Vancouver Fashion Week FW 21 - Interview with Fashion Designers Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good of Ay Lelum (Vancouver Island)

Brand Description - 

Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design is a second-generation Coast Salish Design House from Nanaimo, B.C. This brand of ready-wear and Coast Salish Couture is designed and produced in B.C. by Sisters, Aunalee and Sophia, mentored in fashion design by their Mother, Sandra Moorhouse-Good. They collaborate with and feature artwork by their Father, Traditional Coast Salish Artist William Good and their Brother, W. Joel Good, from the Snuneymuxw First Nation. They incorporate family designs into the creations of their own fabrics and patterns and record their own music as part of the design process. 

Each showcase is inspired by cultural teachings and artwork taught by their Father while following strict cultural protocols. They combine the ancient and traditional art form with modern style, making their couture pieces in their studio home in Nanaimo and manufacturing ready-wear in Vancouver. Ay Lelum has been awarded the distinction of the 2018 Indigenous Business of the Year Award in their category, through the BC Achievement Foundation and Top 5 Best Marketer 2019 through Small Business BC. Ay Lelum is also a Verified Spotify Artist.


Bios- 

Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good are sisters who have taken the teachings of being raised in an art studio, having run and worked in their parents gallery and wholesale business, and being active in events and fashion shows to launch their clothing line, Ay Lelum The Good House of Design. Having been mentored by their mother, artist and designer, Sandra Moorhouse-Good, they carry on the legacy that their parents built through their own garment design.

Having worked in all aspects of a family Design House and Art studio, together they design and create a Traditional Coast Salish clothing line as their parents had. They feature and work with their brother Joel Good and their Dad, William Good to incorporate traditional family designs into their line of wearable art. They are active in the community, always willing to promote Coast Salish culture through their own artistic canvas, Ay Lelum garments. They are passionate about documenting and passing on the traditions and art form taught by their Father, William Good, as well as using eco-friendly fabrics and manufacturing locally. You will often find the sisters set up at various shows or Pop-up-Shops that they announce on their Website and Facebook page, with a child or two "in training", as they had been.

With their showcases in Vancouver Fashion Week since FW2018, the sisters have been dedicated to embracing and sharing traditional Coast Salish art, culture, language and music. While creating ready-wear collections and couture garments, they also hit the recording studio! Having been taught traditional singing and drumming by their Dad, they recorded their own showcase music where they sang, drummed, rattled, and shared Hul'qumi'num language. As well as recording with their Dad, brother and baby Phil, they also had the sounds of their brother Joel carving incorporated into the music. Their Ay Lelum music was all recorded and re-mixed in Nanaimo by Rob the Viking.

The duo also joins their Aunts and cousins in the family Drum Circle, Footprints of the Wolf, performing in the community.


Interview -

Please share a bit about your journey (s) to choose a career in fashion? Where did you both choose to study or how did you gain your skills?

We were raised in an art studio in Nanaimo, B.C., by artist parents and learned numerous artforms growing up. As young girls we were introduced to fashion when we modeled in shows at the local mall (known at the time as Harbour Park Mall) and had our hair and make-up done at the Simpson Sears cosmetic counter. As we grew older, our parents expanded into having retail and wholesale galleries and we were involved in all aspects of the family business, such as coordinating and participating in fashion shows, sales, marketing, manufacturing, and design process. 

Our parents created the first-ever Coast Salish clothing line in the early 1990’s called Ay Ay Mut, and we worked alongside them for many years, which had the greatest impact on our decision to create our own line. After our parents retired, we had a retrospective show at the Nanaimo Museum in 2015 showcasing their 35 year collaboration. This reflection sparked our interest in garment design and we decided to do it ourselves! Although we had a great depth of knowledge in the industry, it was the training and mentorship by our mother, Sandra Moorhouse-Good, that prepared us and assisted us in creating the collections that we do to this day.


What inspired you to launch your own label? What has been your highest moment since launching your line? Why did you choose the name Ay Lelum for your brand?

