African Stretch Fabric with Danielle Pierce

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:49:54 African Stretch Fabric with Danielle Pierce



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Danielle Pierce

In addition to her work as a designer, Danielle Pierce is the proprietor of African Stretch Fabrics, a small business that delivers big impact designs and fabrics. For the first time ever, Danielle is offering COTTON LYCRA (which just sew happens to be Lisa’s favorite apparel knit fabric). This is a TEST run to see how sell the fabric sells.  So get it while you can! 

Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers on Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville, Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

From the episode

  • Danielle’s parents’ love story began at her grandfather’s tailor shop when her mother applied for a seamstress job and met her father, adding a touch of romance to the family’s sewing legacy.
  • A black-and-white picture from 1968 captures a protest outside Danielle’s grandfather’s tailor shop on Main Street in Memphis, symbolizing the shop’s significance as a gathering place for black people and their fight for justice.
  • The resilience and determination passed down through generations, as Danielle’s family overcame challenges and established themselves in the world of sewing, leaving a lasting legacy.
  • The connection between sewing, creativity, and personal expression, highlighting the transformative potential of this craft in shaping individuals’ identities and narratives.

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Danielle Pierce




Read Full Transcript

​​Lisa  0:00  

Hey friends, hey. Before we begin, let me introduce you to Kimberly Cartwright, a wonderful African American art quilter with a great project. I already got my tickets and accommodations. I will include links in the show notes, but here's Kimberly to tell you more.

Kimberly  0:15  

Hello. My name is Kimberly Pierce Cartwright, and I'm here to tell you about a unique opportunity coming to Durham, North Carolina. Are you an African American quilter looking to connect with others who share your passion for this timeless art form? Then mark your calendars for Kindred Spirits, a convergence of African American quilters happening on June 15th through 17th in Durham, North Carolina. Join dynamic instructors Cookie Washington, Kena Dorsey, Aisha Lumumba, and Kianga Jinaki to learn new techniques, perfect your skills, and share your love for quilting with fellow enthusiasts. But that's not all. We're excited to announce that curators Dr. Marshall Price of the Nasher Museum in Durham and Dr. Renee Anderson from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC will also be in attendance to share insight on making museum connections. Don't miss out on this opportunity to connect with like-minded quilters, learn from top-notch instructors, and deepen your appreciation for this beautiful art form. Register today. Go to I'll repeat. Go to R C W M S  dot org, and scroll down to "Events" to register. It's a convergence of African American quilters in Durham, North Carolina, June 15 through 17.

Lisa  1:46  


Lisa Woolfork  1:54  

Hello Stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together. 

Lisa  2:21  

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. And as I say every week, this is a very special episode, because this episode happens to be published during a time when I can really help you get your stitch together. And that is by introducing you to none other than Danielle Pierce, the proprietor of African Stretch Fabrics. That's right, African Stretch Fabrics. 

Welcome Danielle, thank you so much for being here for the Stitch Please podcast. And you have a pre-order coming up. And when I saw that, I was like, "People must know, people must know." And so [Laughter] because I want to know and I don't want to hoard the knowledge. So, welcome, Danielle Pierce. Thank you so much for being with us today. Before we jump into how much we are loving your African Stretch Fabric, can you talk about your sewing story? What is your relationship to sewing, needle arts, etc? How did that get going for you?

Danielle  3:26  

Okay. Well, hey Lisa. Thank you for inviting me onto the podcast. So, my sewing story starts-- if you wanna go back, back-- about 100 years.

Lisa  3:38  

Okay, girl.

Danielle  3:39  

My granddad--

Lisa  3:41  

Yeah, story, please. 

Danielle  3:43  

So, yeah, so in 1924-- so 99 years ago-- my granddad opened his first tailor shop in Arkansas. And, you know, I'm from Memphis. So, when my granddad had his tailor shop, all my uncles worked at the tailor shop with him. He was hiring for a new-- he needed a new seamstress and my mom came in to apply for the job, where she met my dad. [Laughter] So, yeah. So-- my family-- I've been around sewing my entire life. Yeah.

