Yarn Movement and Nicholas Mayfield Collaborate to Empower Girls
Blending their distinctive fashion backgrounds, designer Nicholas Mayfield and Yarn Movement founder Shantelle Brumfield, who designs under the name S. Ladybug, dig back into their own childhoods to release a collection of T-shirts and beanies that afford the comfort of grandma's house, while sending a strong message that leads girls to succeed. While Mayfield and Brumfield have worked within the same circles for years outfitting celebrities, the potential for collaboration began a few years ago.
"From our first conversation, it was a quick connection, or as I like to say ‘stitched together,’ because I am a crocheter," Brumfield said. "Our conversation was part of the same vein of utilizing what we love but also make an impact."
Known for his artistic fashions that rely on colorfully painted creations, Mayfield has been interested in creating a sourcing system or belt on a global scale. By establishing connections with communities around the world, he hopes that the people who make the materials for his collections will be able to cultivate businesses that will lead to greater empowerment.
"It's time we are making a belt when it comes to culture. We have to start working different niche markets with our cousins and family members in different countries since we are all the human race," Mayfield said. "To make sure we can make cool stuff to help the situations around us."
Through Yarn Movement, Brumfield created the Believe in What You Dream initiative, which has led the crocheter to visit different countries within Africa such as Nigeria, Morocco and Tanzania. It is in these areas that Brumfield teaches school-age girls to crochet while also providing a Dream Girl Kit that includes supplies that will empower them through preparedness. One of Brumfield’s former pupils, also known as "believers," Hafssa Marni has launched her own business and is now registered to attend university.
As a former investigative research scientist and chemistry teacher, Brumfield is familiar with problem solving and connecting with students, often relying on the same concepts used in crocheting to connect with pupils. With this experience, she set out to build the initiative that would cultivate confidence in girls to empower them to succeed.
"Three-and-a-half years ago, I had just returned from Nigeria. That trip was driven by whether I could go into a culture that I wasn’t 100 percent familiar with, don't speak the language and still bring yarn and teach crochet. It was incredible," she said. "Crocheting wasn’t necessarily something that was foreign to them, it’s just utilized in a different way."
In this region, crochet concepts and materials are often used to adorn hair, with many colors in black, gold and burgundy. While Brumfield used brighter lime greens and yellows during her trip, the new project with Mayfield will now rely on colors they both recall from their childhoods. Launching this week, the I Believe collection of crocheted granny-square beanies created by Brumfield and T-shirts designed by Mayfield to relay powerful messages, such as the collection's theme of "I am the reason for the season," will pay homage to the comfort found in their grandmothers’ homes when they were children, yet the project will fund Dream Girl Kits for girls in Africa.
"We wanted to do grandma colors. She does granny patches and I wanted that to be my signature with us working together. When I was a kid, all we used to do was sleep on pallets when we had family events," Mayfield recalled. "It reminds me of soul food, silence, obedience, and resilience. There is something about quilts back then and listening to the women in your family. All of my family standing around listening to elders."
As a child, Brumfield also found great influence from her grandmother and her friends. It was in this environment that Brumfield learned to crochet the granny-square styles that are now being incorporated in the new collection. With her experiences that are similar to Mayfield's, Brumfield also hopes to provide comfort to the customers who buy pieces from the collection.
"The pattern always reminds people of their childhoods and the granny square is that for me. It allows me to pay homage," she said. "For us, in the culture of being black families, we had the same things in our houses. It was the wood-paneled walls, the crocheted blankets on the couches. There was this intermixing of textures and colors. Everything had primary colors, but you also had the color combination of brown, orange, yellow and red. It brings back that feeling of being in the comfortable space of your family or grandmother’s home centered around love."
For every piece sold from the collection, 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to purchase Dream Girl Kits. The beanies that retail for $100 and T-shirts that are priced at $80 will provide materials to create a dream catcher, a journal, yarn, hook, scissors, a solar lamp and sanitary products. Each piece within the kit holds great importance to encourage girls to succeed. While the dream-catcher materials, journal and crocheting tools serve to inspire girls creatively, the solar lamp serves a more-practical purpose in schools where overnight students traditionally relied on kerosene lamps for navigating school spaces and reading at night. In a region where the female cycle is taboo, the Dream Girl Kits also provide reusable sanitary products, which are made by women in Uganda, allowing the young girls to strive for the awesome potential that Brumfield sees in them, but without that specific distraction.
"The most important part for me is to help young girls discover their super powers," Brumfield said. "That is the mission, that is the goal, that is the energy behind it. When they discover their superpowers they are both theoretically and economically empowered to be fearless in the future.”
T-shirts and beanies for the current collection are available via the Yarn Movement website at https://products.yarnmovement.com and through Nicholas Mayfield's Instagram account @st.nicholasmfmayfield1st.