Deciding to follow your calling may sound appealing, but there can be a lot of uncertainty that comes along with the pursuit. For Kaya Dorey, a resourceful and resilient entrepreneur, the issue at hand was too big to not get involved. She cares about the mark we leave on our planet and is disrupting the fashion industry through a closed-loop conscious apparel lifestyle brand, Novel Supply Co.
Ace: What are you up to? ( Your current hustle )
Kaya: My current hustle is my sustainable apparel line, NOVEL SUPPLY CO., a conscious apparel line providing casual, quality, stylish, every day apparel for the mindful, West Coast adventurer.
NOVEL apparel is designed with the end in mind. We use organic and natural fabrics, thread, dyes and labels so that we reduce our impact on the planet. We believe educating our consumer on how to live more consciously is our responsibility. NOVEL apparel is designed and manufactured in Vancouver, BC, which supports the local economy and ensures ethical production practices are upheld. The aesthetic of NOVEL design is casual, minimalist and comfortable, which ensures that the garments never go out of style. NOVEL collaborates with local artists and features their art and graphics on garments to support and cross-promote their work. Furthermore, we provide education through several touch points with our customers and will ensure radical transparency in our production and supply chains, thus fostering continual brand love and trust.
Ace: Why is this important to you? ( Where did this passion come from? )
Kaya: After doing a project on textiles waste at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, I learned all about synthetic fabrics and how, when you blend them with either natural or other synthetics, you can’t recycle them and they don’t biodegrade. I also learned about all the textiles that are ending up in landfills, and how linear fast fashion is perpetuating the problem at an ever-accelerating rate.
A recent report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that more than half of fast fashion apparel is disposed of in less than a year, and one garbage truck of textiles is thrown into the landfill or is incinerated every second. I learned even more about the micro plastics that shed off our polyester clothing in the wash and eventually end up in our food chain and drinking water. All of this led me to want to work for a brand that cared about protecting people and the planet, but also made cool clothing. I couldn’t find any brands that suited both my style and values, so I decided to start my own company and went on a mission to create a circular model that took responsibility for the products I was making. It was time for a solution that wasn’t the landfill.
Ace: What was your dream job growing up? How do you think this has influenced who you are today?
Kaya: When I was really young, I wanted to be a veterinarian. My grandma once told me that when I was about 5 years old, I saw a dead squirrel on the road and I made her pull over so that we could have a proper burial service for the animal. I have always been a very empathetic person and when I got older that made me want to get into psychology to help people. This changed after my first year of University when I decided to go travelling. I came back and decided I wanted to be in tourism because I loved travelling so much. During this program is where I started learning about sustainability and then this changed my destiny once again.
After learning about climate change and how humans were impacting the planet, I realized that sustainability was my calling. I had to help the planet in some way I just didn’t know how. So, naturally, I enrolled in another program in sustainable business leadership and that is where I learnt all about textiles waste from a project that I did. This was the biggest shift in my journey because I had known nothing about how unsustainable and how unethical the fashion industry really was until that point. I was a consumer. It was this realization that made me want to create an option for people that was made from natural and organic fabrics, and made ethically here in Vancouver. I take into consideration every aspect of the garment and make it as sustainable as I possible can. I have also just launched my take back program AFRESH and am working with a local non-profit to figure out solutions for my textiles waste. We are developing a pillow that will be stuffed with fabric scraps.
Ace: If you could describe yourself in only three words, what would they be?
Kaya: Empathetic, social and change-doer.
Ace: Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
Kaya: I don’t have one in particular, but in general, the collective of women who are changing the game in fashion here in Vancouver. We have a tight knit group that shares resources and believes in collaboration over competition. They inspire me and motivate me everyday with their posts that make consumers question their current behaviours, and choose sustainability and ethical production over massive growth. We support each other and want each other to succeed. To me, this is inspiration at it’s finest.
Ace: How do you empower other women?
Kaya: I would refer you to my answer above.
Ace: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from another woman?
Kaya: Take more risks.
Ace: Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a failure?
Kaya: Trust your gut! I was warned against working with a particular manufacturer and had a very bad feeling about working with them. I couldn’t explain it, but every time I went in, I had major anxiety and felt my heart beating much faster than it normally does. They ended up messing up on a production run and would’t take responsibility for it, or try to fix the problem, and then dropped me as a client. I then had to scramble and find a new manufacturer very quickly and paid to have another small production made, which ended up being quite costly. If I had just listened to my gut, I could have prevented this from happening, but sometimes those are just important lessons you need to learn.
Ace: When you are feeling overwhelmed, what do you do to find peace?
Kaya: Lately, I have taken to keeping my life as organized as I possibly can. I cleaned my whole house, organized all my clothing, purged things I don’t find joy in anymore (like Marie Kondo would do), bought a journal, printed a giant calendar to write out my whole year, hired a business coach, and someone to help with marketing. These are all things that are helping me from getting to the point of being overwhelmed. If I do get overwhelmed though, I meditate or do yoga. I know that I should be doing this more preventatively, but lately, I have been working out at the gym a lot and haven’t felt the need to do it all.
Ace: What legacy do you hope to be remembered for?
Kaya: I want to be remembered for giving everything I’ve got, and creating a business that makes a difference. I want my employees and business partners to remember me as a hard-working, dedicated, inspiring and caring individual. I want my family to remember me as loving and honest. I want my partner to remember me as someone who he could rely on, laugh with, and be the best team ever in raising our kids.