“I hope that everyone has taken some positive learning from this pandemic. It has been really inspiring to see people supporting local businesses as much as they can. I hope that people continue to put their money where their mouth is by supporting local and supporting sustainable businesses. These are the people that are the most passionate and are putting the most effort in to make sure their businesses are not impacting the planet in a negative way. It’s important to have the least amount of negative impact on the planet because we only have one. We have to treat it with respect.”
Growing up and living in North Vancouver a majority of her life, Kaya’s appreciation for nature and outdoors has instilled a passion to protect the beautiful place we live in. Before NOVEL, she worked for a few outdoor/workout focused apparel companies based in Vancouver but she had never dreamt of starting her own apparel line. Her view on the fashion industry was turned upside down when she learned more about climate change and sustainability in a school project.
VOICE(V): “How did NOVEL SUPPLY CO. start?”
Kaya(K): “I took a course in sustainable business leadership at BCIT where I did a project on textiles waste and learnt about how much and where it was all going and what was happening to our clothing at the end of its life. There was a study in 2017 reporting that fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste being dumped in the landfill each year! I took a good second look at all my clothes in the closet and it was shocking that none of them were recyclable or biodegradable because they were made of synthetic or blends of synthetic fabrics. I started to do further research on what a majority of clothes are made out of and their consequences. Clothes that are made of synthetics not only end up in the landfill but also micro plastics that are released from our clothing in the wash have a negative impact on the environment and on marine life. These microfibres eventually end up in our food chain and drinking water.
All of this led me to work for a brand that cared about protecting people, the environment and the planet. However, I didn’t want to sacrifice my style to work for the company that shared my values. Eileen Fisher was one of the apparel companies that came really close and was very inspiring but their style didn’t suit me personally. So, I decided to start my own clothing line.”
V: “What does NOVEL SUPPLY stand by?”
K: “I wanted to create a sustainable, ethical, locally made and rad clothing option. I try to find the most sustainable and ethical option that I could find for my fabrics from threads, buttons, hangtags, to attachments of hangtags. Every detail matters. I source my fabrics from an ethical U.S. supplier.
I initially wanted everything to come from Canada but through my research, only a very few fabrics are produced here and none that I wanted to work with. All other aspects of manufacturing including dyes, screen printing, and sewing are done right here in Vancouver to meet safe and ethical working standards. The styles that I make are very simple, casual, comfortable, gender neutral, and all made of hemp and organic cotton.”
V: “Why hemp?”
K: “Hemp is the most sustainable fiber there is. It requires 30% less water than cotton to grow. It grows much faster and much more in a smaller amount of space. It doesn’t usually require pesticides or herbicides to grow. It is also very durable and is resistant to bacteria so it has anti-odour properties. 100% hemp is not ideal in terms of pricing and texture, so I use a blend of hemp and organic cotton. Organic cotton is still not the greatest industry, in my view, but it is still better than other alternatives. A blend of hemp and organic cotton has the best of both worlds.
I use a blend of 30% hemp and 70% organic cotton for my t-shirts and tanks to make them super soft and breathable. My crewneck sweatshirt is thicker and cozier, so I use a blend of 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. Because hemp is such a strong fiber, it lasts for a lot longer. I still have a crew from my first production 5 years ago that is in great condition!
I want to shift people’s values and how they shop for clothing. You might spend a few hundred dollars more for a pair of high quality jeans but it will last you for decades. Instead of buying a fast fashion every season, why not invest on timeless, high quality items that last?”
Kaya also believes that it is up to the brands that are making apparel to take responsibility for it at the end of its life. She’s created a take-back program called AFRESH for all her clothing. She knows exactly what to do with her worn and torn apparel when you send it back or drop it off. If it is still in good condition, it can be donated or Kaya can upcycle it to little bags, stuffing for pillows! You will get a 10% discount on your next purchase when using her AFRESH program. It is a great take back program to keep her apparel out of landfills as long as possible, although she still hasn’t received many garments back from her customers. She is assuming that they are still wearing them well since hers are still in great condition from her first production.
V: “Where can people find NOVEL SUPPLY?”
K: “People can shop on my online store and the latest lineup is available exclusively at United Strangers Coffee. It is part coffee shop and a part corner store with locally curated products on Mount Seymour Parkway. I also work there and help to curate the products. The owners, Christine and Joe, and I are all very passionate about the environment and we have a lot in common. Their space is perfect for NOVEL because people can come, see and feel it to know the quality and how it is different from other clothing lines. I love talking to people and engaging in the conversations on why it is so important to make more conscious fashion choices.”
Her recent items are limited Indigo Tie Dye Cabin Crew and Sky Blue Organic Cotton Weekend Warrior toque! Head over to the coffee shop, try and see her NOVEL goods while you’re grabbing a great cup of coffee too. You will probably see the maker herself.
NOTE: Keep an eye out for baby toques just in time for Kaya’s baby due this fall!
VOICE Community: United Strangers Coffee