A Look Behind Melancholy with Gaby Reyes
Melancholy Clothing Brand is one of Erie's premier queer-owned clothing brands. Owned by Gaby Reyes, the company's founder is a 21-year-old non-binary Erie native, who was inspired to create the streetwear brand following a diagnosis of thyroid cancer – maintaining their mental health while coping with their illness. "It took a long time to learn how to love myself, I didn't understand self-care or how to be patient with myself. I needed an outlet for all that I had been suppressing." Reyes reflected.
Elvis Andromeda Maryshine: What inspired you to create Melancholy?
Gaby Reyes: The inspiration for Melancholy came after my battle with thyroid cancer. I was diagnosed at 17 during my senior year of high school. After surgery and multiple rounds of radiation, I was at one of the lowest points of my life when it came to my physical and mental health. I decided that I needed to be honest with myself about my depression and sought out help. Melancholy was born in my dorm room during my first year of college. I was 18 at the time. I had been thinking about ways that I could put my energy into something productive. I wanted it to be rooted in mental illness and that is where Melancholy came from. It was at first going to be a short project just for friends and family but it has slowly grown into more than just that.
EAM: Why did you choose in particular to utilize a clothing brand as the platform for your mission?
GR: I've always seen clothing as a symbolic form of interaction and I wanted to utilize that for the design ideas that I had in mind. I wanted the designs to be conversation starters and in all honesty, I love when people stop me and ask what my shirts mean. When I ship out orders I will write in people's cards that I hope their shirt brings them many new conversations and connections.
EAM: Where do you pull your ideas and inspiration from for your designs?
GR: A lot of the designs have come from personal experiences from my life. One example of that being the Sunflower design. It was inspired by my mother who's favorite flowers are sunflowers. They've been a staple in my life and have represented happiness in a way that is found through growth. When I was beginning my journey with mental illness she would say to me every day that she hoped today would treat me kindly. So it was very important to me to release that design as I felt that maybe many people could resonate with that message. I'd also like to thank Rachel Travis from Steadfast Tattoo as she is the illustrator of the design.
EAM: Can you elaborate on what goes into the preparation to release a new line?
GR: First I have to gather what designs will suit best for the season of the new line. I will ask through polls on Instagram what people would like to see garment wise in a coming drop. Next comes collaborating with the guys over at LeadHead Creative for all of the screen printing of the garments. After everything is printed it is then time to take pictures for the drop. Prior photos have been taken by Alyson Munson and Mackenzie Harvey. I'd like to thank my friend Julia Palmer for being my right-hand woman when it comes to photos and all-around being supportive of this brand. After photos then it is time to post a drop date, post the photos and that's about it.
EAM: What do you love most about the process of preparing a new drop?
GR: I love all the collaboration that goes into a new drop whether that be working with an artist on a commission that will then be turned into a design, a photographer or the guys over at LeadHead. It means a lot to me to work with those within the community and support them and reciprocate that support.
EAM: What type of challenges have you faced owning your own clothing brand in Erie?
GR: One of the biggest challenges that has come with owning Melancholy is that sometimes I get discouraged about the brand itself. Will it be successful? Am I cut out for this sort of work? It can sometimes get the best of me but at the end of it all I love what I do and what it means for others to have Melancholy. I feel like at times because Erie is relatively small that it can be challenging to get an idea out there and have it be received well so I've found that with the help of The Andromeda Agency that tabling at concerts has helped get Melancholy out there to people from all walks of life.
EAM: If someone reading this was thinking about creating their own brand, as a creative what would you say to them?
GR: At least in my experience, I would say to anyone wanting to start their own brand to just go out and start it. I know that can be intimidating because you might not know where to start but it's okay to ask people for help. There are so many people who are ready and willing to support your ideas. There is nothing wrong with starting small. You have to be patient with yourself and the creative process. There will be failures and successes but everything is a learning experience.
Melancholy Brand will be revealing a limited Fall line, available by pre-order only as of October 2nd. When asked to describe the mission Melancholy hopes to accomplish, Reyes stated, "Melancholy hopes to advocate for self-love, mental health awareness and personal growth in its many forms. This also includes promoting inclusivity and diversity. Melancholy represents those who are currently on a mental health journey, those who want to show support with people who are, and anyone who values self-love and personal growth."
Shop and connect with Melancholy Clothing Brand at melancholybrand.bigcartel.com