Fashion Lookbook Interviews

‘F**k your Racist Grandma:’ Olatiwa Karade is taking the internet by storm with these sweaters

Need a holiday sweater that’ll look fantastic and also shut down your racist relatives during your Christmas family dinners? Look no further.

Olatiwa Karade is looking out for exasperated shoppers of color with her powerfully unapologetic apparel. Inspired by personal experiences and frustrations and an ever-turbulent political climate, the young New Jersey-based student has pushed the envelope in activist apparel that addresses issues from the romanticization of genocide in a Eurocentric educational system while also tackling the everyday microaggressions that marginalized groups – black women in particular – continuously trudge through. We were able to talk to her about her process, her inspiration, and what message she hopes her work will spread to the masses:

The Tempest: How did you come up with the idea and design of these sweaters?

Olatiwa Karade: After being heavily involved in the 2016 presidential elections, I walked away dismayed with both sides of the political ticket. The right had at this point become Nazi’s and Nazi sympathizers, openly admitting that they did not care for marginalized people or the conditions we must endure. Liberals seemed more concerned with singing “Kumbaya” and holding hands with eyes closed than acknowledging and dismantling systematic oppression against people of color. I was frustrated with being silenced, and exhausted of suppressing the anger. I printed my “angry” thoughts onto sweaters with glitter and flowers and realized our anger is more than justified, its human.

What message do you hope people who visit your store will take away and spread from your apparel?

I hope to normalize Pro-Black thoughts and ideas. Pro-Blackness is almost always labeled extreme or “radical.” I want people to acknowledge how relatable our messages are, and to remove the negative connotations and idea of “aggression” around wishing for the preservation and betterment of the lives of people of color.

 How would you say activist apparel plays a role in the way youth can express themselves and get involved in social activism?

I would say activist apparel makes political statements accessible and attractive to youth. The way the world is, we’re kept so busy with working to survive and going to school, that we often don’t have time for political movements. It’s so much easier when you can throw on a sweater and make your stance known to the public.

Which sweater gave you the most satisfaction to see sell out?

“F*ck your Racist Grandma” is perhaps my boldest message. When that one sold out, I knew I wasn’t alone in my thoughts! We have to stop coddling people who have harmful and hateful beliefs, and I am glad other people recognize and support that.

Do you have any further designs planned?

Olatiwa Karade: Absolutely! Once we’re through the holiday rush, we plan to do some major expansions including tote bags and t-shirts!

Olatiwa’s shop, Splendid Rain Co. regularly re-stocks apparel and is the perfect gift for those looking to send a message beyond just jolly good cheer this holiday season.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 


Laila Alawa speaks to Entrepreneur Before 25 podcast about the story behind The Tempest

The Tempest’s CEO Laila Alawa spoke with Chelann Gienger from the Entrepreneur Before 25 (EB25) podcast. EB25 interviews inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs like Laila who began their journey whilst aged 25 or under.

[bctt tweet=”I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Laila talked about her background, her family, why she started The Tempest, and life as an entrepreneur.

Whilst explaining the realities of chasing your dreams, Laila also divulged some gems of advice for budding entrepreneurs. She dived in deep and discussed why being a people pleaser has the potential to destroy freedom.

“I used to live my life very afraid of hurting others, I found that I started being put in situations where my people pleasing hurt me.”

Listen to the entire podcast here.

Tech Now + Beyond

Serial entrepreneur Jennifer Chizua is breaking stereotypes in Nigeria


Nigerian-born entrepreneur and inventor Jennifer Chizua is an incredibly interesting woman. Like me, she’s a graduate of the University of Exeter in the U.K. Unlike me, she graduated with degrees in human biosciences and sport science. She calls herself a “serial entrepreneur.”

This lady loves to create something out of nothing, finding gaps in the market to create jobs and products that can revolutionize the industries.

She’s an award-winning entrepreneur with firms in two sectors: Elite Sports International Clubs is a sports business and management firm, and the other is Startpreneurs, an entrepreneurial ecosystem based out of Abuja, Nigeria.

It was a bit of a challenge to juggle the six-hour time difference between us, but Jennifer answered some of my questions about being a young woman blazing a trail in the entrepreneurial world.

The Tempest:  What is the mission of your business?

My current firm is Startpreneurs. It is a seed-fund and accelerated program that allows entrepreneurs to incubate, and we also match them with industry experts. It’s also similar to the tech clusters in Silicon Valley. At the moment, we don’t have a website but we will be going live in January. In the meantime, I want to do a pilot video and compile videos of the entrepreneurs before that happens.

Back in 2013, I created my own product, Chijen Beauty Limited, which is the world’s first automated cleaning machine. It uses innovative technology to clean, dry, and disinfects makeup brushes for professional makeup artists. It was with the financing of the U.K. government that I was able to do this, and now I’m hoping to get a licensing deal with L’Oreal.

The idea for the product came about in university, when I had to do two dissertations while studying at Exeter University. One of these was called “A Chemical History of Cosmetics.” I realized then that there is a lot of bacteria on our makeup brushes. I heard one horrible story of a woman who became paralyzed after sharing makeup brushes with her friend due to lack of hygienic care.

What’s your background in business and how did you start as an entrepreneur?

While I was in the U.K., I also started to work at Manchester United as well. This lead to me doing a lot of networking and finding out about Business Growth Hub in Manchester, so I started taking classes for my master’s degree there. I grew up with parents who were entrepreneurial – for example, my mother is an entrepreneur. I also knew that I wanted to be independent and rely on myself, and always knew I wanted to create my own company. So I took it and ran with it.

Have you faced any difficulties being a female in the business?

With starting Startpreneurs, I have faced difficulties. This is because in Nigeria, for example, women are not equal to men. The general idea is that we should be at home. I have to break that stereotype.

I also meet investors who buy shares into the company, and a lot of these are men. A lot of times they will treat you differently because they feel like you don’t have enough experience or that you don’t know your place. I’m almost overly prepared when I meet them – in fact, I’m the very best I can be when I meet them. It’s very sexist here. Very sexist. I’ve been told, “Why are you working so hard, don’t you have a boyfriend or husband who takes care of you?” Even in business, if you’re a married woman, people tend to take you more seriously because you have ‘settled down’ in comparison to being single and working.

The greatest challenges by far are that women are being put in a box by society, and I have to break out of that stereotype. It’s more of a cultural thing, really. When you’re a female, you’re expected to know your place as a woman. But I see people as equals. I can still be female and be assertive at the same time. But here in Nigeria, the society doesn’t allow you to have a personality and be a female simultaneously. For me, I’m very much out there as a woman. Every day is a fight for me as a professional. But for men who do what I do, they don’t have to fight so much.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to see Startpreneurs grow and support entrepreneurs in Nigeria. I’d also like to create international exposure for Nigerians. If they have software or hardware ideas, it should be visible to the international market. I’d like to export technology in and from Nigeria.

What advice would you give to young women looking to become entrepreneurs?

My advice would be to have their own identity and career path, as well as being an expert and having great knowledge in what you’re going into. Tenacity goes a very long way. As entrepreneurs, we have the highest highs and the lowest lows, and your tenacity will get you through these things.

Along with consistency, remember that it’s going to be a long, hard, rocky road, once their vision is clear and they know what they want to do. Also, I can’t stress this point enough, but it is so important to have a mentor or mentors. You need to have industry experts around you, especially when it comes to offering you free advice. You’ll have to self-learn, always be curious, and learn to teach yourself too. Understanding every part of the business is critical as well as being very knowledgable.

Don’t let yourself be confined by cultural restrictions, because in the end they will celebrate when you make it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Find out more about Jennifer Chizua here.