Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good grew up surrounded by art. Their mother, Sandra Moorhouse-Good, is an artist, designer and painter. Their father, William Good, is a master Coast Salish artist. Growing up in such a creative environment, the sisters became drawn to the idea of starting their own clothing line. This is the story of Ay Lelum, The Good House of Design.
“Both my sister and I were raised in an art studio, so entrepreneurship was a way of life for us and our family.
“Our parents later expanded into wholesale and retail galleries and we worked alongside them, so pursuing entrepreneurship was natural for us.”
Taking the First Steps
In summer of 2015, Aunalee and Sophia’s parents held an exhibit of their art at the Nanaimo Museum. The pair had collaborated on works for 35 years and showcased an Anniversary Collection of AyAyMut Clothing. The clothing line AyAyMut, which means beautiful in the Hul’q’umi’num language, proved a huge success, and was displayed in fashion shows in locales as diverse as Victoria, Toronto, Arizona and New Mexico.
It inspired Aunalee and Sophia to get into the family business and start their own clothing line.
“We had put on an exhibit at the Nanaimo Museum in 2015 that celebrated our parents’ 35-year artistic collaboration.
“This sparked our interest to continue on their legacies.”
Sandra continues to mentor her daughters to this day by assisting in garment design, patterning and production for Ay Lelum.
“Our biggest resource has been our parents and the experiences that we had, and learned, working for them.
“Though we’ve been pretty independent, we also found NEDC to be a great start-up resource in our region.”
2020 For Ay Lelum
Like many other businesses, Ay Lelum has had a rollercoaster year so far. 2020 started off strong, with Aunalee and Sophia named among the Top 5 Finalists for the Best Marketer Award at the Small Business BC Awards. They even contributed the fantastic music we opened the ceremony with:
And, while they may not have won the trophy, making it to the final stage was a fantastic experience.
“It was a pretty thorough application process! But it was an honour to be selected as a Top 5 Finalist in Best Marketer, and we met so many great people through taking part.”
Shortly after the Awards ceremony, the impacts of COVID-19 were felt across our province. No business has been immune from the pandemic, and it’s forced a change of 2020 plans for Ay Lelum.
“With the future being so uncertain during the pandemic, we are focusing on the here and now, to be successful during COVID-19 and to continue to expand our brand.”
A few short years into their entrepreneurial journey, the dynamic duo behind Ay Lelum continue to go from strength to strength. When you get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, it can be hard to step back and appreciate how far you’ve come. With that in mind, we asked Aunalee and Sophia what their biggest successes have been so far.
“Building a popular and successful brand has been our biggest success so far. We’ve also been showcased at several fashion weeks.
“Our clothing is sold on BC Ferries, and we were awarded the 2018 BC Achievement Award for Indigenous Business of the Year in our category.”
And, how can people across our province show their support for Indigenous businesses?
“You can support Indigenous businesses in several ways. You can purchase their authentic products, and you can support them by sharing their social media posts.”