Nadia Elkharadly: Global Warming Tee’s: T-shirts with a Voice; Spreading Love and Global Warmth.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a diverse, interesting, and talented group of friends.  Just about everyone I know is out in the world accomplishing some pretty cool things, and some of them are even making a real difference.  One of these awesome individuals is one Miss Lauren Shirreffs; writer, marketing maven and of late, entrepreneur.  Lauren and her friend and colleague Charmaine Joseph have partnered up to shape an entire business around making statements, and most of all, making people stop and think.  That business is Global Warming Tees.  In their own words:

In a time when racism, bullying, and gender discrimination are constantly in the headlines, [Global Warming Tees] goal is to shed light on these issues and encourage people to start talking about social change. With the belief that ignorance often interferes with acceptance, Global Warming hopes to open minds and hearts one t-shirt at a time.

In a nutshell – headline sporting t-shirts that allow the wearer to make a statement without ever saying a world.  Combining fashion with social engagement, Lauren and Charmaine have created a line of t-shirts that are essentially “wearable billboards”.  The messages are thought provoking and bold, addressing issues that affect people of all walks of life; stereotypes affecting genders, ethnicities and cultural groups.  The headlines are updated every three months and have included some of these provocative messages:

“Mixed: Colouring Outside the Lines Since Conception”, “Descendants of Africa”, “Love me like this”, “Artistic and Employed” and my personal favourite “Music is a universal language”.

When our mutual friend Aleks Jassemtold me about Lauren and Charmaine’s endeavour, I immediately thought “Wow.”  And I knew I wanted to learn more.  So I reached out to the brains and beauties behind this operation, and they were kind enough to share their insights and ambitions with me, and now I’m sharing it with you, my lovely readers!

1) How do you ladies know each other?

Lauren: Charm and I met at the Academy of Design; we were both studying Fashion Marketing. Then a few years later, we ended up working at the same marketing agency.

Charmaine:  Lauren and I first met at the Academy of Design in Toronto, randomly passing in halls and then eventually having a painfully awkward (for me) public speech class together. We later connected again when I joined a Corporate Apparel Agency as a Marketing and Sales Co-ordinator where Lauren handles the Social Media and Creative projects.

2) Tell me about the name “Global Warming Tees”. I’m guessing you’re not talking about the depleting ozone layer…

L: HAHA no. It was a concept of spreading love and peace globally. We wanted to take a negative and make it into a positive. We are looking at this as a movement, and hoping at one point we can reach everyone, in every country.

C:  Global Warming basically means, spreading love, understanding, and acceptance, on a global scale. We are aware that Global Warming is already a hot topic, pun intended  and we figured if it can make people stop and ask questions, it keeps in line with what our Tees are all about…provoking dialogue, thought, and educating the ignorant on social topics, stereotypes and issues affecting everyone across the globe.

3) What inspired you to start this clothing line?

L: Frustrations with so many stereotypes and generalizations we saw in our personal lives. We wanted to do something socially conscious, bringing together our passions for fashion, humanitarianism, and try to make a small difference in the world.

C:  We wanted a visual, tangible, and fashionable way to vent frustrations, express issues and make a change in the world. Our mantra is “ignorance often interferes with acceptance” so we try to create shirts that address issues that may be taboo or may affect certain groups that may want their voices heard. We call our shirts “T-shirts with a voice” because they aren’t just about witty words emblazoned on a chest…they are words with meaning that touch on gender issues, discrimination, depression, bullying, racism, and stereotypes.

4) Tell me about the line itself, what are you looking to accomplish with it?

C:  We are looking to create a movement. We want to have such a strong brand identity that people know it’s a Global Warming tee. Ideally that will give us the platform and leverage to do great things as we both aspire to have a philanthropic venture aligned with this brand.

L:  Anyone can have a random t-shirt with text “Frankie goes to Hollywood” or whatever… we want people to think about what they put on as reflecting their thoughts and feelings.

5) How did/do you come up with the messages (the headlines) on the shirts? What do the different messages mean to you and how did they get picked?

