A couple of months ago Nicole Jowett printed a T-Shirt for herself with the word FEMINIST written across the front. It turned out people really liked it and wanted their own one. Soon she was taking orders to supply to friends and friends-of-friends and eventually she partnered with Fruit of the Loom to create a steady supply. But this drive is about more than one word, with proceeds also going to support a worthy cause.
I caught up with Nicole to talk a bit more about her project.
What does the word “feminist” mean to you? Why did you decide to wear a shirt with the word printed on it?
For me, being a modern feminist means that I believe in women’s rights on all levels including the most basic; from radical issues like child marriage, to pay gaps and domestic violence, and even economic abuse. It has nothing to do with man hating, or catch phrases like “mansplaining”. Being a feminist is about the real and dangerous discrimination and abuse that women worldwide face day to day based on their gender.
Why did you start the Feminist Tee project?
It started by accident. I saw a Feminist T-shirt on Pinterest and I spent months looking for one online and in shops but couldn’t find one. Eventually I printed ten of them (because it was cheaper to print ten than just one) and decided I’d sell the other 9.
A friend of mine pointed out to me that wearing the word ‘Feminist’ was a strong statement to make, and so I thought about how I could make this statement actually MEAN something. Then the idea came to me to donate money from each T-shirt sold to a women’s charity – that way the word meant something more.
the idea came to me to donate money from each T-shirt sold to a women’s charity – that way the word meant something more.
I then printed another ten and gave the project an identity, the #FeministTeeProject (pretty straight forward!) and from there it snowballed. I have now recently launched the FEMINIST Unisex Sweatshirt, and will soon be launching more summer apparel.
As I look at the project now, not only does it raise money for women, but it also breaks the stigmas around the word ‘Feminist’ and starts conversations. Many men have seen me wearing my tee, and because (I suppose) I don’t look like a radical feminist, they asked me why I’m a feminist. It leads to great conversations and they mostly agree with what I as a modern feminist stand for.
Tell us about the charity initiative? What organisation are you supporting? Why?
R100 from every T-shirt or apparel sold is donated to The Frida Hartley (@fridahartley) Shelter For Destitute Women and Children. Frida Hartley gives destitute women and their children a safe place to live and provides them with meals, accommodation and work training to enable them to get back on their feet and become independent. Education is the ultimate empowerment, with skills and education a woman can do anything. What this charity does is the epitome of what modern Feminism is.
How have people received the project?
There has been nothing but positivity from men and women – its been phenomenal to see.
For you, women are powerful because…
…there is nothing that can stop a woman with a dream.
The Feminist Tees cost R200 per shirt + R100 for postage from Postnet to Postnet. Visit tshirtsforchange.co.za for more info. You can also follow the conversation with #FeministTeeProject, #FeminismForEveryone and #fotlfeminists