Lisa  4:23  

That is a beautiful story. Listen, Danielle. People have been telling me- because I have a sewing podcast and people who love-- "Girl, I've been sewing forever. I've been sewing since-- you know, me and the Lord was walking together to the Joanne's. I've been sewing since the ancient days." Listen. The idea that your mama met your daddy at your grandfather's tailor shop meant that you were indeed framed and stitched in love before you even arrived. 

Danielle  4:57  


Lisa  4:57  

This is so beautiful. Oh my goodness. So tell me-- what was, of course people get, you know, get born into all manner of families, you know, like some families are, you know, maybe they're really religious, they're very churchy, or, you know, they really love art. And so everyone has to learn to draw or learn to visit galleries, you know. Some people are really into sports, you know, so if you're a sports fan, you buy these little, you know, sport type things for your children. Look at me trying to talk about sports. I sound like someone who really doesn't like sports. [Laughter] You know, that ball with the foot in the soccer and, you know, numbers on the back, you know, people that like sports. You know, but you were able to be born into a family where the needle arts was really significant. And I think it's delightful, and so powerful, that your grandfather had a tailor shop. To be a Black man, owning a shop like that, in Arkansas, being able to have his own business and support his family, support the community, that is incredible. That's really-- do you have any archives from that time, like any, like, newspaper ads, or any records or anything like that?

Danielle  6:09  

There are. Well, my granddad, you know, moved to Memphis, that's where, you know, everything-- kind of where the family was, and everything. He moved to Main Street in Memphis. And back then that was like a big deal. 

Lisa  6:25  


Danielle  6:25  

Like, there were no Black people with businesses on Main Street. 

Lisa  6:30  


Danielle  6:30  

And so I have this picture- ooh I wish I had it up, but I'll send it to you after this.

Lisa  6:36  

Please do. 

Danielle  6:36  

But it's a picture of a protest in 1968, in front of his tailor shop on Main Street. And it's a black and white picture, and I love it. It's like my favorite thing. It was like a group of Black men, and they're like, linked arms together. 

Lisa  6:55  

Oh, my gosh. 

Danielle  6:56  

And I don't know what it was. But like, we have that picture. And it says, you know, "Pierce on Main Tailor Shop" in the background.

Lisa  7:06  

But you don't know why they were gathered what the occasion was. 

Danielle  7:10  

No, I need to do some research and figure out what was happening that day.

Lisa  7:16  

Please do that research, please. Or-- and it might just be asking your mother, what's-- your parents what they might remember, or uncles what they might remember. Or even, like, digging into the the Google newspaper database that has old newspapers.

Danielle  7:35  


Lisa  7:35  

So you can go to something called LexisNexis. It's a database for legal scholars, but it also includes tons of archives, newspapers: major newspapers, small town newspapers. So there's lots of ways you can search newspapers to find information. Because the fact that you have a photo means that somebody took that. 

Danielle  7:55  


Lisa  7:56  

And I think that it might be the case that something happened around that time, and that your grandfather's tailor shop provided that space, on Main Street, where there were no other Black businesses, for Black people to be and to demand. I think that's amazing. I cannot wait to hear what you-- tell me about it next week. So.

Danielle  8:20  

Okay, yeah.

Lisa  8:21  

I just slid in assignment real quick. And I'm like, okay, I'm gonna send you some more resources, and we gonna get to the bottom of this. And so you grew up with this kind of-- that someone was always-- something that was around. And that sewing was something that you could do to sustain your livelihood, you know, that this could be like a family business.

Danielle  8:43  


Lisa  8:43  

 So tell us about, like, what that was like. Like, did you buy- did you sew at an early age? Did you pick up the needle and thread at an early age as well?

Danielle  8:57  

So, I started sewing around nine. Just doing, like, little stitches. Just playing around. I got-- probably when I was 12-- I got a little sewing machine. And it was one of the ones that, like, there was no bobbin, so it was, like, this cute little pink machine. But you know, it's just got a top thread. So once you like, take your fabric off, and you pull the thread-- it'll just come right off. So I was like, No, I need a real sewing machine. I don't know what- it was like a kiddie toy. 

Lisa  9:33  

It was a toy. [Cross talk]

And it was it was a toy that was a prank. 

Danielle  9:39  


Lisa  9:40  

For you--to give you a sewing machine with no bobbin? Like? They did not- this was not meant to actually put two pieces of thing together. Like, "What is this machine? Wait, just the needle. What?"

