As soon as I published the previous post about how wonderful my b.loved clothing was I received an email from founder Jeremy Wells answering a few questions about the mission he and Barbara set forth with their company. I decided that I had to include the open dialogue he offered about why he does it and feels his campaign is important. I’ve decided to lay it out verbatim here so please enjoy… And BIG THANKS to Jeremy for sharing!
__With the new findings last week about Prop 8 being deemed unconstitutional, what are you thoughts?
It is clear that society is finally speaking up and making changes for the better. Government should not be able to tell people who they are to love and enter commitments with. America was founded on basic ideals of equality and freedom of choice. We mustn’t forget this. Also, with such violence and disarray in the world today… isn’t any love good love? Our mission is to spread as much love and tolerance as we can for all people, regardless of race, creed, orientation…anything. It never ceases to amaze me how devoid most people are of real love, and how quickly they cheer up when you give them some. Get your asses out and give somebody a compliment, or tell them you love them, for who they are. I bet it will change your life!
__What made you start this campaign and keeps you driven to continue the fight for equality?
The b.loved brand sprouted from another project that I started a few years ago called b.lo skateboards. I met Barbara Riso at a time when I was looking for a new graphic designer to help breathe new life into the skateboard business. We clicked right away and started kicking around ideas and playing with word monikers around the “b” b.happy, b.yourself etc. b.loved was an “aHa!” moment for the two of us. It was almost serendipitous, because around the same time I had been greatly moved by the news of Jamie Rodemeyer’s suicide. He was a local kid from my town. His youtube video brought me to tears. There were so many suicides and beatings and atrocities, and I knew a great number were not even being reported. I said to myself immediately, “There has to be something I can do to help stop this. These poor kids feel like they have nowhere to turn!”
We delved into anti-bullying, gathering as much information as we could, and hooked up with our local Pride Center to see what they could offer for kids who were questioning their sexuality. They welcomed us with open arms and told us about their Cultural Competency Training program for schools and institutions. It is a fantastic, real-world, training on LGBT issues that is given to teachers, educators, and students alike to help them better understand what these kids might be going through. There was a problem… money. The Pride Center was able to get government grants for many great services, mostly health related, but this program was grossly underfunded and as directors Jorien Brock and Damian Martinez pointed out, it couldn’t be at a more needed time. That was it! We decided to use our brand’s first launch to help fund the program. It became our mission. The alliance with the Pride Center created many open doors and opportunities and it seems like people were just coming out of the woodwork to help us. It feels really good. And let me state that Damian and Jorien are angels. They work day and night to make the community a better place. We love them for it.
__Any immediate plans for your product and getting it out to others?
b.loved has been participating in events to create awareness. We have a Don’t H8 function set up this Wednesday at a beautiful restaurant in downtown Buffalo NY. We were invited to a fashion show at the end of February, which we are very excited about, and we are constantly looking for new ways to spread our messages. It’s a great brand. The clothes are beautiful, stylish and we are linking launches with great causes. One of our next clothing launches is going to have an environmental cause linked to it. We want to take b.loved global and always find ways to give back.
__Any thoughts about getting with other NoH8 groups and gathering forces?
Yes. We already have an open dialogue with the wonderful people at NoH8. They are doing amazing stuff and creating quite an awareness. They loved our work and our ideas and we are finding ways to work together. Other organizations have contacted us and we are in the midst of getting things rolling with them. It has been a wonderful start thus far and we feel so grateful for all the help we are receiving. That goes for you too Mr. Steven Michael! We appreciate all you do. Hope to see you out, strutting your stuff and wearing our clothes! b.yourself b.loved!