NS entrepreneur helps those going through similar struggles

By Tyler Dunne

Tyra Paul was on a dark path before discovering a therapeutic outlet in clothing design.

Drip Avenue 902 is a clothing line designed by Indigenous entrepreneur Tyra Paul, who uses her business to support those dealing with mental health and addictions issues – something Paul struggled with for years. 

“Since I was 13, I dibble dabbled in substance abuse and alcoholism, and after high school, I went into university and just kind of got into a little bit more of stronger things and before I knew it, I was falling apart,” Paul told CityNews.

Paul was very candid about her past experiences telling the story of how she was submitted to psychiatric care during an episode fueled by narcotics. 

“I thought I was going to die or something because my heart was going really fast and I just sent my mom my location and said 'you need to come get me something is wrong,'” Paul detailed.

Paul was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder and dealt with manic episodes and deep depression. 

After a falling-out with her immediate family, Paul moved in with her grandmother. 

“And while I was there, something fell into place – tie dyeing shirts.”

Paul says everybody seemed to love the design of her shirts, so she began doing pop-up shops around Pictou Landing.

“Everybody seemed to like it,” Paul said. 

“So fast forward into the winter months, I thought maybe I could do something with this brand – maybe I could actually try to help people.”

Paul decided to sign up for the Pow Wow Pitch 2021, a competition across Turtle Island for Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Paul said she submitted a one-minute pitch and believed that's as far as things would go. 

She ended up making it to the semi-finals and said that her journey led to connections with more Indigenous entrepreneurs and other women who welcomed her to larger communities and helped to empower her. 

“For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself,” Paul said. 

Following that, Paul applied for a business loan via Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization helping those between 18-39 with loan financing, mentoring and business resources. 

“I have to give them a lot of credit because they are the ones who pretty much guided me through this whole process,” Paul admitted. 

Paul was inspired by other local clothing brands that pride themselves on where they come from and who they are. 

“I wanted to shine a light on mental health and addictions,” Paul explained. 

“So 10 per cent of my profits are going to Pictou Landing First Nations, the reserve that I'm from, and we want to develop some mental health initiatives and some programs for the youth,” said Paul. 

“That's pretty much what I dreamed for it to be, and maybe in the future, we can expand across Canada or something, who knows.”

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