Danielle  9:53  

Mhm. It was weird. I probably picked it cuz it was pink. And that sold me. [Laughter] But yeah--

Lisa  10:02  

It was cute! [Cross talk]

Danielle  10:07  

But I will say this. This is one thing that's funny. When I started, I had a real sewing machine. So my parents, I guess they thought it was just like, common knowledge. I didn't realize that sewing machines had a bobbin winder. So I would just sit there like this--

Lisa  10:25  

You did not. [Laughter]

Danielle  10:27  

I did, for like years. Years! 

Lisa  10:31  


Danielle  10:32  

[Laughter] I forgot to say, my first week of sewing, I-- my mom or dad came into the kitchen and saw me hand winding the bobbin. And they were like, "oh, no, no." 

Lisa  10:41  

Years? You were doing that for years?

Danielle  10:43  


Lisa  10:44  

And no one tells you? No one said--

Danielle  10:49  

They never caught that part.

Lisa  10:52  

So you would wind full bobbins for your projects by hand. Often.

Danielle  11:02  


Lisa  11:03  

How did they- How did you get the even tension in the bobbin? Like, did you know that you had to do that? Like, how did you do that?

Danielle  11:11  

I was just trying to be as consistent as possible. Like, just keep a rhythm. Yeah.

Lisa  11:19  

So you knew, even as a kid, that the bobbin had to, you know, just couldn't just throw it on it like it was a skein of yarn; it really had to be tight and consistent and not loopy. Like, you knew what a bobbin was meant to do. Even if you didn't know how the thread got on there. And we like-- I guess that actually makes sense. Like, how else would you know? Like, yeah. That's amazing.

Danielle  11:42  

I thought that other things--

Lisa  11:43  


Danielle  11:44  

I thought it was just a spool for thread, like. 

Lisa  11:48  

Just a little short one, like a little hamburger size. Just a little tiny baby size. 

Danielle  11:52  

Yeah, just a tiny little-

Lisa  11:55  

Snack size thread. 

Danielle  11:56  


Lisa  11:56  

"What's this little snack size thread for? You put it down in this little circle in the bottom. That's so weird. Okay, I'm gonna do that. I could do that." 

What were some of the early projects that you made? Do you remember some of your earliest sewing projects? 

Danielle  12:09  

[Sighs] So when I first started out, I wasn't-- I was like, kind of deconstructing things and like, rhinestones were a big part of stuff [Laughter]

Lisa  12:22  

Wow, love it.

Danielle  12:23  

I liked to make. Yeah, I liked to mix like denim and georgette for some reason. Like, lacy stuff with denim. 

Lisa  12:32  


Danielle  12:32  

I'll put that together a lot, with varying results. Yeah, I started making these little purses for, like, the girls at school, and it would be like patchwork: denim and bandana. 

Lisa  12:50  


Danielle  12:51  

So, like-- and they can pick their colors. Oh, pick whatever bandana you like, and then I'll make a little purse. And so. [Laughter]

Lisa  12:58  

That is so cute! I love that. I love that. And so fast forward all these years later, and you decide-- so I'm trying to figure out the gap between the deconstructing of the-- because I can definitely see how denim and georgette would be a really interesting combination, because they're so different, right? Like,--

Danielle  12:58  


Lisa  13:00  

you have something that's so structured and heavy and meant to be durable and work cloth. And then you have the georgette which is like light and airy, and meant to be like, you know, sewing a cloud, but it's a total pain in the ass. No one tells you that.

Danielle  13:30  


Lisa  13:30  

That it is slippy and... Nobody says, this fabric is really going to test your resolve. And, so, to put them together when-- I think denim is just-- denim's kind of like linen. It's really reliable. I mean, like, that's a fabric that you can trust--

Danielle  13:48  


Lisa  13:48  

--to do what it's supposed to do. Georgette will--

Danielle  13:52  


Lisa  13:53  

--like it's extra fine. It's like-- it will mess with your emotions and make you question who you are as a person. 

