Here’s Why a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran Founded Accessories Brand Brass & Unity

When self-trained fashion outsider Kelsey Sheren launched the label in 2016, she was inspired by an intense personal aspiration. At the age of 18, she applied to join the Canadian Armed Forces after a “serious” encounter with WWII. “I wanted to go to the military because I met someone while in school in Ottawa,” she recalls. Sheren was studying tourism travel services at Algankin College to escape the lives of her small town Ontario, and shortly after her classes began, she found herself on a bus with an elderly veteran.

Canadian Armed Forces Veteran Founded Accessories Brand Brass
Canadian Armed Forces Veteran Founded Accessories Brand Brass

“I wanted to know his story, so I started asking him questions,” Sheren says. “The next thing I knew, I got off the bus and was on my way to leave college, and I joined the army the next day. After our conversation with this woman on the way I saw the world, There was widespread influence… it was not necessarily what she said was hypnotic; it was the way she drove herself. She must have been in the 90s — she had a chest filled with medals and a crook. . She looked like she had lived a thousand lives, and there was something on her face that was intriguing to me. I never saw her again, but meeting her was a turning point in my life. I was there to meet her. . I firmly believe that. ”

Sherren moved to Afghanistan soon after being admitted in late 2007. A year into her seizures, she was injured and was sent home after suffering a severe post-traumatic stress disorder. “I can’t work anymore,” she says. In addition to the physical and mental trauma (which he still suffers today), Sheeran moved back to Canada “without help and no assistance” from the military. She says, “I contemplated committing suicide every day for six months and almost followed it several times. ”

Treatment for Sheren’s trauma included a cocktail of drugs that left her feeling “zoned”, but she received more constructive suggestions during a therapy session after relocating to British Columbia with her husband. “My doctor is a veteran who served during the massacre in Rwanda,” she says. “He knows how to handle people like me.” She recommended that she try art therapy, which “seemed hilarious to me”, she recalls, noting that she grew up after a more active search, such as Tae Kwon Do and Motocross .

She decided to give it a try as she was spending most of her day pacing or staying in bed. The moment of the light bulb came when she woke up from a dream about starting a jewelery business where the proceeds from the sale went to charity. Sheeran, who says she had never worn fashion jewelery before starting Bra and Unity, suddenly found herself studying the healing properties of crystals and ways to dress these elements in something wearable. “My husband went to work at seven in the morning and came home at five and I was in the same position – still working,” she says. “And I didn’t have flashbacks all day.”

Her brand has since achieved international acclaim, and has patented the use of spent casing and tablets in her jewelery and sunglasses. Is particularly meaningful to Sheeran because it was the way in which she could claim a sense of identity during her military service. “When I was in the military, sunglasses were the one thing we could do more or less privately in our uniforms,” ​​she says. “They were the only form of my personality.”

Shereen has also set her sights on promoting the upcoming release of her memoir, Brass and unity. The book gives an open and graphic account of her past and expresses clearly how the outcome of her military service affected not only her own life but many others as well. These experiences were the inspiration for Brass & Unity’s corporate mandate to donate 20 percent of its net profits to a worldwide charity, and when the COVID-19 crisis reduced such supplies, the brand created a personal safety Started the equipment program.

Brass & Unity has been nominated for a Canadian Art and Fashion Award this year in its Fashion Impact Award category, but Sheren points out that her philanthropic campaign to start the brand is a more primary motivator than being a part of the fashion industry Was. “I need to find a way to help my friends,” she says, adding that she “lost more friends from service after suicide.” [she] Lost in Afghanistan. ”

Waxing the philosopher about where she is and where she is going, Shereen cuts off her right to chase: “If you don’t go through a trip, what are you doing?”

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