As a central value to Nora Swimwear, the blog will be used weekly to feature and celebrate women who are doing something they are proud of.
This week is Kayley, who turned an idea into reality that is impacting people worldwide.
Tell me about yourself and what you do!
I’m the co-founder & CEO of Wear Your Label, a fashion brand that designs positive products to create conversations around mental health. I’m also a public speaker, writer, model and creative freelancer. I’m super passionate about branding, content marketing, copywriting, and visual storytelling; and I’ve always been an advocate for social change. I love brands that combine high quality design with a positive social impact – Nora definitely fits that bill. <3 I share personal insights and content on my blog: kayleyreed.com
What made you want to pursue being a ‘girlboss’?
Honestly, it kind of just happened. I didn’t study business, and I never really planned to start a company – but when you’re passionate about something, and surround yourself with the right people, things tend to come together….
Throughout my university degree, I became really interested in fashion and sustainability; I did writing and social media internships with a handful of fashion startups and became immersed in the fashion scene in Atlantic Canada as a model. In my final year of university, I was accepted to do my Masters in Fashion Studies at Parsons New School of Design; it was literally my dream program, at my dream school, in a dream city.
But at the same time, I was recovering from an eating disorder, and had developed a small idea with my friend (now, co-founder) Kyle, to create a fashion line that would raise awareness for mental health and give back to mental health initiatives. After spending the summer developing what is now Wear Your Label, I turned down Parsons to jump in full-time and “just see” what could happen with this idea. 2 years later, and it’s been non-stop.
What is your favorite thing about running your own company?
I think that it’s ever-evolving. No two days are identical, there’s consistently new challenges, and opportunities, and (at the startup stage) you never really know what could happen next. We’ve gone from two kids screen printing clothing in a small studio in Fredericton, to working with celebrity ambassadors, partnering with retail leaders like Joe Fresh, and shipping to countries all over the world. It’s an incredible, whirlwind of an adventure. And despite the ups and downs of the roller coaster, it’s totally worth the ride.
What is the most challenging thing- and how can you give advice to on that to help others starting out?
It’s ironic: building Wear Your Label has been both the absolute best, and worst thing for my mental health. And I think that’s a big challenge that nobody talks about: starting a business isn’t easy. It’s stressful, it’s trying, it’s unpredictable, and it can seriously take a toll on your mental health. The start-up life – the hustle – is so overglorified right now, and I think reminding people that success looks different to each of us – that one customer is better than zero, and every small milestone is worth celebrating – is really important. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of entrepreneurship, and continually want to grow, do more, increase sales/users, whatever it is – but don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary.
What drives you?
People. There’s nothing more rewarding than having an idea, turning it into a tangible product, and seeing it make a difference in someone’s life. We call our customers our family, because we’re all in this fight against stigma together. I’ve been in those dark places where you feel isolated and completely alone, and now being able to create something that helps others feel connected and empowered is such an incredible motivation. We get messages on Instagram and through our website every single day of people sharing their mental health stories, and how one of our products has helped them get through a tough time – it’s a pretty magical thing to be on the other end of that.
What advice would you give others on getting themselves out there?
Be genuine, and live your brand. A lot of our connections have happened super organically by just telling your story to people we meet, and the next thing you know, that person is connected to someone else, and your network grows.
Also – there’s no such thing as an overnight success. And I know it can seem frustrating if you’re working really hard on something for what seems like a long time, and not a lot is coming of it, but every big brand is built through hard work and patience. Press is amazing, and will totally change your life if it’s the right timing and right audience, but the press won’t come if there’s not a good story – and good stories aren’t just about great ideas, but the people and the work behind making those ideas a reality.
Do you believe it is important to empower other women?
Absolutely. Especially in business. I mean, there’s more male CEO’s named John than there are female CEO’s in total. And I think women bring such a unique perspective and set of skills to business that it’s important we empower each other to succeed in this space. From my experience, it can be intimidating to walk into a business meeting full of men, or attend an event with only a handful of women present, but there’s no reason that can’t change.
I’m also a big believer in collaboration over competition. Encouraging and supporting our peers, instead of questioning and criticizing each other. There’s so much strength in community, and you’ll learn so much more by lifting others up than by bringing them down.
What is next for you and Wear Your Label?
Well, Wear Your Label just wrapped an amazing collaboration with Joe Fresh for Mental Health Month (May). So we’re recapping that and strategizing for what’s next! We’re also in the midst of some exciting celebrity partnerships, having just shot a video with Jacob Hoggard (Hedley), and working on a new collaboration with another Canadian artist. This month we’re renovating a new office space for our HQ in Fredericton, which is super exciting for our internal team, and spending the summer working on some cool new things for fall!
Your fave nora swim:
Uggghhh so hard to choose. I love the color of Gigi, but Luna is probably my fave!
Your fave thing to pair with your nora swim:
Lots and lots of rings, and an oversized denim button-down.
--- xx, the nora team