Danielle  13:59  


Lisa  14:00  

And that's why I don't fool with. And I'm like, "unh uh. I am not going to voluntarily-- "

Danielle  14:04  


Lisa  14:04  

[unintelligible] "I'm not gonna work my last good nerve. No, ma'am." So, I'm gonna leave the georgette part to you and I'll take on the denim. So-- but you did neither. Because georgette nor denim- you decided to turn--

Danielle  14:15  


Lisa  14:16  

--to African stretch fabric. What made you-- what drew you to the idea of African fabric, African prints, the things that we are typically calling "Ankara," because of the designs. 

Danielle  14:30  


Lisa  14:30  

Or sometimes "wax print" is another name that is used. What drew you to taking that, which is a very traditional, very old fabric, woven, and usually printed off in like six yard bundles at 44 to 42 inches wide. What made you say, "You know what? That's great, but I would like it to stretch?"

Danielle  14:56  

So, before I started African Stretch Fabrics, I had a clothing line, which was a swimwear line. So I did resort wear. 

Lisa  15:05  


Danielle  15:05  

And... I just like-- I love the colors, and the prints, and the vibrancy. Is that a word? 

Lisa  15:13  


Danielle  15:14  

Yeah. African [Laughter] fabrics. So I was like, "Oh, I really want to design a swimwear collection with African print." And I looked for years. And there was some like, tribal stuff, right, in the market; that's what they call it. And it's not the same. 

Lisa  15:38  


Danielle  15:39  

And, so I've finally-- finally I found-- this was probably, actually, let me tell you this little side story. So I wanted to design a dashiki swimsuit. 

Lisa  15:51  


Danielle  15:51  

And I was like, "Look, I'm not using that, I'm just not doing it." [Laughter] So I found these dresses on eBay or something. And they are just like-- they were made out of basically swimwear fabric, it was nylon spandex or polyester spandex, and I cut the dresses up to use them to make swimsuits. 

Lisa  16:15  


Danielle  16:16  

And that was probably my most popular collection. And, yeah. That's when I first started getting, like, knockoffs of my designs. So Amazon, Wish, Shein-- they were copying my dashiki swimsuits. 

Lisa  16:34  


Danielle  16:35  

Mass producing. Six dollars apiece. 

Lisa  16:38  

Oh my god. Oh, what a shame.

Danielle  16:42  


Lisa  16:43  

Theft, theft, theft. Theft. And I know, they say fashion is theft, and everyone steals in fashion. I don't believe it. And, well, I do believe it. I think lotsa people do steal. But it doesn't mean that it is an okay thing to do. Especially to a small Black business that has decided to figure out this thing, with very limited resources and says, "Oh, look at these African print dresses, or dashiki print dresses that I've seen on Ebay. I will take these because they are the right fabric. And I will use this as the fabric." And then the big guys come in. I mean, Amazon, Wish and Shein? I mean, doesn't Shein do like, like a hundred garments a week, or something? Like, they're always pushing out. Like--

Danielle  17:29  

Mhm. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. 

Lisa  17:31  

Wow. So that must have been-- well, tell me what that was like. I mean, I can't-- Tell me what that was like, to see the thing that--

Danielle  17:40  

Oh, I was mad.

Lisa  17:41  

--that you worked hard for, and that you kind of put your ingenuity behind to figure out how to make work. And then three big companies come in, and they're like, "Okay, that's cute." Steal, steal, steal.

Danielle  17:52  

Mm hmm. I was mad. Like I was big mad. Like I was-- at first I started to, like, flag and report the listings. So Amazon, they did take some down, because they were using my actual pictures. So, I model a lot of my own stuff. So they just grabbed the picture off Etsy. And you can see my face, and everything in the background, and everything. 

Lisa  18:23  


Danielle  18:23  

I'm just like--

Lisa  18:24  

Wow, wow, wow.

Danielle  18:25  

Yeah. And it was just-- people kept sending me like, Hey, this is your swimsuit on this random website. I'm like, ah, crap, another one. So I was upset and I flagged them and reported them as much as possible. And I was like, You know what? I'm not even gonna-

Lisa  18:49  


Danielle  18:50  

--I can't like... my... Right, because it'll be endless. And I had to take comfort in the fact that okay, they're not stealing-- they're stealing my design, but they're not necessarily stealing my customer. 'Cause the person who-- 

Lisa  19:05  


Danielle  19:05  

-- is buying the swimsuit [unintelligible] is not my people. So.

