This year I had the amazing opportunity to be the keynote speaker for my city's official Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. The annual event was in a beautiful historic hall full of an assembly of hundreds of diverse people. I spent months working on the speech, and I'm honestly very pleased with how it went over (full video below). While I did work on the speech for months, I must admit that there was something else that troubled me as I prepared to deliver the address- WHAT TO WEAR!?!?!?!?!
Admittedly, attire is one of the first things that I try to figure out before I prepare for a presentation/speech/event. It is not a shallow consideration, but in this line of work I understand the importance of image and that what I wear is part of my presentation. I have a very bold, energetic, and direct style of delivery, so my attire must also support these truths. Every photo that is snapped and shared on social media, as well as the impression that people feel/get when they meet me sends a message and I want that message to be accurate. To that end, on MLK Day I wanted to make a bold move and wear something that would be completely different than what people were expecting and so I designed my own fabric!
Since junior high school I have designed all kinds of stuff from my 8th grade graduation invitations, and my grand parents 40th anniversary invites, to posters for clients advertising their new service/business and church t-shirts and banners. I have been designing stuff for so long that I remember when it was called desktop publishing (now- it's graphic design) lol. Designing the fabric was different because I would be wearing it on stage in front of 1,000 plus people as well as on the news and in newspapers thereafter. I thought that I wanted it to look muted so I pulled 10 mostly black and white MLK photos that meant something to me and arranged them in a square that I had a fabric printing company repeat on cotton fabric. Of the 10 photos that I used most of them were black and white, but I used a couple with red to just add a little interest. What I didn't think was how bold it would look once that square graphic was repeated over and over and over again in a long sleeve button up shirt with a collar. JulianCreates did an amazing job tailoring the shirt from the fabric; however, in the final product the little bit of red was actually very bold- BUT I love it! On the day of the event I wore the shirt sans a tie and under a grey suit. Because of the suit, most people just thought I was wearing an abstract graphic shirt, but once you were close to me you could see iconic photographs of Dr. King and Coretta.
The shirt was a smashing success! I've only warn it twice but I was complemented repeatedly when I did. I did have someone on social media tell me "no, don't like it! Too much going on!" After reading that I politely informed her that I wasn't taking a survey lol. People on social media drive me crazy thinking that they can just critique and criticize everything and everyone- even complete strangers! I mean you wouldn't walk up to a stranger and say, "nope, don't like your shirt! Too much going on!" Sadly, people feel they have a right to do that online tho- UGH! But I digress...
I love my shirt! It is the most expensive shirt I own. I think the fabric cost me $150 and the tailor charged another $150 to create it. All in all, it was totally worth it and I cant wait to design more stuff!