Nanaimo clothing design firm Ay Lelum wins award for excellence in culture – Nanaimo News Bulletin
On April 30, in lieu of a ceremony, the Mayor of the City of Nanaimo, Leonard Krog, personally presented the Culture and Heritage Awards 2021 to this year’s laureates. The city has also posted online video profiles of the recipients. This is the fourth in a four-part series on this year’s winners. To read part 3, click here.
The chimney fills up at the Good Household.
Sophia Seward-Good and Aunalee Boyd-Good of Nanaimo Fashion and Design House Ay Lelum – The Good House of Design are the recipients of the City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Excellence in Culture of This year. They are the last of their family to win culture and heritage awards, after their mother Sandra Moorhouse-Good and father William Good, who respectively won awards for excellence in culture in 2002 and honor in culture. in 2018.
“We didn’t even know we were nominated so it was a bit of a shock and we were really excited,” Sophia said.
“It is so meaningful to be recognized with our parents in the same type of work as them and to honor their legacy,” added Aunalee.
The sisters grew up working alongside their artist parents, who had their own clothing line called Ay Ay Mut, which means ‘beautiful’ in Hul’q’umi’num, the language of the Snuneymuxw First Nation to which they belong. Sophia and Aunalee started designing their own clothes in 2015 when the Nanaimo Museum held an exhibition recognizing their parents’ 35 years of collaborative art. Aunalee said that by approaching collectors to borrow items to put in the exhibit, she realized what her parents’ work meant to people.
“Seeing the impact they’ve had on the arts and culture and how it affects people’s lives, that’s part of what sparked us…” she said. “We couldn’t sew, but it’s its own funny story.”
At first, Aunalee said they didn’t know what to do with t-shirts, and Sophia said that on doing their first magazine cover in 2016, they only had two items of clothing. Since then, Ay Lelum, which translates to “good house,” has continued to exhibit work across North America and made her debut last year at Aboriginal Fashion Week in Toronto.
Ay Lelum is a family project, with clothes bearing designs by their father William and brother Joel. Even the music they play to accompany the fashion shows they record themselves and feature the extended family. Aunalee said, “Part of what we do is take these collaborative efforts from our family and bring them up to the stage and that’s our art.”
“I can’t just whip up a great design. I have ideas about what a drawing would look like, but I don’t have that talent and I certainly don’t have my mother’s talent in painting… ”said Sophia. “I think the hardest part was saying that we are artists, because back when we started out, we sure didn’t see ourselves in the spotlight.”
“Having the vision is what we do,” Aunalee said. “We have the vision for what we can do and then we make it happen. “
Despite their initial lack of experience in the fashion industry, Aunalee said having their parents mentoring them throughout the process made it easier for them to try. Sophia said that one of the best parts of Ay Lelum is the time they spend with their parents.
“Rather than being absent, work outside [from home], our job is to work with our parents and learn from our parents and make sure we keep as much history as possible, ”Sophia said. “And I think one of the nicest things you can have in life is that you can have a paid job spending time with your family.”