Atlanta entrepreneurs Tisha Thompson of LYS Beauty and Lindsay Barnette of Kultured Misfits, came together to create a three-piece capsule collection, “Love Letters.”
Love Yourself (LYS) Beauty, the first Black-owned clean cosmetics brand at Sephora, and Kultured Misfits, an emerging premium unisex streetwear brand housed at retailers such as the prestigious WISHATL have combined their sense of style, love of culture, and a subtle homage to Black Greek life within the drop of this capsule.
The Love Letters collaboration will act as the first in-line women-only offering from Kultured Misfits. It will serve as a love letter for all who wear the styles, and was designed with women in mind, from comfort to flattery.
The limited-edition capsule dropped on August 31st, with inclusive sizing and was thoughtfully designed marrying the mantras of Love Your Self and We Were Never Meant to Fit In.
The “Love Letters” collection includes:
- The Influential Black W. Puffer Vest Jacket ($125) is a 100% polyester and nylon blend with a detachable hood and sleeves to convert the jacket into a fun and fashionable puffer vest.
- The Kultured Misfits staple color-blocked with Quarter-Zip Pullover in Confident Blush/ Empower Plum ($85) is 460 GSM French Terry also featuring the co-branded rubber badge branding. The featured hits are the applique love yourself branding on the back, the embroidered never fit in on the right sleeve, ribbed sleeve cuff and waistband for a premium hit, and finished with hidden slant pockets; sizes S-4XL.
- The W. Cargo Jogger Pants in Empower Plum ($85) pants also in 460 GSM French Terry, with duplicated embroidery on the left leg, ribbed hem cuff, and waistband, finished with a cargo pocket, meant to hold all of one’s LYS Lippies. Products have an extended crop to add a feminine fit and are inclusive; sizes S-4XL.
Disrupting the Industry: Love Letters Q&A
The Atlanta Voice spoke with both businesses to discuss Love Letters, collaboration, and more.
The Atlanta Voice: How did this collaboration ‘Love letters’ come to fruition?
Tisha Thompson: We’ve literally had this love affair for our brand since the beginning because we have a unique connection with Lindsay’s Director of Operations Sammy, who’s actually my brother-in-law and my sister’s husband. So, from day one, when I would see him wearing Kultured Misfits (KM) clothes with all the cool stuff like their tagline ‘Never Fit In’, it resonated with me so much because I had ‘Love Yourself’ and it was a match made in heaven having the messaging aligned so much.
Lindsay Barnette: The collaboration is the merging of two parts of the industry that still go together even outside of what we’ve done. Coming up with the Love Letters piece of it, it’s like a big part of Tisha’s brand, which has these words of encouragement and messages of inspiration that between your packaging and what ‘Love Yourself’ stands for. That’s part of what we’ve done is we’ve usually had small inscriptions or embroideries that incorporates the ‘never fit in’ sort of messaging in all our pieces. Launching a womenswear line, it’s like women even, you know, whether you wear makeup or don’t wear makeup, like you look at yourself in the mirror, you write those sticky notes or write dry erase notes on your mirror to give yourself an extra pep talk in the morning. The collection is meant to be a love letter you write to yourself and whether that’s the ‘you got this’ and ‘you can get through the day’, it helps give you get an extra boost of confidence.
TT: Also, we wanted our audience to know we see you and you are seeing and are represented with us. So that’s why we wanted to put a collection together that really spoke to all those people and, you know, people who are, like you said, a group of misfits like, you know, we’re writing our own story. We’re not trying to follow the traditional norms. We want to be disruptive and to be inclusive and authentic to us. We’re not trying to be like anybody else, just our most authentic selves. I feel like so much is about trying to be like everybody else or trying to fit into everybody else, instead of embracing your own unique identity.
AV: What does collaboration mean to you, especially in Black spaces?
TT: It’s so important because I’m always saying collaboration over competition. We are better together than these individual parts. I think what we need to realize we aren’t the ones we need to worry about. There is so much opportunity if we partner together to really build something unique and to share and have ownership in things that we generally create anyway. We’re generally the one influencing so many things that happen, but we don’t own or have any sort of connectivity to a lot of these things from a long journey perspective. So, the only way that really happens is if we unite better because when we’re our individual parts and pieces, it’s very difficult to get anywhere collectively as a solo individual. So, banding together and us being able to partner, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten some of the attention of major media or outlets or retailers that look at us because we’re so small as a single point.
