Kamelah Adams, owner and creator of Mimi’s Fresh Tees, doesn’t bring signs when she attends Black Lives Matter protests. Instead, she wears her opinions on her shirts.
Adams created Mimi’s Fresh Tees about two and a half years ago after a substitute teacher at her son’s school accused him of hitting another child. Although her son, Daniel Jr., told the teacher that a white classmate was responsible, Daniel Jr. was the one punished. The problem was later resolved, but Daniel was still traumatized, Adams said.
“I wanted to express those emotions without uttering a word,” Adams said. “I wanted to start a conversation by wearing my feelings on my chest.”
The first design she ever made was a cream-colored T-shirt that said, “Black history didn’t start with slavery.” An outline of Africa was behind the message.
The current designs on Mimi’s Fresh Tees website center more on the Black Lives Matter protests. Some of the T-shirts feature phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “EMPOWERED WOMAN.” The shirts are made at two local print shops, one of which is owned by women.
A “UNITY” tee features a word cloud in the shape of a fist that includes words such as “justice,” “fairness,” “opportunity” and “unity.”
Adams said she believes this shirt, which is the second-best seller, is popular because it illustrates how people need to work together to make change happen.
“People that have been in marginalized communities that have been historically underserved for generations cannot do it alone,” Adams said. “We all have to be united.”
The top seller on the website is, “MAKE RACISM WRONG AGAIN,” with over 50 shirts sold. This is also Adams’ favorite shirt to wear at protests, which she attends about once a week.
Adams said that since the protests started a few weeks ago, her sales have increased by about 600%.
Adams is the designer, but sometimes her daughter, Jasmine, 15, contributes ideas. She suggested her mom create a “RACISM IS THE PANDEMIC – EST. 1492” shirt, which is now the third most popular on the site.
Jasmine, who protested almost every day for about four weeks, encouraged her mom to march and get involved in Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
“I just feel like people of color have been dealing with racial injustice for way too long now, and now that we are starting a revolution I want to be a part of it and do as much as I can,” Jasmine said. “I just don’t want to raise my kids in a world like this.”
Jasmine’s favorite shirt to wear at protests is the “Unity” shirt. She said she wants to be an activist when she grows up.
Adams said it always feels good when she sees people wearing her shirts at protests because she is helping other people express their opinions and spread the word about racism in America.
“I just feel like the message is getting out there,” Adams said.
Customer Christine Galgerud, 48, said she found Adams’ business a few years ago because their sons were in the same grade at Irvington Elementary School. She bought three shirts about two and a half years ago, two for herself and one for her son. Soon, she will purchase two of the “UNITY” shirts, one for her son and one for herself.
She said she plans on wearing the shirt out to a protest because she feels like it would help start the conversation about racism and she wants to show support for Mimi’s Fresh Tees.
“For me it was very important to support a Black-owned business in my own community,” Galgerud said. “I think it’s important that we pull to the front people that our country have oppressed for so long.”
— Madison Smalstig l firstname.lastname@example.org l @madi_smals l