L:  We both brainstorm, they kind of just pop into our minds after conversations with friends, family and thinking about the things we see in our lives. It is really just a process of back and forth between Charm and I. We come up with some, narrow them down, ask our friends what they think, judge their reactions… if they react with “woah.” haha then it is usually a go.

C:  Sometimes its personal experiences that we draw upon, sometimes its major headlines in the news we stay in tuned with. We stay on top of social media trends, what issues people are talking about the most…what frustrations people may have etc. An example could be the recent issues with gun violence becoming progressively worse; we will now brainstorm ideas to address this topic. We then share the ideas with each other and family/friends to get constructive feedback.

6) Do you try to avoid being controversial with the messages? Or do you embrace it?

L:  Yes, but we also want to remain respectful and positive. We aren’t activists, we are realists. Our messages are very “bottom line”, very “obviously”. We are open minded, and embrace everyone’s varying opinions on things, but we have zero tolerance for negativity, racism, bullying, sexism… and so forth. Having said that, we aren’t afraid to stir the pot. If there is a message we feel very strongly about… it is going on a shirt regardless of its “controversiality”.

C:  We definitely don’t try to be controversial on purpose.  That can become a bit gimmicky…almost like you’re begging for attention. However, if we have a topic that we are passionate about that we want to address and it is controversial, we won’t shy away from it either.

7) Has there ever been a message that you’ve been worried to put out there on a shirt, or are you fairly “no holds barred” with the content?

L:  No, not as of yet. Because we feel so strongly about the things we choose to say, there isn’t anything we put out there we don’t stand behind. As long as we remain respectful and positive, we can’t possibly offend anyone. 

C:  We had an idea to make a shirt that says “Relax, being gay is not contagious” and it’s really for the homophobic people out there that are so afraid to even be seen around gay people or interact publicly. We didn’t take it to print because we were a little apprehensive that some gays could take it the wrong way, as if we are saying it’s a bad thing which is exactly what we aren’t saying so we’ve put that style on pause, but we haven’t ditched the style completely. We will probably just get more feedback first.

8)  Do you play favourites? What’s your current favourite t-shirt slogan? (Mine is “Music is universal language” if you couldn’t guess hahaha)

L:  I can’t speak for Charm, but my favourite is Love me Like this and Peace be With You.

C:  I have to admit, I have an inner activist in me (I share the same birthday with Malcolm X *laughs*) so I do like shirts that are on the controversial side a bit. My favourites would probably be “Wearing a Hoody Doesn’t Make you a Hoodlum” and “Artistic AND Employed.” That being said, I have a warm place in my heart for the “Mixed” tee as it was stemmed off a Facebook rant I had about being mixed race and was the catalyst for Lauren and I decided to create a T-shirt line of this nature.

9) Can you give us some hints on what the next set of messages will be?

L: Nope. Haha kidding. The next ones will be very “change the world” like, because we will be launching children’s mid Oct.

C:  Nope sorry!!  Just Kidding!  Gun Violence, Female Empowerment/beauty issues, and something really cute for kids.

10) I love that you two intelligent and strong women came together to create this company, one that is sharing a vision and literal messages with the world. What advice would you give to anyone, male or female, young or old who are thinking about taking a chance and turning a passion or creative vision into a business?

L:  Do it, nothing is more boring than working a job you aren’t passionate about. Life is too short to be involved in mediocrity.

C:  You will never know how much you can achieve until you actually try! Take a chance, what’s the worst that can happen? If it’s failing, guess what, every successful person has failed.

11) Is there a particular parting “Global Warming Tee” worthy message that you want to share with our readers

C:  We are one.

L:  Acceptance cures.

I’d like to thank these fantastic ladies for taking the time to chat with me.  It’s a great concept for a great cause, and I wish them much success!  To get your very own Global Warming Tee and start your personal revolution, check out the online store: Global-warming.ca, and follow them on various social media here:

Facebook.com/globalwarmingtees
Twitter: @globalwarmtees
Instagram: @globalwarmingtees

(All photos by Dave Gillespie)

Until next time,

Xo

N

Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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