We actually created [masks] in 2017 for fashion and function. We were traveling to many cities and festivals for our pop ups and were susceptible to a lot. We needed something that would protect from germs and dust. It had to also include fashion being that half of our faces would be covered. Over the years, we’ve used our masks for many other functions in our everyday lives.
One important part of the Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT is highlighting safe and affirming places for trans and queer folx to purchase masks. In addition to this Q&A series, we maintain a list on the project homepage. This Q&A was crafted to highlight some unique aspects of the participating businesses and explore related issues, including the manifestation of racial justice in the LGBTQIA+ community and the real struggles of running a small business in this economy.
I discovered Stuzo Clothing through an article posted on DapperQ. I checked out their Insta and saw some gorgeous designs. So I reached out and they agreed to participate in our Q&A series.
Name: Stoney Michelli Love
Your Business Name: Stuzo Clothing
How do you describe your identity? I identify as an African-Latina, queer woman.
Tell us about your company. STUZO CLOTHING Although based in Los Angeles, our hearts beat to the drums of the big city of New York! Our mission is to create a space in the fashion world where all are welcome without judgment. Stuzo Clothing is a gender free clothing company designed to invoke thought and emotion. Our brand is for the non-conforming and bold at heart. Our pieces are gender free as we prefer to call them because clothes don’t have any organs last time we checked. We are inspired by love, people and life. Whatever shape or form you choose to exist in, we celebrate that!
Celebrities such as Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black), comedians Gina Yashere (Conan O’Brien, Def Comedy Jam) & Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip), Coco & Breezy, Lena Waithe (Master of None), Jada Pinkett Smith, and Spike Lee are some of the many that’s been known to rock their crowns. Wearing STUZO is like deciding what to wear with your crown today, what will you choose?
Clothes should be a form of expression and art and not to define gender. We design our logos and cut and sew pieces for humans in mind so anyone can wear it.
How did you decide to create and sell facemasks? We actually created them in 2017 for fashion and function. We were traveling to many cities and festivals for our pop ups and were susceptible to a lot. We needed something that would protect from germs and dust. It had to also include fashion being that half of our faces would be covered. Over the years, we’ve used our masks for many other functions in our everyday lives.
Please describe your mask style(s) for our readers. What inspired the design? Our masks are custom made topped with designs that speak volumes to all walks of life. We also make limited edition, lined masks made with imported fabrics from Africa & Panama. Our inspiration comes from our heart and culture.
The Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT was established to connect trans and queer community members with facemask vendors that are respectful & safe. We live in a world where bakeries go to the Supreme Court to deny us wedding cakes and health care providers want to deny care to transgender neighbors. It is not a big leap for those of us who are queer to imagine being refused a chance to buy a mask when that is legal, like in most of Pennsylvania. That’s why I want to highlight your masks. Being safe isn’t just about wearing the mask, it has to be about securing the mask in the first place. Your thoughts? We believe in human rights for all and find anything less than that heartbreaking. The constant stripping of our human rights as queer people is a major problem in our world. That’s why we’re advocates of human rights, boldly and loudly with our designs.
It is also important for all of us to support local/queer owned/ally owned small businesses. How have you and the business been navigating these past months of plague, economic uncertainty, and demands for racial justice? We’ve had to be very crafty being that our store has closed temporarily and our events were canceled. It definitely took a toll on us financially as well as emotionally. We’ve remained safe through it all so that’s the silver lining.
You describe your creations as gender free. Tell us about that framing of your brand. Clothes should be a form of expression and art and not to define gender. We design our logos and cut and sew pieces for humans in mind so anyone can wear it.
How long do you plan to offer face masks? We will indefinitely continue to carry our masks.
What else can people buy from you? Our flagship store will reopen in the new year, stay tuned!
Where can our readers find you online and on social media?
Anything else you’d like readers to know? Live Your Truth!
Thank you, Stoney!
The Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT connects members of the trans and queer community with face masks to protect them during the coronavirus. This includes identifying safe vendors for purchasing masks as well as offering mask distributions. To sign up as a featured vendor, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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