds team has been so supportive of Wear Your Label, helping us through growing pains, and now carrying the new Summer Line.
WYL: Tell us a bit about the boutique?
We're re-introducing the #WYLfamily, from co-founders to new employees. Taking it back to where it all started. Kayley is the co-founder & CEO at Wear Your Label. She is recovering from an eating disorder, and met Kyle while volunteering at a local mental health organization. The two shared their personal experiences with mental illness and their frustration with the stigma, and soon the idea for Wear Your Label was born.
I was just finishing my undergrad degree at Renaissance College (University of New Brunswick). That year, I had been accepted to do my Master's in Fashion Studies at Parsons New School of Design. It was literally my dream program - fashion, New York - and I got a pretty great scholarship to attend. At the same time, Kyle and I got accepted to a business accelerator for what was, at the time, just the beginning inklings of Wear Your Label. We didn't have a product, we barely had a brand, and we had no idea what we were doing with it or if it go anywhere. But the Summer Institute offered 3 months of full-time funding and mentorship to launch Wear Your Label - which was also a dream. We were at a cross roads: go back to school, or jump into this start up that at the time had no proof of concept. I decided to defer my Master's and take a chance on Wear Your Label, knowing that if we didn't do it then, we likely never would. Best decision I ever made.
Honestly, no. Our original idea was to create one line, launch it as a campaign, raise money, give back, be done. But we realized pretty quickly that there was so much opportunity to do more with it as soon as we put it out there. People began reaching out to us, sharing their own mental health stories, and building a community around Wear Your Label. Then, last May, "The Buzzfeed Era" totally changed our lives. Our story got picked up by international press outlets, we had hundreds of new customers, and all of a sudden we were this international brand. The real deal. It's been growing ever since, and I still can't believe how far we've come: from collaborating with brands like Joe Fresh, to working with people like Sarah Fisher and Jacob Hoggard. Sometimes Kyle and I just sit back and go "remember when we were screen printing shirts by hand til 2am and now we have "people" working with their "people". What is our life?!"
There's really a million things we'd love to do, from collaborations to physical retail spaces... But one of the big goals is to take Wear Your Label from this "First World problem" brand to an international player in the fight against stigma. As common as stigma is here, at least it's a conversation that's happening more and more, and access to services is slowly improving. In most places around the world, the stigma is so severe that there's zero discussion, zero services, and zero help for those who need it. The result is hard to comprehend. Mental illness is the largest group of disabilities worldwide, and yet so many cultures don't even acknowledge depression or schizophrenia as real things. In the future, we're planning partnerships with organizations in some of these countries to help bring conversations around mental health to light in a positive, educational way. But for now, we still have a lot of work to do here at home.
Showing at New York Fashion Week was pretty spectacular. I think I cried for 20 minutes after it ended because I just couldn't believe everything came together in such a meaningful way.
More recently, we had a strategic planning session with our mentors at the beginning of May to talk long-term, and just realizing the amount of support, and talented people behind us, who are all in, means the world. I've never been so confident that is just the beginning.
When I was younger, I was hugely inspired by Craig Kielburger. I volunteered and raised money for Free the Children, and thought that Me to We - combining business and giving back - was just brilliant. Now, I've spoken at two We Days and it's kind of come full circle.
But, I don't know if one person has been a major influence...rather every single person I work with, and have surrounded myself with personally, has shaped who I am and how I view things. I've honestly met the most amazing people through Wear Your Label, and I feel grateful every single day. My family, friends, teachers, Kyle, our team and mentors. I can't do it without them.
Dog or cat?
Both!! But really - sloth... All the animals!
Of all time - Mr. Brightside by the Killers. Right now, White Iverson by Post Malone or Anything by Hedley (I've been listening to them nonstop since our collab!)
Coffee or tea?
Morning: coffee. Before bed: tea.
Favourite piece from WYL?
The It's Okay Tanks and our gemstone bracelets. And the Self-Care Tips Pillow ❤
Photos by: Kelsey Schroeder
Last year, we began working with RBC as #changeagents to share our story, raise awareness + inspire young people across Canada to take action towards their own passions and goals. RBC + Hedley have teamed up to spotlight #changeagents across Canada - and we were so excited to partner on a video with Jacob Hoggard to talk about what it means to be a #changeagent AND to surprise one of our amazing Role Models with a visit from Jacob.
Check out the behind the scenes video:
Just a few short months ago photographer Lance Kenneth Blakney and surface designer Dee Wilkie came to us with an idea: to create a raw, conceptual photo series that would share the stories of 9 Role Models and how they experienced mental health issues.
The project would recreate the mental health issues portrayed in The Bracelet Project by casting role models for each category who have been personally affected by the label they would be representing. Dee created hand-dyed silk pieces that corresponded with the same colours in the Bracelet Project - and the results are pretty magical.
Over 200 people applied. Only two were male; If nothing else, this speaks to how strong the stigma still stands. After a few long meetings, and late nights, we finally decided on 9 amazing Role Models to represent Addictions, ADHD, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Mood Disorders, Personality Disorders, PTSD, Self-Injury and Survivors of Sexual Assault.
What started out as a conceptual photo project, soon evolved into something greater. We began filming interviews with each Role Model, prior to the photo shoot, so that we could get to know their story and create a safe, comfortable space for what was to come.
Grab a blanket.
Grab a cup of tea.
Prepare to feel all the things.
View the full project & photo series here: www.define-project.com
Thank you again to our brave Role Models who shared their incredible stories, we are so proud of all of you for opening up so honestly. And a big thanks to Dee (for your endless passion and beautiful work) and Lance (for being the all-around creative genius that pulled this together.)