activism

Creating Clothes for a Cause

Emma Bush was always running around in clothes her mom and grandma would make for her. So it wasn’t a big surprise to anyone when Emma learned how to make her own clothes and accessories from the early age of six.

“I’ve been doing that for a long time, sewing, making jewelry, and art and different things,” Emma said. “All of my interests kind of collide as far as handiwork.”

Emma Bush, shopping for supplies.

Emma Bush, shopping for supplies.

(Keep reading! But also click here to listen to the full episode!)

It didn’t occur to her until she was around fifteen that she could do something with these amazing skills. After realizing she didn’t want to be a dentist due to her disdain for spit, she started looking for other avenues that would eventually lead her to where she is now. The owner, sole creator, and designer of the clothing brand ‘Soapbox Clothing for a Cause.’

“I was doing alterations for people in high school so I had the art and everything,” she said. “I was just like, ‘okay, let’s see about making clothes’. By the time I graduated, and I went to community college, I was like we’re gonna do fashion design. That’s gonna be my major.”

During a spring fashion show in college, Emma used the name ‘Soapbox Clothing’ for the first time when she signed up to show a collection of items. She was so proud of her collection and has people remember items from it to this day.

From a shoot for Soapbox Clothing. Two looks Emma made. (Photo by: Raina Bowers)

From a shoot for Soapbox Clothing. Two looks Emma made. (Photo by: Raina Bowers)

“It was a really good collection, it was all like these satin slip dresses and they were really pretty,” she said. “People still, every once in awhile, will be like ‘oh you made that like silver dress’. Cause I had this like six-foot tiny like supermodel girl wear it, and that was cool.”

Her clothing is now in full swing and she can hardly find time to do much of anything else. Yet while she is making clothes and building her own company, she is also using the proceeds to donate to charities and initiatives that she believes it.

“I don’t have free time because I’m doing this all the time, and I love it, which is great,” Emma said. “It’s not something that I’m just pushing to the side. It’s something I genuinely want to build.”

She donates to causes such as the Honeybee Conservancy, Fund for the Children of Flint, Michigan, PLanned Parenthood and many others. As an outspoken feminist and activist, she knows that talking about problems and having open discussions is only half the battle. To help, she makes sure she is helping causes she knows helps others.

“If you like my stuff you’re gonna be benefiting these various things I believe in,” she said. “So like, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, the environment, all these different things that I’m gonna try and fuel, that I believe in.”

Oftentimes, Emma collaborates with other local artists for photoshoots, pop-ups and other opportunities. Even though she has had a few people try and take advantage of her along the way, it hasn’t stopped her from working with others and joining in the creative Phoenix scene.

“It’s kind of a wild thing to sit down and go, ‘oh wow, I’m so much more capable of making things and ideas and everything,’” she said. “Now I’m bringing other artists into it and it’s great and it’s all so good. Very fulfilling.”

Starting her business has not been easy. In the past, she has had people use her to get free products in exchange for little-to-nothing in return. Like many people starting a business, though, she has learned the value of her time and her products and is now able to navigate through those who really want to help out and work together from those who just want a free shirt.

“I’m placing more value on myself, which is healthy and great,” Emma said. “I’m not sending out free things because you know, I worked really hard to make this. It’s not super difficult to be nice and open to other people. So, if people want to make an effort, they will, and if they don’t, forget em.”

Photo of Emma.

Photo of Emma.

Emma works hard to follow what she believes in and is able to do it all by following her passion. As her company grows, we are sure many people will be wearing and supporting her!

“Stand, not by your own, but by yourself on what you want to do,” says Emma.

You can follow Emma and see all of her fabulous merchandise on Twitter and Instagram.

ALSO, you can check out her website here!

Still want to know more about Emma and starting a business? Click here to listen to the full episode!

Thank you so much, once again, to our follower and supporters! It means a lot to us!

Fear of a Black Queer Planet

We are living now inside the imagination of people who thought economic disparity and environmental destruction were acceptable costs for their power. It is our right and responsibility to write ourselves into the future. All organizing is science fiction. If you are shaping the future, you are a futurist. A visionary fiction is a way to practice the future in our minds, alone and together. -Adrienne Maree Brown.

 

Dallas Diaz read Jaye and Raina that quote when they met up with them back in July. They were reading from a book titled, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds which can sum up the amazing work Dallas has done thus far in their young life.

 

“I’m just a little 22 year old out of college with my first career trying to figure things out and how to flip the politics of this state that is very corrupt,” they said. “I’m looking for a place where I can be black and queer and be trusted and not tokenized for that, but empowered by that.”

 

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(Click here to listen to the amazing episode! But also keep reading, please! They say a lot of cool things that didn’t make it into the final cut of the episode!)

 

Dallas grew up going to public school and learning to play many instruments including guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums (among others). When it came to joining bands, though, they were always asked to play bass and keyboard instead of lead guitar. As if that could stop them from getting out into the spotlight.

 

When a friend asked them to join a band as the drummer, they knew it was their time to get out from the background and into the spotlight.

 

“I’ve been playing music since I was 5 years old, but this is my first time actually being in a group with anybody playing music and playing shows and things like that, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, but had my friend not asked me and trusted me and someone else showed that type of confidence in me, I wouldn’t have done it,” they said.

 

Of course, being behind the drumset had its challenges both on and off the stage. People weren’t expecting to see a young black person in that role. Dallas was in charge of the rhythm on stage, and off stage they were trying to make their way in the world untokenized.

 

“I think there’s a vacuum and I think a lot of marginalized artists, and artists who have been healing their trauma through art, are gonna find a lot more validation,” they said. “There are spaces to start having these critical conversations that we’ve been missing out on.”

 

On top of finding their own voice in music, Dallas is a passionate activist. In a world that doesn’t want to change, Dallas has decided to speak louder and give a voice that wasn’t always there for them.

 

“I was having a lot of trouble negotiating [anti-blackness within communities of color in Arizona organizations] as well as being queer, being a nonbinary person,” they said. “I was in a lot of spaces, the first non binary person to be around, so it was really tasked onto me to teach people how to treat me right.”

 

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Finding the space to be yourself and to advocate for those you don’t see or hear is exactly what makes Dallas a trailblazer in our community.

 

Like Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Dallas writes their own story. When they didn’t see themselves being represented in the community or in music, they stepped in.

 

“Validating myself through watching what other artists are doing and watching other people through their processes, that’s what art is,” they said. “I think I had such a self-consciousness that comes with perfectionism. I didn’t want to put anything out if it didn’t have like good melodic sense or anything.”

 

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Making their music heard in the community they live in is just one way we can see the importance of self-publishing. Maybe not everyone will understand your voice or your story at first, but getting it out there is the first step.

 

“I’ve been spending some time trying to really be grateful for right now, and what I was so grateful for yesterday, it kind of overwhelmed me: I was realizing how many young emerging artists and changemakers I’ve met in the middle of the desert already in my young 20s and what that’s going to look like as I cultivate it as I get older,” Dallas said.

 

You can follow Dallas and all of the amazing stuff they are doing on Instagram.

 

Still want to hear more about Dallas and their work? Click here to listen to the full episode!

 

Thank you so much for reading and for supporting us!