PROJECT: CELEBRATE DIVERSITY
I think we can all agree 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. We've been challenged, stretched, and given many opportunities to grow, learn, and listen. While it's been tough, it's also been the inspiration of our collab project with Fit Appeal by Kim Sealy: CELEBRATE DIVERSTIY.
We wanted to create a project that would go beyond the surface. Furthermore, we wanted to find a way to amplify voices from members of our community. Celebrate Diversity came together over 13 words that have represented the year we've all endured thus far. Now, we are able to share a perspective on each of these words from 13 members of our community!
A few months ago, in the midst of the chaos that is 2020, I was given the opportunity to step outside of my bubble, self-reflect, and reflect on the brand I've been building for nearly 5 years.
One of the side effects of living in my bubble was that my brand, who tirelessly preaches community amongst other important values, was not accurately showcasing our diverse community. Being a small business, I was capitalizing on using images of people close to me (like... myself. Or my sister. Or friends - and it turned out that like, 90% of those people are white with blond hair). It was never intentional but nonetheless, Thirteen Fit Apparel was MAJORLY lacking representation and diversity.
That's when I decided to reach out to a friend of a friend - Kim Sealy. I "knew" Kim via social media through my friend Shelly and we got to meet briefly at Wodapalooza this past February (which was really lucky considering she lives in Barbados!).
The one-and-only Kim Sealy of Fit Appeal by Kim Sealy!
With no specific vision of what I wanted to do, I asked Kim to jump on a Zoom call to brainstorm; I wanted to do SOMETHING, I just didn't know what yet. I specifically reached out to Kim for three reasons:
1. I had listened to one of her IG Live sessions about white privilege. She spoke openly with my previously mentioned friend Shelly about the topic. What I loved about her talk with Shelly was how willing, open-minded, educational, well-spoken, and positive she was even as a black woman speaking to a white woman about white privilege. I really admired that. It was an open and honest conversation.
2. I've been following her for a while on social media and overall, my view of Kim was nothing but positive. It's clear how relentless and passionate she is about her sport and coaching (CrossFit), how hardworking she is, and her energy is just infectious.
3. Kim was outside of my "bubble" that I'd be trapped in and I was in major need of some fresh eyes, ears, and opinions.
So we got on a call. That call lasted somewhere near 2 hours. We shared our views on the Black Lives Matter movement, we talked about ourselves and our brands - spending two hours on Zoom with Kim felt like it went by in a flash.
For weeks, we continued jumping on calls when inspiration would strike us - and after months of planning and throwing ideas around, we landed on what we now call Celebrate Diversity.
Our idea was not only to represent a more diverse community but to also amplify their voices. So instead of only posting images for visual representation, we have a window into each of our participants personalities.
How the project worked:
We invited 12 members of our communities (Kim herself was number 13 - you didn't think we'd only have 12, did you?!) to participate; once they agreed, we assigned each individual a word (individuality, passion, hope, etc...) and from there, it was a free form experiment. We asked each participant to capture a photo of themselves in our Celebrate Diversity shirt that they felt represented them. In addition, we asked them to write a blurb about their assigned word and what it meant to them. There were no rules, no restrictions, no format - we wanted it to be authentic and to truly be an open mic where they could interpret the prompt however they wanted to.
The project came together even better than I had imagined. It's raw, and it's honest. There are so many pieces of this project that have me over the moon: seeing each participant's photo and blurb makes me feel so connected to them and I hope that you all feel the same. It's also brought me closer to Kim which I am so grateful for - she's a fantastic human and friend. Lastly, we've been able to connect with a non-profit who we are SO excited to work with. A portion of all t-shirt sales from Celebrate Diversity will be donated to Project Onyx.
"At Project Onyx, our goal is to eliminate the barriers that people of color face by providing affordable and accessible health and fitness services, mentorship for our youth and future professionals, and empowering our communities to become more culturally proficient, healthy, and active."
T-shirt orders (with customizable cuts!) are now available on the website; a portion of the proceeds with be donated to Project Onyx. Pre-order runs 10/13-10/27 for a mid/end November delivery.
So, without further ado, I am so proud to introduce you to Celebrate Diversity!