Greetings, Hip Hapa Homeez.
A big up! to Tiffany Rae Reid for featuring Your Hip Hapa on her Mixed Race Radio show of September 26. A good time was had by all. Tiffany is such a great supporter of all mixies and was HAPA to promote our Watermelon Sushi film and Hapa*Teez t-shirts that supports the making of it. To listen to the show, go to this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mixed-race-radio/2012/09/26/yayoi-winfrey-invites-you-to-watermelonsushi
For those of you who are in constant contact, you know how much we—our Watermelon Sushi movement team—appreciate your support. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without you. If you've ever purchased a Hapa*Teez t-shirt, please send us a photo so we can feature you in our next YouTube video. Or, if you’re the shy type, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can personally thank you. As you may know, every supporter earns a rear crawl credit. Here's our current YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBIMaJUljjI
Speaking of t-shirts, there’s been more than a few out there that proclaim pride in being multiracial. But some, like SommaBaby, are really special. This month we’re featuring Kris Packer, Founder and Director of SommaBaby Clothing Company, and her line of t-shirts.
Q: Kris, who are your parents and how did they meet?
A: My mother is of both African-American and Native American descent. My father is Mulatto (a person of mixed white and black ethnicity).
Q: How did you grow up?
A: I had a very interesting experience, growing up. I did not grow up in a mixed-race neighborhood at all. I’ve said many times in many interviews, that my upbringing was very normal until I was old enough for people to feel comfortable questioning me about my racial background. I mean, coming from a multiracial family, a lot of the women in my family looked like me. All of my siblings looked like me. I have multiracial cousins as well, so I experienced early emergence into the multiracial community. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very heterogeneous environment at home. Unfortunately, school and my community was a different story. That is where I experienced my discomfort. School, particularly, is where I had to answer the most racial questions and fight my racial battles. School was where I had to choose one race and choose one crowd to fit in with. School is where I had to do all of my explaining.
Q: How did you come up with the idea and the name for Somma Baby?
A: SommaBaby is the manifestation of YEARS of me looking for that perfect t-shirt that said what I wanted a tee to say. I NEVER sat down and said, "Let me design a clothing line”! I’m extremely visual. I know exactly what I want in clothing because I “see” it in my mind before I even begin shopping. I always “saw” these tees. I was just never able to find them in the stores! After years of waiting on other designers to create my perfect tee, I finally just took the reins and did it myself. But, I soon realized that I did it more for the multiracial community than myself. I saw how the world was changing its feelings towards the multiracial community and I wanted to support that change. I thought these tees would be good “conversation starters”. I thought they would help build confidence in our youth. I truly saw their potential to promote unity in our society, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of something so big.
The name, SommaBaby, is what we call a person who is “some of this race and some of that race”. It’s actually the term I used to use for myself when people would ask me that million-dollar question that most mixed-race people know too well, “What are you?” It was my way of
diverting the awkward inquisition into light humor to avoid having to explain my racial background to everyone who asked me. Times have changed so much now. Now, the questions don’t bother me at all. I used this term as the name for my brand as a way of paying homage to my past experiences. After all, those experiences are what shaped me into the person who was able to see the tees and create them.
Q: Your line of t-shirts is more than about clothing; you have teams of young mixed-race women promoting them. Talk a little about your team concept. And is Rain Pryor, Richard Pryor's mixed-race daughter, a part of your team?
|more of Team SommaBaby|
A: I realized, early, that this clothing line was bigger than me. As I said earlier, after sketching the first design, I realized that I had to do this for the multiracial community more than for myself. After our very first photo shoot, it became clear to me that our mission to truly unite the multiracial community and greatly impact society would begin in my target market. I saw strength in the youth early in the process and I didn’t want to lose that strength and authenticity. So, we formed a group, called Team SommaBaby. Most of these girls are the original girls who modeled our clothing. However, over time, others have joined the group just to support the cause. Some model and others find their perfect place within the group. They help promote the brand through social networks, word of mouth, public appearances, marketing campaigns, etc. THEY are the brand. Through them, I am able to see how SommaBaby Clothing Co. will make an impact on the world. In my eyes, these twenty-five girls represent twenty-five million girls just like them all over the world.
|Rain Pryor, on left|
People who follow us on Twitter and Facebook ask me a lot about Rain Pryor’s involvement with SommaBaby. She is a beautiful spirit and a hilarious lady! We love her because she supported us the moment she heard about us. She has been a huge blessing to the company and we will always consider her to be part of our team. In our conversations regarding the multiracial movement, she once told me, “it takes a village…”, and we are so thankful for all she has done to help us in our growth.
Q: What about the men?
A: Before we began producing a single garment, we tested the market with our samples to find our main buyer base. It was young girls and women, mainly, who showed interest in the brand. So, we decided to target the demographic that presented the highest demand. However, we are definitely working on men’s designs for next year’s collections. Part of our mission was to create a brand that supported our belief in non-exclusion in the multiracial community. We want to stand on that same principle as it relates to gender. So, our team is busy creating designs for the SommaBaby men as well.
|and more of Team SommaBaby|
Q: How have your t shirts impacted the mixed race community in terms of feedback and support?
A: SommaBaby tees are like walking billboards for the mixed-race community. That’s what tees are nowadays--an outward expression of who we are, what we think, and an outward expression of our freedom of speech. So, they “speak” on behalf of each person who wears one of our t-shirts. I knew this brand was special to me, but it really became clear to me that it was special to the world when the e-mails began to come in. Girls all over the world tell us that we are “speaking their life stories” through our t-shirts. They pull me aside and say, “This tee is exactly what I have said to people all my life.” Some tell me that they had become so comfortable with just falling into a single “box” because it was easier to live in society as just one race, until they found our brand. Can you imagine how it feels to know that you are part of the reason why a person changes how he or she views himself for the rest of his or her life? It’s amazing. Our supporters say, “Please don’t stop.” They say, “Keep pushing so
that life will be easier for my children or grandchildren.”
|yet more of Team SommaBaby|
Q: Any future projects besides the t shirts?
A: Yes. I am in meetings as we speak, discussing our next moves for the upcoming quarter. Right now, we are keeping our focus on the t-shirts but we definitely have
plans to move into some other arenas in the future. We will also be focusing on imparting some more into our community because we always want to fulfill our mission to help nurture and edify the community we serve.
Okay, Hip Hapa Homeez, here’s the 411 on where to get your SommaBaby t-shirts. Just click the links:
Etsy: SommaBabyClothingCo (one word)
Facebook: e-commerce linkwholesale orders, email: email@example.com
Good news, HHH! We recently passed the 1000th viewing of our War Brides of Japan video on YouTube. We thank you for sharing the link to our documentary project. Don't forget, we have a version two. You can also check out our Facebook page to stay updated. In fact, if you’re on Facebook, you can check out Watermelon Sushi and Hapa*Teez, too. And, you can send a request for membership in our Hip Hapa Homeez group where we share discussions about mixed-race, multiethnic, transracial adoptee, interracial relationship, and culture-crossing communities. Here’s a list of all our links.
Until next time, I will always be
Your Hip Hapa,