—story by Nina Clevinger @ninaclevinger
Badass. Creative. Intelligent. Beautiful. Talented. These are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Kayleigh Hayes, the founder and incredible brains behind Brooklyn-based clothing brand, Rearrange Us.
Hayes is only 25-years old, yet she seemingly has it all figured out. She graduated Cum Laude from a fashion school in her home state of Florida, receiving the highest portfolio score in her class, an entrepreneurial award, a spot on the final portfolio judging panel and not one, but two BFAs in the weeks preceding her 21st birthday—a degree in merchandising, and one in fashion design.
Now, Hayes rules the streets of Brooklyn and sells her very own clothes to men and women all over the world. The idea of Rearrange Us was started when she was just a mere 18-years old, and has successfully grown and developed over the past couple of years.
"Rearrange Us is for real people made by real people,” said Hayes. "Stemming from inspiration from past counterculture movements, we take the bones of what was once great and rethink why it's great today. It's for people who are ready to rework relevancy into the yester-years and celebrate the path it paves now. We are the counter-culture for the modern age.”
With designs ranging from tie-dyed, catch phrase T-shirts to multi-colored, decked-out, studded shorts, Rearrange Us captures the wild energy and spirit of decades past and decades forward. This brand knows exactly who and what it stands for, and it can thank mastermind Kayleigh Hayes for that.
After a life-changing experience at world famous festival, Bonnaroo (Happy Roo!), Hayes knew she was going to do whatever it took to make her dreams come true. And that is exactly what she did.
“The year before I started the company, I went to my first music festival over the summer, Bonnaroo,” said Hayes, thinking back on her first trip to the magical farm located in the middle-of-nowhere, Tennessee. “All of us had a back-story and probably a list of insurmountable problems to go home to, but when we were there, we were in the moment. Despite the misery of the elements, we greeted everyone with a smile, high-fived dirty strangers, and cried over seeing Radiohead. I wanted to be a part of that notion any way I could. I combined my interest of fashion, dedication to vintage clothing, and appreciation for music festivals and mapped out a business model.”
Rearrange Us is heavily inspired by Hayes love for music, adventure and freedom - both creatively and not. She has a soul that can’t be tamed, and it shows in her work and in her day-to-day life.
However, she wasn’t always able to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. Hayes was a competitive figure skater for the first half of her life, and in that world, rules are to be followed, not broken. Hayes likes to break the rules. This got her in some trouble.
She started skating at the young age of 3, her first competition following suit two years later.
“I was consistently fed the line 'you're a natural,’” Hayes recalls. "I became accustomed to hearing my name read over a cheap PA system and then climbing up a felt podium where I threw a smile, received a medal, and waited for the pictures to stop flashing. To constantly be told this was my calling, and to repeat the gratification process to support this, was an incredibly strange notion to grow up with.”
When puberty hit, so did the rebellion. Like many teenagers, Hayes was ready to be different – she remembers wanting to dye her hair black, listen to heavy music, and wear band tees on the ice instead of pretty dresses. These aren’t things figure skaters are supposed to want, and this began to mess with Hayes’s mental.
“In hindsight, I occasionally still find myself bitter over the entire process,” said Hayes. “To not reach the final goal of what was marked out for you at a young age can really affect the existential. But all and all I'm still appreciative I did it. I'm not afraid to work hard for something, strategy and execution is always a front-runner in my thought process, I'm dauntingly aware of competition, and I could probably crush someone's skull with my thighs,” she jokes. “So that's cool.”
The skating may have ended, but the rebellion did not. Hayes later attended a local community college to study business, but began skipping her classes and not finishing assignments because she just wasn’t into it. She wanted to learn about fashion. That’s when she and her mother decided fashion school was the right move, and she transferred.
Since she graduated a few years ago, Hayes has done nothing short of make her dreams come true. It’s an everyday process, one that has knocked her down more than a few times. But the thing that sets Hayes aside is her ability to stand right back up again, ten times stronger and more determined.
“I've spent a lot of time in my life daydreaming of where I see myself in five or ten years time, and although some notions are kind of accurate, for the most part there are too many unforeseen forces that warrant a totally different path,” said Hayes. “I need to prove that some version of the American Dream still exists for our generation. I need to continue this fight for every person born after 1985 who ha dreams of creating something of their own from scratch.”
Hayes is well on her way to proving her point, and for making unseen voices heard. She is determined, she is confident, and she is making moves—the right ones.
Check out her store here, and be sure to take a look at some of the images from the Rearrange Us fall lookbook below, exclusively shot for CIRCUS Magazine.