The recent death of George Floyd can be seen as a catalyst for change. Personally, my friend Ryan Strickland and I became motivated after Floyd’s death and decided to take action.
The unrest started as an American protest for the way people of color are treated, but it has evolved into a global movement. Ryan and I felt compelled to help disprivileged groups that have been oppressed in our society. We decided to use our mutual love for fashion, streetwear, and graphic design as an outlet to create change.
Ryan is educated on the issues and topics that currently affect our country. Through his recommendation, we decided to support Black Earth Farms. Black Earth Farms is a Black and Indigenous led agroecology collective. They focus on studying and spreading both ancestral and contemporary agroecological practices to train community members to build collectivized, autonomous, and chemical free food systems in the urban environments of San Francisco.
With our donation plan in place for Black Earth Farms, Ryan and I decided to design a three-shirt collection. The process of designing shirts and working together truly defines what our generation is capable of – Ryan is white and I’m black, and we’ve never even met in person or heard each other’s voices.
Yet – through the power of social media – we have been in constant contact for the past couple months and have formed a great bond. I commend Ryan for how outspoken he has been through all the chaos our country has experienced this year.
We wanted the shirts to have a message that connected people, shared our views on creating a better future, and were sustainable clothing items for the long run.
The message on the front reads, “Teach Peace, Not Hate.” This simple statement serves to carry love and peace for others – over anything else. The hands on the back are a representation of two individuals with different characteristics coming together. Finally, my favorite part of the shirt is the flower rising out of the crack in the pavement paralleled with the quote from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.”
The flower graphic is special because its location allows for additional function. If anyone wanted to crop the shirt, then they could use the bottom with the flower graphic to create a matching headband. We thought this would help appeal to a larger audience, as well as create less wasted fabric.
And maybe, we did just that – appealed to a large audience and spread a powerful message. In a week, Ryan and I were able to sell 120 shirts and meet our goal of raising $2,000 for Black Earth Farms.
With the success of this campaign, Ryan and I are looking to release other merchandise this summer.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported us and our work. BLACK LIVES MATTER!