Orenn Clothing is a First Nations-owned clothing brand run by 19-year-old Bailey Hill from Six Nations. Bailey told the Two Row Times that she creates modern and simple designs inspired by Haudenosaunee mythology.
“When I was a kid my mom read me a book about heroes, heroines, monsters and magic. And we have similar mythological creatures and magic in our culture that I was always really interested in. The book didn’t have too many pictures so I had to imagine what they looked like in my head. Some of those imaginations have made their way into my designs — like the Horned Serpent,” said Bailey.
Bailey lives in Vancouver during the school year but met with the Two Row Times over Zoom to chat more about her brand.
TRT: Where did the name Orenn come from?
BH: It’s short for my Indian name. I didn’t think everybody would be able to pronounce that easily, so I shortened it. It means ‘carry a song.’
TRT: I see you had some items for sale at Chiefswood. Where can someone find your products?
BH: Chiefswood Park opened an in-person store featuring local artists’ work. I put some items in there, but normally I operate online and through Instagram.
TRT: Why did you make the Onkwehon:we collection?
BH: I thought it was really important to celebrate who we are. I created the Onkwehon:we collection in response to the discovery of the 215 children found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential school and I wanted to say I know our people are resilient. Despite countless efforts to erase our culture, we are still here fighting to keep our culture and languages alive. We were here. We are still here. We are resilient.
TRT: What made you want to start designing?
BH: I’ve always wanted to own a business and be my own boss. During the pandemic, I got back into drawing and I wanted to make some extra money so I thought a clothing brand was a good idea. I landed on the idea of including some of our mythology into my designs and I went with that. I wanted to create what feels like a high-end clothing brand.
TRT: Do you design the artwork, the clothing or both?
BH: First I was just doing the artwork and I would send the designs to someone else to put it on the clothing. But then I moved to screen printing it myself. And I’ve done some of my own embroidery. On a recent collection, I outsourced the embroidery because it was so large. In the future, I want to start designing and manufacturing my own sweaters and more clothing.
TRT: What types of clothing do you sell?
BH: High-quality loungewear. Hoodies. Sweatpants. T-shirts.
TRT: How would you describe your aesthetic?
BH: I would describe my aesthetic as very minimalistic with a hint of modern luxury.
TRT: What would you say your style is not?
BH: It’s not something you are going to find at a place like Hot Topic. Definitely is more of a Zara or Aritzia feel.
TRT: What goals do you have for Orenn Clothing over the next few years?
BH: Over the next few years I want to have my own store and want to move toward manufacturing my own clothing; design the inseams and choosing the fabric. I want to continue using high-quality fabric and educating my customers through my cultural designs. That was always one of my goals; to educate both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
TRT: What is your favourite part about being a designer?
BH: My favourite part is drawing and creating the designs. I also really like the social media aspect.
TRT: What advice would you give someone who wants to start something similar?
BH: Take advantage of social media as a form of marketing. A good social media presence and consistent posting is how I grew my business to what it is now and I also suggest investing in branding. Everyone appreciates a clear brand aesthetic.
TRT: What does it mean to you when you see non-Indigenous people wearing your designs?
BH: Honestly I encourage it. I feel like the educational aspect of my brand is important. I create for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. If a non-Indigenous person wants to put in the effort to learn about our stories and mythology, it creates an opportunity for my culture to be shared and talked about and explained.
TRT: What are you passionate about apart from clothing?
BH: I have another small business that I started around same the time as the clothing brand. I do acrylic nails and bio gel nails, which are like the fake ones that go really long. I’ve been doing that for a while now and I think once school is done I would like to keep both the nail and clothing businesses going.
Check out Orenn Clothing on Facebook and @orrenclothing on Instagram!