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Saanich apparel company shifts into higher gear as India manufacturer moves to for-profit model

Joyye focuses on providing sustainable employment for all genders
Kindred Apparel Inc. founder and owner Alexandra Bouchard is excited about the new direction her supplier in India is taking. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The owner and founder of Saanich-based Kindred Apparel Inc. is excited about the shift in perspective and business model of her supplier in India.

For a dozen years, Kindred, under president Alexandra Bouchard, has been the Canadian distributor for the company formerly known as Freeset.

At 25 and fresh out of school she started Kindred to create and build a Canadian market for them.

“I decided that it wasn’t anything I would ever regret being a part of,” Bouchard said, noting the only difference between her and the women running the business was birthright – being born in Canada.

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At the time the name Freeset – an anagram of sorts for set free – fit with the focus on freeing women from human trafficking.

On Sept. 17 the company completed its shift. Now called Joyye, the manufacturing business is for-profit and its employees are the beneficiaries.

It’s a tonal change globally, Bouchard said, to work with people rather than their past – moving toward joy rather than rescue.

Offering what she calls “beyond free trade,” the business targets the heart of problems such as sex trafficking and addiction.

“We’ve clued in enough to recognize now that poverty is the root,” Bouchard said.

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The Joyye focus is on providing sustainable employment for all genders because they deserve employment, the feeling of a skill or a job well done and a paycheque for that work, Bouchard said.

Coinciding with the Joyye launch, Bouchard also amped up Kindred with a more comprehensive website. Already in the market with large businesses and groups such as schools, clients can now make an order as small as one T-shirt.

Also, aside from the “beyond fair trade” aspect, transparency is crucial to the model, Bouchard said.

At, a patron can trace an item from Kindred’s stock of organic custom apparel back to Joyye to its fabric provider and even in many cases back to the farm the cotton was harvested from.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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