For those who haven’t discovered NopeSisters Clothing… Let’s take it back to 2016 when the New Zealand based sisters Brit and Johanna founded its existence. Sparked by a simple idea of hand stitching a t-shirt to replicate the scars left behind from breast cancer treatment, in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and inspired by their mother’s own battle. After sharing on social media, the response to the 'mastectotee' came rolling in by people across the globe, who were also keen to own, wear and share the message.
Continuing to make dope stuff for good causes; there are now five tees out in the world each embroidered with five designs across the chest in support of five charities that they hold close to their hearts. Having sold over 1200 shirts, the girls are working hard to keep on providing their chosen organisations with funding’s, “It’s a great partnership - we make and market the tees, to financially assist the organisations we know can effect the positive social change we want to see.”
Let’s be real, these t-shirts are not only carrying powerful messages, raising money for some incredible charities but are also just damn right aesthetically pleasing (along with their Instagram) and the best part is they are for all genders. So be sure to grab yourself a tee or two and spread the word that these hard working sisters have created. As Johanna says, “we know that making a t-shirt might not change the world, but if it gives wearers some courage to speak out, or enables them to talk about the social issues attached to our design, then we are hopeful that, slowly, change can happen.”
Also make sure to read the interview below to hear all about the journey of NOPESISTERS, in-depth detail behind each t-shirt and charity and some advice for those who have experienced or are suffering with mental health, cancer and/or sexual assault.
Hey Brit & Johanna, how’s life treating you?
Hi! Good thanks, pretty hectic!
Focusing on you two, can you briefly introduce yourselves?
Brittany is 24 and the co-founder and designer of NopeSisters Clothing. Johanna, aged 25, is a co-founder of Nopesisters Clothing, and also an actor and comedian (currently on tour with a solo show in Aus and NZ).
How did NopeSisters Clothing kickstart?
Nopesisters was created after Brittany stitched the first design - The Mastectotee; which was made for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2016 in honour of our Mum. We didn’t realise at the beginning how much it would grow. The whole process has been very organic and we’ve encountered some steep learning curves. It literally started with a hand stitched t-shirt and Instagram post - and now we’ve sold over 1200 t-shirts in five designs all over the world.
This isn’t any ordinary clothing brand, existing with a much deeper purpose. Can you further on your mission and what you are raising awareness of?
NopeSisters exists as a Social Enterprise where we act as a conduit for important conversations around social issues that affect everyone. Our designs focus on a message that is important to us - with a logo or bold words stitched across the chest. These encourage people to talk about their tees, and wearers often get asked to explain what they are wearing. We sell our fashion for a cause. We are partnered with 5 different and incredible charities, each represented by a different design. These organisations do outstanding work in our local community - we work with and support CanSurvive Breast Cancer Dragon Boat Team, Wellington Sexual Abuse Help, the Wā Collective, Youthline Wellington and the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. It’s a great partnership - we make and market the tees, to financially assist the organisations we know can affect the positive social change we want to see.
How is it all going so far/have you had a positive response?
The response has been overwhelmingly sensational. Social media has been a very important tool for us in terms of connecting with people globally. The supportive community that has established itself around NopeSisters is a beautiful thing. We have so many friends and collaborators who support what we do, and offer their photography and design services for free, so that we have more profit left for our charities. It’s also exciting seeing people on the street wearing the tees and having important conversations around sexual abuse, breast cancer or period poverty simply because they wear NopeSisters clothing.
When someone purchases a tee the money is going to a good cause, can you explain how this works?
Once all costs are deducted we share our profits directly with the corresponding charity linked to each t-shirt's message. This is the ethos of a true social enterprise. The Mastectotee profits go to CanSurvive, the Nope Tee goes to Wellington Sexual Abuse Help, the Period Tee goes to Wā Collective (who provide subsidised, sustainable menstrual cups to tertiary students) the Nope for Hope tee goes to Youthline's teen counselling services and the #MeWeToo t-shirt profits are split between Sexual Abuse Prevention Network and Sexual Abuse Help.
There are two items that stand out for me, one being the NOPE tee and the other the MastectoTee. Why did you create these in particular?
The NOPE tee was created to create awareness around healthy relationships and kick start extremely important conversations around consent. Having directly experienced sexual abuse and harassment this was very close to the heart for us and especially in the wake of the #mewetoo movement. The MastectoTee was created to celebrate and normalise the scars of Breast Cancer Survivors and was created in honour of our mother who is a Breast Cancer survivor herself. The logo is based on her surgery scar.In the beginning Brittany hand stitched each t-shirt but due to the demand we outsourced the stitching to a local Wellington Embroidery company A1 Embroidery and Apparel, who replicated her hand stitching.
You call your products ‘dope stuff’ any reason behind this? And can they be purchased offline?
We want our products to be relevant and wearable. Our ethos reflects us and is indicative of a fierce attitude that is definitely a family trait. We occasionally do stalls and charity events but each of our t-shirts is custom made to order. This is especially important for the mastectotee because wearers want their scar stitched on the relevant side, or double scars for a double mastectomy.
Do you have any advice for those suffering with mental health, experienced sexual assault and/or dealing with cancer?
There is incredible help out there - don’t be afraid to reach out. Sexual Abuse Help and Youthline especially provide direct counselling services that are very accessible. The Cancer Society is an amazing resource, and for survivors who want to thrive - the international sport of dragon boating offers amazing health and well-being benefits to thousands of breast cancer survivors around the world. Looking after yourself and what you need most important and make sure you have a strong support network.
What does 2018 have in store for you?
We have some very exciting collaborations and more tee designs with strong social messages in the pipeline - so stay tuned!
Can people donate to the charities you work alongside without buying anything?
Yes! Absolutely our charities can always use your financial help! Please donate - all links are on our products listed on our website www.nopesistersclothing.com.
Any final words?