Interview By Chelcee Johns. Photography By Teff Theory.
Rebuild. Renew. Refresh. This season here at Black Girl In Om we've dived into what it means to spring clean both inwards and outwards, the importance of setting yourself up for abundance and now the righteous creative Teff Theory, also known as Stephanie Nnamani, reminds us of how seamlessly both our refreshing and renewal can translate into the clothing we wear. You may know Teff Theory as the righteously creative visual artist publishing some of your favorite mood curation as she constantly pushes images that keep women of color, creativity and stunning palettes at the forefront but she is also inspiring the next generation of activists through her work.
Teff recently worked alongside Inher equally innovative sister Jennifer Nnamani, founder and creative director of Beau Monde Society (BMS), to launch Jennifer's 5th annual Fashion Envie (FE) showcase on Earth Day this past weekend. Jennifer brought together a dynamic collective of all women of color designers from across the country as Teff provided art direction and exquisite photography. These women and their work bring the topics of sustainable fashion and the importance of truly curating your life to the forefront. Be it the calming tones of the pieces or the self-reflective nature of the imagery, the Nnamani sisters and their all WOC team emerge us into the ways fashion is also an act of renewal, rebuilding and refreshing.
What we love most about Teff and everything she touches is the agency and purpose behind the work. Each project whether fashion or photography propels us to think about the ways we truly exist in the world. From our choices in fashion, art, and more Teff reminds us that wellness seeps into every area of our lives. This year's Fashion Envie collection featured Tokyo-based Eauseenon, N.C-based Kahkti, and L.A-based Thundress. Each creative focused on the idea of Metamorphosis and we can't help but seamlessly relate to the idea of transformation as an inward and outward process.
While our wellness journeys often walk the areas of meditation, and more Teff and Jennifer reminds us that what we chose to put on our bodies is just as important and makes a real impact in our society. Fashion Envie's Metamorphosis aims to address the abrupt reversal of human ethics and the beauty that resistance brings forth. This year’s class of designers focused on two narratives; Women Empowerment and the Immigrant Story. From intriguing storylines, colorful palettes and a commitment to sustainability, Metamorphosis encourages reflection and action.
Join us in our chat below as Teff talks all things creativity, fashion, sisterhood and self-care, be inspired to look at your clothing in a new light and implement wellness into every area of your life.
Chelcee Johns: We love your use of art, photography and fashion to tell this story! How did Beau Monde Society's Metamorphosis theme come to be? What inspired this theme in particular?
Teff Theory: Jennifer and I wanted to create something that was a representative of sustainability, individual identity, as well as the current political climate.
We chose METAMORPHOSIS, because we felt it embodied the transformative power the former two can impart on the latter. We believe it’s necessary to continue to add to the increasing representation of women in creative spaces, while amplifying the need for sustainable practices in those spaces. Fashion Envie rose as a response to the lack of platforms available to eco-conscious designers.
How do we expect the practice of sustainability to endure when we are not creating spaces that contribute and foster its growth? In utilizing art, fashion, and photography to tell this story, we tap into a familiar language common to the audience we want to reach. Additionally, we wanted to add to the narrative that recognizes activism is multifaceted; that it can extend across various mediums and still carry significance.
Chelcee Johns: The project also uses all WOC, why is this perspective so important? Of course, we know at BGIO that WOC aren't always uplifted in the spaces we would like to be, how did it feel to produce the project with this team and what did you learn about sisterhood?
Teff Theory: Working on a team of all WOC naturally unfolded. Coming together to work with women is something I had to learn and I value very deeply.
I come from a family of women. I have 3 sisters, my beautiful mother and cousins, and incredibly strong grandmothers. The energy and presence women possess in undeniably unmatched; immeasurable. To say sisterhood is a HUGE part of who I am and what I do is an understatement. Most of my projects are executed by myself, but literally every creative team I have belonged to to-date are comprised of all women of color. Usually my sisters (: ha!