TT: When we put our voices together, we tell this story and it shows two very powerful, amazing Black women telling this story of uplifting and being confident in who you are, then it screams loud for our shared voice in which we impact other women to do the same thing. With this collaboration, we create this collective, which turns into a ripple effect.
LB: Collaboration is extremely important, especially as Black women. We have this stereotype and truth of it’s more competition and there can only be one and for me, this partnership just shows we’re in two different verticals and we can still share space. We’re more alike than we are different, and I know that’s in our personal lives and in what our brands stands for. There’s room for both of us. We can talk to the same audiences, talk to separate audiences and find that kind of Venn Diagram center.
TT: I also think historically, unfortunately, when we were all trying to sit at somebody else’s table, there was only one, so it naturally created this competition of ‘I got to get the spot’. So, edging you out is the goal, but now that we’re creating our own tables, I don’t need your seat Now, I have all my own seats and I’m sitting whoever I want at this table and they’re going to look a lot like me. So, I think that’s the goal and the mission. Also, it’s hard to pull somebody up when you don’t have anything. Flight attendants always tell us on the plane to put your life vest on before helping others, but the problem is, when you didn’t have a life vest yourself, it was really challenging for us to really help anybody else. So, now that we’re really focusing on entrepreneurship and being more focused on owning things and creating our own spaces teaching other people to lead, guide, and mentor, it gives us opportunities to reach down and help other people.
LB: It’s also about pulling each other up, saving a space for each other and allowing you to have that space and not viewing someone in direct competition. It’s like I’m an expert in this, you’re an expert in this, so let’s come together.
AV: Love Letters launched Aug. 31, how long is the collaboration going to last?
TT: Due to supplies becoming limited, the collaboration was intended to have a short duration. We were hoping it would make it through the holidays, but it’s not looking like it, however, we are waiting. We aren’t sure, maybe it will be last until the holidays, but definitely not into the new year.
LB: Although we have little supplies, the first drop is showing encouraging signs at a round two. We’ve enjoyed working together and enjoyed seeing the reception we’ve gotten to the collection, and it has only inspired us more, like, we could do this again in a year. This time, however, we focus on the fashion space and creating from a fashion standpoint, maybe next time around we do a mix of both or even step into the gallery space. So, we’re in meetings and conversations already for sure.
AV: What kind of advice would you give to future black woman entrepreneurs or anyone who is looking for something to feed their soul?
LB: Going back to what we said earlier about collaboration over competition, we meant that both in the literal sense of ‘Who can you partner with’, but also how you evaluate what your brand or business is meant to be in the space and what problem are you solving. I think for both of us it was very much like identifying a problem and I’ve talked to people recently where this person has a business cutting grass. They’re solving a problem, but it doesn’t have that emotional tie to it. So, I know how challenging that can be because both of us are rooted in this emotional ‘this is why I started this’ mindset, and it saved my life. Not everyone starts their business because of that, but it’s realizing where do you want to be in the space, and do you want to be a disruptor? Do you want to just be additive to what’s already existing, which is not a problem, both are needed, but it’s taking that step back and recognizing like you don’t have to do it alone.
TT: Knowing your ‘why’ is so important and to have a mission behind what you’re trying to do is critical. So, I personally think the first question in starting something is identifying what problem you’re solving and communicate that to people and let them know you’re a solution to this problem, I think this is the quickest way to really get that visibility. It’s important to be open-minded to the journey. I think we go into entrepreneurship with this thinking of financial freedom and flexibility and an Instagram representation entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. It’s not a 9 to 5. It’s a nine to whenever, I feel like I work more than I did before. I make less money now than I did, honestly. Now, today I’m just getting started. It’s definitely an investment of your time. For advice, because you’re putting the money into the business and you’re growing the business, I would say level, set expectations and then manage your mindset as you grow. As you start to have the success, embrace it, you because sometimes I get into this imposter syndrome mentality of, ‘Oh my God, like I don’t deserve this’, but no, you do deserve that. You bust your butt off, invest, work hard, you grind, but stop to smell the roses and enjoy the journey because it is a journey.
LB: Also, if you’re not ready for a sprint, maybe reconsider. Everyone doesn’t have to be an entrepreneur. It’s not for everyone. Just invest in yourself like even for me, I still consider this to be very, very small, but I’ve realized the investment both that I’ve put in financially, but also in time and in the care, in the brand perception I have people every day that come and think that we’re a multimillion-dollar company. Also, another piece of advice is to celebrate yourself and the small wins, just because it isn’t a big win, still take the time to celebrate yourself.