As promised in my last post, I mentioned an interview with an fellow HU Studnt designer… I would like to introduce Tribal Immunity by Tamara Williams-as seen in last week’s ASA Fashion Show-featured here:
NAME: Tamara Williams
HOMETOWN: Newark, NJ
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE TRIBAL IMMUNITY?
It’s a combination of my interests in African clothing and Graphic tees. I always wanted to design for myself. I just started drawing again, and I would then play around with my works on the computer while I was home for the summer, since I was bored. It was then that I developed the concept to put my works on T-shirts. [Tribal Immunity] is a reflection of my culture, having a family from Jamaica and growing up in Newark. I want to bring that culture into the new millenium to show people that African culture is not just about Dashikis and things of that nature.
WHERE DOES THE NAME COME/DRAW FROM?
I wanted the name to have something tribal in it. I got the name together as I was working to trademark the name, which is currently in the works, and while I was researching Native Americans. They have this law/code, called Tribal Sovereign Immunity, in which they’re allowed to live and rule themselves, free from governmental laws. I feel all Blacks should come together, so this is my way of allowing us to heal together… So we can be immune to oppression and that which has held us back for all of these years.
WHEN COMING UP FOR NEW DESIGNS, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT?
My culture. I like to incorporate natural stuff… Things that come easy, like the wind. My works are free flowing, based off my imagination and mystical ideas. I want people to be able to understand the concepts that I’m producing, but to gain their own ideas as well.
IN WHAT DIRECTION DO YOU SEE THE BRAND GOING?
I don’t feel comfortable with large corporations, because exploitation almost always comes in with big companies. I don’t want to wake up one day with a corporation that’s so large that I’m now exploiting young Cambodian sweat shop workers. I want it to be local. I have a vision for a store. I want it something like a boutique, but more involving. I envision having artwork, music, clothing, and accessories in one space. I want to have Black-produced art, other Black-owned clothing lines, and I even want to sell haircare products from Black companies. Additionally, I want to have a room for community events and celebrations, as well as a cafe. As far as the music, I want it to be primarily African artists that will be played in the store.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO UP AND COMING DESIGNERS/ENTREPRENEURS?
Since I’m still an up and coming designer, I believe that people with visions limit themselves, so they don’t get far. I don’t try to limit myself. Be open to everything. Also, have better time management. I always find time. In the morning, I work behind the front desk in Drew [Hall Dorm], so while I’m doing that I’m usually reading and studying for class. Between classes, I’m reading and studying. After class, I come in and make time for myself. Then, I get to the business. You have to have time management. For example, instead of me trying to go out every Friday and Saturday night, I stay in, usually working on designs, as well as ordering the necessary things I need. There’s always time. I always find time.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO INTRODUCE YOUR LINE HERE ON CAMPUS, OPPOSED TO IN YOUR HOMETOWN? HOW DO YOU THINK HU STUDENTS WILL REACT TO YOUR WEARABLE ART?
I think it’s much easier [here]. You know, when you come here, everybody says, “it’s not about what you know, but who you know,” and that is very true. There are a lot of connections you gain here at HU and many more you can make. One thing I can say is to not surround yourself with negative energy/people/connections. You’ll find a lot of people here with ideas that are similar to your own. I’ve found people, like me, who are open to challenges and are willing to serve. It’s good to give back, to be a mentor and give of my time. When I’m on break, I go to Jamaica every year, whether or not I go with my parents. And every time I go, I take books and school supplies for the children. They love that. Which is why 10% of my proceeds go towards funding the children in Jamaica.
WHAT ARE SOME FUTURE DESIGNS THAT WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE FROM TRIBAL IMMUNITY?
There will be a lot of free hand, unique items. I don’t like things that are similar, things that are mass-produced. Look forward to seeing contemporary styles mixed with traditional patterns.
For more of the Tribal Immunity line, check out the official website.
Williams’s mother is also the creator/designer of the Kirtam Home Collection, which is currently being sold via Ebay. It’s a beautiful blend of contemporary stylings with traditional African patterns/materials. Here’s the link for a closer, better look. It’s nzuri sana (very beautiful)!