In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move campaign, an initiative that encouraged children to prioritize their health and wellness. While the program centered kids, the spotlight was on Mrs. Obama’s body instead.
Political commentators started focusing on Obama’s muscular frame and compared her figure to other public figures, which opened the door to a larger conversation about Black women and their bodies.
This wasn’t lost on Kia Phillips and Nekol Gaskin.
In 2016, they came together with a shared vision to create a brand, Glamourina, that encapsulated the Black diaspora while empowering women to feel at home in their bodies.
This was a bold goal, considering that despite the widespread fodder about the state of Black women’s fitness, the group was largely underrepresented in the activewear market. Despite being valued at $303.44 billion in the U.S., you’d be hard pressed to see a race and size inclusive ad for the larger athletic wear brands. “We almost never saw women that looked like us showcased in commercials, billboards or anything like that,” said Philips.
What started as a blog highlighting Black fashion designers, the busy moms decided to take the plunge and create their own apparel to address the disparate representation in the activewear industry. Philips, who is a certified personal trainer, and Gaskins, a graphic designer, brainstormed concepts for fitness-inspired outfits that complimented Black women’s frames and tones.
“We were very intentional about making the brand culturally inspired,” Gaskins said, explaining that a key focus of their brand was celebrating the Black heritage in every piece of clothing. This is evidenced by their logo, which is a silhouetted shape of Africa. They also draw influences from Kente and Ankara prints, which can be seen in some of the brand’s designs.
“We hadn’t seen that done at the time, and still today, very few businesses are doing what we’re doing,” Gaskins shared with Essence. “So I think once we recognized the need, we were like, as moms, we don’t want to let ourselves go. Let’s maintain our bodies. Let’s maintain our self care. And the fact that Black women weren’t put into the forefront of these fitness ads for major brands, we wanted to do something about that.”
The mompreneurs launched the brand less than six years ago, and have already made significant waves in the fashion space. They recently announced that Glamourina will be a headlining designer for The Model Experience New York Fashion Week show on September 11th. “We’re really honored because this show will have a lot of big names in attendance and Glamourina will be showcasing alongside celebrity designers including Project Runway finalists,” said Philips.
She also stated that this was a significant accomplishment for them both because they are both still working full-time jobs in addition to running their company–not to mention they are moms as well. “It’s not easy at all, but we are committed to reminding other women, and each other that we can accomplish our dreams as long as we don’t forget about ourselves in the process.”