Kayla Garland is the nature-loving, hard-working self-starter behind the apparel brand SOVRIN. She came into our fold when she was looking for a printer to work with after experiencing growth and realizing she cannot continue to keep printing her merch herself. We are so honored that she trusts us with her designs and have been able to bear witness to her growth. Get some insights on how she does it all below. You can follow her @sovrin_
How did you make the jump into doing SOVRIN full-time?
It was a bit of a process! I started SOVRIN when I was managing Hot Topic (don’t laugh!!! haha) Once it gained enough momentum, I quit my job at Hot Topic and then got a part time job working at our grocery co-op Willy Street Co-op. I stayed there for about 6 months and slowly reduced my shifts. By the end I was at the co-op maybe 1-2 times a week. I really loved working there, the people/benefits/environment were amazing! But then finally I left, and became fully self employed!
What were some challenges you faced?
First off, it’s a big step and pretty scary to become fully self employed. Worrying about money, finding my own health care, taxes/book keeping, if I fail, am I making a mistake? So the mental portion was pretty tough, as time when on though I realized that I’m good at what I do, and I love it….and my customers/followers are really loving and enjoying my creations. So it was all worth it.
What were you doing before you did SOVRIN?
Prior to SOVRIN I was working at Willy Street co-op grocery, and before that managing Hot Topic :)
Click on the image to be taken to the Sovrin Website
Kayla is heavily inspired by fantasy and herbalism.
She hopes when you wear her designs you feel like a warrior.
You used to also screen-print your own designs, then decided to make the switch, what gave you the courage to make that decision?
I realized that my core value in SOVRIN is my creativity and marketing. And if I wanted to grow, I needed to focus on that. I mean I do have value in printing…I think i’m pretty good at it ;). I also was getting really burnt out/exhausted printing almost every day on top of creating new designs, managing my website and social media, packaging orders, taking photos, editing my photos, scheduling photoshoots, answering emails, doing book keeping, planning future releases….the list goes on and on. I realized that I could definitely take a big stress out of my life by going through someone I trust (thank you Raw Paw!!) for printing the majority of my designs.
How do you like to recharge?
Being around nature and animals :)
My go-to recharge is being with my horse Whisper and riding….or just hanging out with her! I live on a farm with her in my tiny home, so I can just walk outside and hang out/hop on and run. Other things: gardening, hiking, camping, having fires….essentially anything outdoors or with animals just grounds me and brings me to peace….oh and yoga or working out!
I often find discipline & perseverance are two necessary secret ingredients in pursuing art as a living. What helps you feel focused and grounded in your pursuits?
I will say I’m not very great at this. Sporadically feel grounded and focused entirely in my work. I go to my studio space daily and work/do orders, but if I ever feel a spurt of creativity, I try and roll with it as long as possible….make anything and everything and squeeze every ounce of that out! The other thing that keeps me focused is setting specific dates/end goals. Also having orders, I give myself a specific time frame to get those out so I always hold myself accountable.
Tell us about your background and education.
I went to a tech college (Madison College) and got an associates in Fashion Marketing.
If you could teach a class, what would it be called?
Oh gosh, I don’t even know what it would be called or what I would teach….possibly a creative entrepreneur class? Going over business basics and what you need to bring your creative passions into a successful way of life?
What is something you didn’t learn in school that you wish you would’ve?
EVERYTHING. I love learning so much. I went back to school a few years ago for non credited classes learning lost wax casting (Jewelry), foraging basics, herbalism, medicinal foraging…. I want to learn more about homesteading, survival/bushcraft, agriculture….and always always herbalism. Maybe even more jewelry classes.
A helpful piece of advice you’d give someone starting their own creative business?
Stay dedicated, it is not easy starting a business. It took me working 80 plus hours a week for a long time to get where I am. But if you stick with it and continue to push through, you can do it.
Do you remember the last dream you had, if so wanna share?
My dreams are just so all over the place. One second I’ll be in a bistro drawing, the next I’m eating a taco hanging out with dolphins, and after that maybe the dolphins will turn into puppies and I’m teaching a class about spatulas (not an actual dream, but you get the idea….they usually barely make sense)
Can you remember the first piece of art that had an impact on you?
Yes! Takato Yamamoto had a segment in Juxtapoz….I think I was a freshman in highschool. And I absolutely fell in love with his work. So much so that I got a half sleeve on my left arm based on his work. I adore the intense detail, melancholy, and muted colors.
Social media, often a love-hate relationship for creatives and let’s be honest, everybody, I think. What’s your big love for it?
I love the people I meet, it’s nice seeing that there are other people like me out there. I never felt like I really fit in, especially up through college….so this has really helped me embrace who I really am.
What your big hate for it?
