Student Collaboration Turns into Small Business


What started as a collaboration between two apparel design students has turned into a small business for College of Design alumni Heidi Woelfle (B.S. ’16, Apparel Design), Regena Yu (B.S. ’16, Apparel Design) and Abby Zamis (B.F.A. ’16, Graphic Design). Launched last April, WAY the label is a new clothing line that focuses on creating classic, minimalist clothing for women without sacrificing sustainability. Co-founder Woelfle discusses the creation of WAY the label, and what makes it so unique, in this interview.

How did WAY the label get its start?
“Regena and I were both in the Apparel Design Program and we had wanted to collaborate with each for a while because we appreciate each other’s aesthetic. At first, it was going to be a one-time collaboration but then we thought that there might be a place in the market for this kind of clothing. Of course, making clothing and developing a brand are two separate things, which is how Abby got involved. Abby studied graphic design at the college and Regena knew her and her work, so we reached out to her. She’s done all of our branding.”

WAY the label

How would you describe your line?
“It’s sustainable modern classics, with some slight trend influence. We wanted to see sustainable clothing that has some influence from trends, but we knew the pieces couldn’t be completely trendy because then they would go out of style quickly. Instead, we find subtle ways to incorporate current trends while keeping the pieces timeless enough to stay in a wardrobe for years at a time.”

What makes WAY standout from other clothing lines?
“The details. There are small details in the clothing that make our pieces really special. For example, last spring we made some coats out of upholstery fabrics and lined them with silk organza, which not only made the coats stand out but made them cool and breezy for a spring and summer coat. Our pieces have lots of small details like that that are really thought out but look effortless.”

WAY the label 2

How do you keep WAY the label sustainable?
“We produce our clothing using deadstock fabrics, which are fabrics left over from manufacturers. We source most of our fabrics from SR Harris Fabrics, a local warehouse. We also buy our fabrics in limited quantities and produce only enough to use up all of our fabric. We’re willing to risk running out of pieces rather than overproducing and having extra stock go to landfills.”

Where can people find your clothing?
“The main place to buy our clothing is online, we also put together pop-ups at events like the Minneapolis Craft Market.”

WAY the label 3

Are there plans to have a storefront?
“Probably not our own storefront, but we’d like to get our pieces into other stores. There are a lot of great local retailers and even places across the country that focus on handmade goods and sustainably made goods so we’d like to see our line in those places.”

Do you have a favorite piece in your line?
“My favorite piece is a coat we have called the Kaya coat. We created it last spring in one fabric and brought it back this fall in two new fabrics.”

Learn more about WAY the label on their website and Instagram.

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