We were inspired by our parents to launch our own label because they were trail-blazing entrepreneurs and artists throughout our lives. Our Father, William Good, is a Master Coast Salish Artist and our Mother is a trained painter since the age of five years old. We are also inspired by our brother, Joel Good, whose balanced artistic design skills look amazing on the body—he is the perfect combination of our both of our parents’ artistic skill. Carrying on legacy, practicing traditions, following cultural protocols, learning and sharing continues to inspire us to create our clothing line everyday.

The highest moment for us is to see our collection showcases walk the runway. After months of development and design, family collaboration, as well as recording our own music that embodies the imagery that we show through garment design, we share our modern form of Indigenous Storytelling.


We chose our name by sitting down with the family and brain storming names for our brand, which even included a few comical ideas by the little children! We knew that we needed to have a name that represented the multi-generational involvement of our family and our family artwork. We also wanted to use our language, as our parents had done before us, so we choose a name in the hul’q’umi’num language from Snuneymuxw. We decided on Ay Lelum, which translates to “Good House”. This name represents our family art, our fashion and design house, and also a play on Good and Moorhouse. It was perfect!

How would you describe your brand? What is the aesthetic? Who is the customer you design for?

Our brand is shareable, wearable art for all people to wear and enjoy. We design for everybody, from XS-3XL in our ready-wear and have no size limitation in our custom couture. Our garments are inclusive, made with non-ceremonial family art and our brand is culturally appropriate -- made by an authentic Indigenous family from Snuneymuxw First Nation. We also choose eco-friendly fabrics and manufacture in Vancouver and Nanaimo, B.C.


Can you share a little about the artists who you work with in creating your collections?

We work collaboratively with our family in creating our collections. This consists of our parents and our brother, but we also include the younger generation as up-and-coming artists whenever we can.

Can you share something about the new FW21 Collection you'll be showing casing at Vancouver Fashion Week? What was the inspiration? What fabrics and palette did you use?

The pieces in this collection are timeless and classic works of art that tell legends and stories. Although designed for FW20, this collection is pertinent for this season. It features the Supernatural Eagle who was sent by the Creator during the time of darkness to bring the sunlight to the people, bringing hope. As we are still amidst a global pandemic one year later, these garments also feature Supernatural water figures that give power and strength amidst these uncertain times. The collection also showcases the Spindle Whorl, a traditional Coast Salish tool used to spin wool, and it celebrates women as universal mothers, life-givers, watercarriers and weavers of life. 


The ready wear collection is comprised of eco-friendly fabrics like recycled Dintex, Tencel Modal, bamboo, recycled mesh, fleece and poly in dresses, ponchos, tops and jackets. The patterns are designed so the colors coordinate and interchange well with each other, and the collection is available on our website. With social distancing and regulations during COVID-19, our family created this fashion video with a small number of members of our community. 

Do you have a favourite look in this collection? Is there one piece that is a must have piece?

Our Spindle Whorl Jacket is the must-have look! It is long and super-chic with a hood, pockets and a two-way zipper. It is available from XS-3XL in two color combinations and has a thin fleece liner. Made from recycled Dintex, it is not only eco-friendly, but breathable, wind and water resistant! It also pairs amazingly with other items in the collection and there are matching Spindle Whorl face mask options.


Where can readers find your garments? How can they purchase them?

Our ready-wear garments are available on our website: www.aylelum.com and at a variety of local Gift Shops and Galleries that are listed on our website.

Coast Salish Couture is available by custom order.

Links -
Photo Credits (IG Handles) -
  • Photo Credit: Helena Lines @helenalines
  • MUA: Heather Nightingale @hnightiingale1
  • Hair: Sherri White @_sherri_white_
  • Earrings: Giggys Beads Boutique @giggysbeads
© Ay Lelum/W. Good-Protected by Hul'q'umi'num Law

With challenging COVID restrictions still in place, VFW will be offering a digital showcase of fashion films provided by both local and international designers showcasing their latest Fall Winter 2021 collections. Partnerships with several companies will launch this season with the opportunity for you to win stay-cation essentials, yummy treats, healthy-looking skin, and more. Keep a sharp eye out on their Social Media channels to have a chance to enter! For more information and for show schedule (TBA), please visit their website at https://www.vanfashionweek.com/.

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