It can be very taxing on my energy. I don’t love being on my phone constantly. And ya know, you will always come across some real sour negative Nancy’s in social media. I’m a super sensitive person, so it’s been a challenge on my personality navigating any negative people/comments and trying to walk away unscathed.
You happen to have a very loyal fanbase, I am sure that was a ton of hardwork to get to that point ~ ~ ~ how do you maintain and grow your fanbase?
I do! And I am so incredibly thankful for all the incredible individuals that support me and my work. I think the biggest thing is being honest and open with your audience. Treat them as you would a friend. I love to show people my process, let them in on as much as possible with what’s happening creatively, what I’m interested in, what I’m learning, what I’m coming out with, but also….I show my weaknesses sometimes too, it’s rare, but I think it’s important to be transparent and show that I am a real person. So many only show the glamorous and filtered side of their lives, and I think the human/realness is really appreciated in media.
What are you listening to: podcasts / bands ?
I haven’t been doing podcasts recently, but I go in spurts! Recently I’ve been listening to Emancipator quite a bit. Otherwise some go-to’s are Fleet Foxes, Local Natives, BORNS, King Woman, Grizzly Bear, Odesza, Ainsley Farrell, Wolfmother, Glass Animals, Myrkur, Ludovico Einaudi, Mt. Wolf….I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to music.
Show you are currently binge watching?
Soooo living in the country I don’t really get TV, but I recently finally watch all of GOT….I want to see the new season but I need to go somewhere to watch it haha!
A book you recommend?
Most of my books recently have just been for informational purposes (plants, foraging, historical imagery) But I loved Annihilation!
A book you haven’t read but want to?
I want to try and make it through “Walden” by Hendry David Thoreau haha!
Recently I loved the new Suspiria (if you see it, just VERY loosely associate it with the original) and Annihilation. Otherwise Evil Dead, (original) LOTR….give me a campy gorey B horror and I’m on board. I also will get on the “girly” comedy train and love Mean Girls and Brides Maids.
Song you got on loop?
“Phantom” by ørka
Melanie Martinez and Halsey…
Are you a fan of memes? If so, what account do you recommend?
I love memes! But I don’t follow any specific accounts…I mainly follow funny animal accounts…..animalsdoingthings, instahusky, kitty_fostering_oz, catsofinstagram….I’m real neat. *nerd face emoji*
Into astrology, if so, What is your sign?
I’m a Scorpio! However I’m super “cuspy” ….If I were born 6 minutes earlier I’d be a Libra. So I signifcantly resonate with both signs.
An it harm none, do what ye will.
How is it living in a tiny home?
I love it! I think what I love most though is the location, and that it’s essentially a small cabin. Living on the farm with all the horses (and donkey) and chickens is wonderful.
Do you think it affects your process?
I do! Since moving out of my apartment I have been so much happier. I really am not made to be in a city.
You prefer water-based ink, we know that you are very earth-friendly, how does sustainability inform your brand?
I just am a lover of the earth and animals. I feel that as a business owner it’s my responsibility to be as eco friendly and ethical as possible. Especially in the apparel world. I do what I can to balance demand and sustainability. I just found and switched over to biodegradable packaging which I’m super excited about! I also try to purchase everything in the states, if it is made overseas I make sure that working conditions/the work place is a good environment for the people. Almost everything that is made overseas is WRAP certified too.
What inspires you to use mystic symbolism in your work?
I’ve always been enamored by symbolism and folklore. I also love creating pieces that the wearer most likely understands, and it acts as protection or a boost of confidence. People who purchase my apparel have a deep connection to the design itself…many customers have said that when they wear my clothing they feel empowered or like they are wearing armor. To most, it’s not just clothing.
We know you just opened a brick and mortar store, tell us about the shop!
Yes! I started Yarrow & Sage co-op with two others: Kristi of Foxtrot and Jessica of Sagecraft Botanicals/AWC. My primary roll was in the visuals/merchandising/planning out the shops layout. The 3 of us did the majority of the demo and building….it was such a fun process. Our members also came around and each helped for about 3 hours each (some more) It was a beautiful community effort. We created the co-op in hopes of providing an affordable storefront space for artists and herbalists. How membership works is the individual applies with info on their brand/website/photos. We find who would be the best fit based on our stores values and aesthetic. Then, when accepted, the individual pays $80/mo, works one 8 hour shift and whatever is sold at the storefront they keep 100% of the sale (minus the credit card processing fee) It’s been such an incredible experience, and it’s a great way for the art community to connect. Recently (just last week) I decided to step down from a curator to a regular member because I felt that I needed to focus more energy on SOVRIN. I’m still a part of the co-op and are on wonderful terms with Kristi and Jess (still friends!) just was a business decision!
Upcoming projects and/or events you’d like to tell us about?
I’m set to have a release on May 29! That’s about it