“It is our duty to fight
It is our duty to win
We must love and protect each other
We have nothing to lose but our chains”
This is the second in a series of three blog posts highlighting S.O.U.L. Sisters’ work. To read the first post, please click here
Every SOUL Sisters gathering, girls’ voices rise in this chant. They have joined the leadership development non-profit organization with the mission to interrupt cycles of poverty and violence within their hometowns of NYC and Miami.
At the Beyond the Bars Conference on Saturday, March 5, 2016, just after several SOUL Sisters shared slam poetry and advice for other youth activists in front of an audience of 80, the organization kicked off their social enterprise with the launch of SOUL Line products.
Hannah, age 16, a SOUL Sister panelist and SOUL Line designer, says “Social justice is like my other skin, it is the skin I’m most comfortable in because of how personally connected I feel to such issues as mass incarceration and now a new term I learned during Angela’s Davis speech at the Beyond the Bars conference, ‘Racial Capitalism’.”
Hannah continues, “Providing love in a time of extreme hate is something I advocate for and believe in…The business aspect of SOUL Sisters is crucial to letting our program, our sisterhood, be known!… We are evolving ourselves as entrepreneurs because we are a sisterhood, evolving as ‘business partners’, mediators, and activists. ” Connecting our SOUL Sisters programming and our SOUL Line is what makes SOUL Line so unique and powerful.
SOUL Line promotes social justice, supports young women in developing entrepreneurship and professional skills, and provides SOUL Sisters with a platform for future sustainable funding.
Kassadi, age 12, reflects, “In order to build a business, you must have responsibility, commitment and merit. You also need to be friendly and put love into the work you do. You need to have passion for it… How you practice is how you perform.”
Ariela, age 11, says, “It’s about having a plan and a back up plan. You have to be organized and never give up. It’s about working with a group of people and being a team. It’s all about trust. It gives us a chance to have our voice heard.”
Jadea, age 12, says, “The products that we create show that young women are strong and can make a difference in this world.”
The first SOUL Line products of stationery, t-shirts and sweatshirts, clutch purses and canvas bags stem from collaborations with successful women designers & business owners, youth led businesses, and fashion consultants. SOUL Sisters would like to recognize Molly Shaheen, Sweet Domino Designs, Reconnect Graphics and Uzoma Chibundu for their support and expertise. All products are 100% designed by both middle school and high school aged young women of color.
Emily Butera, founder of Sweet Domino Designs, shares her thoughts on partnering with the middle school girls to produce the stationery products. “Working with SOUL Sisters has been the one of the most positive business experiences I’ve had! I always come away from our conversations feeling energized and excited for the next step in the process. They are a loving and positive team that made the whole collaboration a lot of fun!”
Emily speaks about the message of SOUL Line products, “I have been very impressed with the creativity and the talent that the girls possess. They came up with cards that not only have beautiful designs but also have beautiful messages. The girls have inspired me to keep spreading the love, in my cards and in my everyday life!”
Nadia, age 12, the designer of the Wolf Love Card, says, “It’s important to have people feel good about themselves and my hope is it will make people feel happy. The message of love makes you feel not lonely like you’re in good company.”
Mariam, age 11, the designer of the Road to Love Card, reflects on her process and says, “I learned how one small piece of art can send a big message.”
Logan, age 18, a Youth Leaders Board member and the designer of the t-shirt and sweatshirts, also reflects. “It felt very surreal to see my designs on the t-shirts. For a very long time I refused to call myself an artist/designer because I felt that my work wasn’t good enough, therefore I wasn’t worthy of the title. So to actually see my designs on shirts and hoodies is a very awesome experience. Safe to say, I now feel like I can actually call myself an artist/designer.”
Logan continues, “This work is extremely important to me because this is what I want to do for a living (whether part time or full time). I also don’t really know any non-binary or trans artists/designers personally so visibility and representation is extremely important to me. It’s important for people to know that there are radical non binary/trans artists out here that are creating incredible work and if I can help contribute to that, then I am greatly and deeply satisfied.”
Aisha, age 17, another Youth Leaders Board member and one of the designers of the clutch purses, reflects, “The process was long but the final product was amazing… we are leading by example and we are sending a positive message.”
Sanaai, age 12, the designer of the Love is Louder bag, says, “We have the chance to do it better than anyone else, better than men. Women are on the same team. Men get paid more for the same thing so building a business is our chance to be identified as powerful women in this world.”
To purchase the products created by these amazing young women, please visit our website and our online shop. All products are designed 100% by the young women themselves and 100% of the proceeds go back into supporting SOUL Sisters programming.