–Debbie wearing the long sleeve tee–
GURLS TALK is ‘a movement that strives to create a platform where girls can openly share their experiences and feelings in a safe and trusting environment’. The platform that encourages girls and women to communicate the many thoughts that occupy mental space was founded by fashion model Adwoa Aboah. I’ve admired Adwoa for a very long time for aesthetic reasons and more so for cultural reasons as she’s also half Ghanaian like myself. As a child growing up being from an African country wasn’t considered beautiful so seeing Adwoa grace many sartorial walks was the middle finger response to all those close-minded people I experienced as a teenager. I was curious about what she was doing with GURLS TALK and after perusing the site and reading the different stories of lots of brave females openly talking about personal experiences I wanted to be involved by using something that is very passionate to me; textiles.
For Embellished Talk’s first collaboration myself and four other textiles designers I previously interviewed here have hand embroidered twenty t-shirts over two months to raise money for the Baytree Centre. The centre is a charity organisation in London Brixton ‘working with and empowering women and girls through education and skills development programmes’. I started volunteering at Baytree in 2008 and now work in the centre part time teaching English to refugee and migrant girls while helping them find places in schools and colleges. The Baytree Centre has been like a second home for me, a place to be myself, a place to feel comfortable, a place to forget about my problems and help others while constantly being inspired. Its cause and non judgmental space is synonymous with what GURLS TALK is doing.
The four other talented textiles designers involved in the project are Wasima Akhtar, Nicole Chui, Jodie Ruffle and Sofia Salazar. I previously interviewed them and really admire their work; I think it’s fascinating that we use the same medium but produce very different textiles. The 100% natural cotton t-shirts are made by EVERYBODY World in Los Angeles using skilled garment workers. The company was founded by Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo and is ‘dedicated to creating soulful, seasonless basics alongside outrageous and comfortable lifestyle-goods.’
The shoot took place in SHED London a coworking space and photography studio in East London and was shot by photographers Nwaka Okparaeke and Bernice Mulenga. I asked my friends to model the t-shirts because they’re women that inspire me in numerous amount of ways and I wanted to be surrounded by their creative energies. They all came ready to shine and gave the t-shirts extra personality. I asked each one of my friends to write down what they talk about in one word and by doing so it led to honest and open discussions from faith, depression to memes.
All of the proceeds will be donated to the Baytree Centre and the money will be doubled if you buy a t-shirt before 12pm on Friday 19 May.
Shop the range of t-shirts here
Stay tuned for more t-shirts coming out soon!