By D. Vienneau (Photo credit: Helena Lines) 

Inspired by their parents’ work and their family’s Snuneymuxw heritage, sister design duo Aunalee Boyd-Good and Sophia Seward-Good are educating future generations through wearable art, traditional language and music. Together, they continue a legacy created by their parents’ artistic works which spans four decades.

Sophia and Aunalee with their mother, Sandra Moorhouse-Good

Their company name Ay Lelum is Hul’q’umi’num for the Good(ayHouse(lelum) of Design—a second generation Coast Salish Design House in Nanaimo, British Columbia. It has been built on a foundation of teachings and knowledge passed down through generations of artists and storytellers.

Mentored in fashion design by Sandra Moorhouse-Good, their mother and a talented painter, the sisters also collaborate with and feature artwork by their father, traditional Coast Salish artist William Good and their brother W. Joel Good.

The sisters incorporate culture and family into every element of their business. Traditional family designs are central to the creation of their fabrics and patterns, family members model their designs and they write and record their own music as part of the design process.

SAY Magazine caught up with this multidisciplinary powerhouse-duo who are not only passionate about design and eco-friendly products, but also about documenting their family traditions and passing them on to the next generation. In this interview, Aunalee and Sophia talk about family, business, their latest collection and their responsibility as educators.

SAY: When COVID-19 hit, all major events, including Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto, were inevitably cancelled. How did that impact the launch of your new collection?

Aunalee: When the pandemic hit, we thought this collection would never see the light of day. We had no choice but to pivot to the digital world, so we created a photo and video launch campaign that enabled us to maintain engagement with our customer base. We kept the video very personal, within our community and our family, and did the launch ourselves. We also recorded all the music, which was produced by Rob the Viking. With the support of many networks, our latest collection Yuxwule’ Sul’sul’tun~Eagle Spindle Whorl was successfully designed and taken to market.

Supernatural eagle bringing sunlight to the People dress. Artwork by William Good.

SAY: What does your newest collection represent?

Sophia: According to the teachings of our father, when the world was in darkness, the Creator answered the peoples’ prayers and sent the Supernatural Eagle to bring the sunlight to the people—the Supernatural Eagle is represented throughout the collection and featured on Spindle Whorls. Yuxwule’ Sul’sul’tun~Eagle Spindle Whorl also represents the women behind the Spindle Whorl, as universal mothers, life-givers, water carriers, and weavers of life. The Supernatural Eagle is featured with supernatural water figures, like killer whales and serpents, to bring us power and strength.

SAY: What came first, art or fashion?

Sophia: Our dad revitalized the Coast Salish Nanaimo style art form, and in the early ’90s he and Mom started a clothing line. Their vision really started in the late ’80s though when Mom started painting clothing and Dad was doing art and carving. Our family had a vision of a full clothing line.

SAY: What do you love about what you do?

Aunalee and Sophia’s latest collection celebrates women, inspiring hope and strength. We salute them for their commitment to ingenuity and cultural education, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!