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Clothing brand with a cause

Tyra Paul's booth at a craft fair inside a school's gym. She sitting at a table filled with t-shirts and sweaters from her business, Drip Avenue 902.
Tyra Paul is an Indigenous entrepreneur that creates stylish clothes and donates 10 per cent of all proceeds to mental health and addiction services.

After a spiritual awakening and entering into recovery from substance abuse, Tyra Paul (Business Admin '18), owner of Drip Avenue 902, felt compelled to share her story and create a clothing line that supports mental health and addictions.

“What's unique about my business is the brand and the meaning behind it, coming from somebody who struggled for years with addiction,” says Tyra. “This is a conversation starter, and it's a brand that helps share resources and shed light on mental health and addictions.”

Drip Avenue 902

“My business officially launched in September 2021. During that summer, I was selling tie dye t-shirts,” says Tyra. “It was something fun to do on a hot day and people really started paying attention to the pop-up shops that I was putting out there.”

Inspired by the positive feedback, Tyra started Drip Avenue 902 and named it to represent trendy fashion and Nova Scotia. The brand includes a collection of Canadian-made t-shirts, crop tops and youth/adult hoodies that are stylish for all genders and two-spirited people.

“It’s a fashionable, safe place that represents Nova Scotia and Indigenous culture while raising funds for various mental health and addiction services,” says Tyra.

Paying it forward

A founding principle of Tyra’s business is that 10 per cent of the annual profits will be donated to mental health and addiction services. Though her business had only been open for a few months in 2021, she donated $500 from that year’s profits to the QEII Foundation.

“I donated $500 to the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation to help develop the 24-hour text e-mental health service line,” Tyra explains. “In 2022, I switched gears and wanted to give back to my own community. Now, 10 per cent of my proceeds go towards mental health services for Pictou Landing First Nations.”

Recovery’s not a straight line

Tyra spent most of her youth living in Halifax Regional Municipality and struggling with addiction. “At one point, felt like I didn’t know if I could make it out,” says Tyra. “I was either going to be on the street, in jail, or dead, and that was the hard reality I had to face.”

In Grade 12, Tyra started to turn things around and apply herself. While at university she began taking medication to help study but it quickly became a problem, and she ended up failing.

Tyra’s substance use escalated into harder drugs, and she started veering back into the party scene. Two years later, she was admitted to a psychiatric program and received a Bipolar 2 disorder diagnosis. While she fought to stay sober for eight months, she relapsed and was admitted to Kentville Valley Regional Hospital.

Determined to overcome her addictions, Tyra reached out to Shawn Leonard, a heart-centred Mi'kmaq Spirit Talker, who gave her the wake-up call she needed.

Education that fits

“Once I realized that I wasn't really doing well in the university setting, I knew I needed more of a close classroom vibe and more interaction with the teachers and other students. That's why I chose to go to NSCC. It was honestly the most fun and best learning experience that I could ever imagine,” says Tyra. 

She credits the College for providing her with the knowledge to run a business — from marketing strategies to accounting and vital computer skills. “For people like me that need that connection and that need those questions answered right away, go to NSCC,” urges Tyra. 

Leading by example

She adds, “Recovery is never a straight line. If you want it badly enough, and if you really put your mind to it, it’s possible. I have a really beautiful business that I put together and it's something I'm really proud of — I did a whole 180.” 

Tyra hopes to expand her current clothing line and eventually start another brand with the same values that can be applied to the rest of Canada, and the world.  

The successful entrepreneur adds, “My favorite part about running the business is meeting customers in person, sharing my story, helping people feel comfortable and building that community of support.”