Chelcee Johns: How does metamorphosis and the eco-conscious fashion play a role in your personal wellness as well as the women you've worked with?
Teff Theory: Metamorphosis embodies a transformative experience. For me, it emphasizes the commitment to and the pursuit of growth. Naturally, growth is central to establishing and maintaining any capacity of wellness.
Chelcee Johns: This month's theme here at BGIO centered around Spring Cleaning Within. We've had conversations on cleaning out both our internal and external closets. I think after this step is done, figuring out what to let back into our closets, more particularly when it comes to fashion, becomes a question. How would you say metamorphosis is also a cleaning out and becoming? How is fashion an extension of our "taking in, as we take out the old?"
Teff Theory: I can lend my personal experience: my introduction to sustainable practices began from learning how my dad got started with his clothing label in the late 70’s well into mid-90’s in my home country, Nigeria. He purchased pieces from what we called “secondhand stores” and would resell them anywhere he could. Later, he would begin customizing the pieces and eventually creating and selling his own designs. He did this as a way to establish a narrative he believed was missing, which expanded into him becoming the success and blueprint that he is today.
I was reintroduced into the concept in 2009/2010. I began thrifting, and essentially continuing where my father left off except I didn’t much take to commerce. I recall being amazed by the bargain while purchasing timeless, enduring pieces. My response was to share it with my audience via my blog then. Fast forward to 2012: my sister birthed the idea of her fashion company, Beau Monde Society and created Fashion Envie as a way to extend our stance on sustainable practices.
Transformation begins inward and transcends.
Considering the transformative/adaptive purpose of METAMORPHOSIS, and how we approach change: it requires being diligent and mindful of what is contributing to it and what isn’t and exercising the wisdom to eliminate and amplify what is needed.
Consciousness occurs in stages and it can literally introduce us to who we are.
It can inspire becoming.
Chelcee Johns: Certainly, we feel this transformation in the line.The images and pieces feel very light, free, engulfing and calming. Basically, they are amazing! What mood and tone did you want to invoke? What do you think is missing from this space at large?
Teff Theory: I created a color palette before going forward. I knew I wanted colors I perceive as Earth colors (though I contend all colors are earth colors (; . A lot of it was synchronicity and just simply aligning. My sister, Jennifer -- owner and curator of Beau Monde Society/Fashion Envie, initially wanted to shoot it in NY, but I didn’t believe NY would offer the necessary elements to bring the vision to fruition. So, we shot it in North Carolina
! I wanted to invoke a connection to nature. Living in NY, sometimes that connection gets lost on us. There aren’t enough...reminders.
I wanted this project to be that reminder!
Chelcee Johns: What are you most excited about this recent showcase and how can readers continue to journey with you and Fashion Envie?
Teff Theory: I am very excited to engage the audience! In the idea of growth, of commitment, of active participation, and the importance of cultivating mindfulness.
Fashion Envie is an annual event that takes place ceremoniously on Earth Day. This is its 5th installment and it’ll continue to grow each year, taking place on that day we take time to honor that we belong to a large system beyond our own Humanity.
Chelcee Johns: Agreed! And, I'm wondering how has your self-care evolved in this process and what are a few your self-care staples when you are in the midst of creating?
I’ve said creativity is self-care.
Every creative experience is rewarding in that it is renewing. I approach it every time as a student, because I am. You can only learn if you are receptive to it.
Some of my self-care staples and reminders:
- Pace yourself and breathe.
- Things do not always go as planned, but they always go as intended.
- Honor those creative impulses and how they guide you.
- Sleep! Haha
Chelcee Johns: Teff, thank you so much for talking to us about Metamorphosis, the amazing line produced by eco-conscious women of color and really reminding us that both our wellness and activism can literally be threaded into every part of our lives!
Chelcee Johns is a digital nomad, Detroit native, editor/content strategist and word & world-loving soul. She is based between Harlem and Detroit, and recently called Bali home for a year. Her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past 7 years with organizations such as Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.