Lisa  19:12  


Danielle  19:13  

I'll tell you what really hurt. So one of my Facebook friends, she posted some swimsuits that she ordered from--

Lisa  19:23  


Danielle  19:23  

--well, some swimsuits that she bought online--

Lisa  19:26  

Oh my god.

Danielle  19:26  

-- for vacation. 

Lisa  19:28  

No, no.

Danielle  19:29  

I saw one of them. And I just messaged her, and I was like, "Where'd you get that yellow dashiki swimsuit?" And she's like, "Oh, Amazon." And I didn't even say anything.

Lisa  19:45  

Did she know that you were...? 

Danielle  19:47  

I didn't say anything.

Lisa  19:48  

Did she know that you were a designer? Did she know that you sewed? Did she know that you had a clothing line? Did she know any of these things?

Danielle  19:57  

Yeah, we did fashion shows together. 

Lisa  20:00  


Danielle  20:01  

So, she knew. Now maybe she didn't know that that specific design was mine, but she knew I was a swimwear designer. And she's like... 

Lisa  20:12  


Danielle  20:13  

It's not from--

Lisa  20:17  

That is heartbreaking. It is heartbreaking. And it is hard to remember that what is for you will not miss you. It is hard to--

Danielle  20:30  


Lisa  20:30  

It's true. It is very true, it remains true. But sometimes it doesn't feel that way. And this idea that you can have someone who has a friend, or a Facebook friend, or a colleague, someone y'all have shared stages with and done shows with and somebody who might know how difficult it is to get this kind of product going would just say, "Hunh. Let me find the cheapest, fastest way I can get it and I'm gonna buy the dupe instead of the real thing."

Danielle  21:02  


Lisa  21:02  

"And not support the Black woman I know." Wow. That is frustrating. That is-- that sounds really frustrating. That really sounds frustrating.

Danielle  21:16  

It was. For a while I was just like screaming to the rooftops: "They stole my stuff. I'm not even-- I haven't even made it yet." Right. I'm still in this, you know--

Lisa  21:28  


Danielle  21:28  

-- in the lower part of the [unintelligible], and like, for this to happen, I was just like, really? Like, but...

And that's--

I let it go. [Crosstalk]

Lisa  21:40  

You let it go, you put your head down and you kept doing work. And you just kept creating. And so, when you decided to bring in-- creating African Stretch Fabrics to make these available so that somebody else-- that other folks could also create, you made the creation easier-- 

Danielle  22:00  


Lisa  22:00  

--for yourself by just you know, connecting with and becoming a resource, becoming a supplier. And you also got a chance to help other people. What was that like, to kind of begin that process of figuring out how to do this? Like, how do you decide-- not only to have a business in selling fabric-- but selling a fabric that does not yet exist? That is impressive. 

Danielle  22:28  


Lisa  22:29  

How do you do that? Like--

Danielle  22:31  

So... Honestly, [Scoffs] I have no clue, right? So, luckily there was another business owner who is in that same space. And I had actually-- she was one of the people that I bought fabrics from when I could find some stretch African print. But, like the availability is very hard to get to.

Lisa  22:57  


Danielle  22:57  

It wasn't exactly, like, the quality that I needed. But even she was sweet enough to kind of tell me like, "Hey, it might be a little bit harder than you're expecting." XYZ. She gave me like a paragraph. And it kind of helped. So. But it just took some time, and a lot of Googling, and, like, samples and all these things. And honestly, I'm still learning. Like every single day, I'm learning new things.

Lisa  23:27  


Danielle  23:28  

So yeah. But I was like, ugh. You know, we're in all these fabric groups on Facebook and stuff. 

Lisa  23:33  


Danielle  23:34  

And people-- I kept seeing people ask for it. 

Lisa  23:37  


Danielle  23:37  

It's like, okay, so it's not just me. But... 

Lisa  23:40  

No, no, no.

And I wanted to ask you about this industry, because it feels very new. And you mentioned the fabric groups on Facebook. For those of you at home listening who might not know-- and you can go back to some early episodes; I have an early episode with Queenora Ervin, who does Queenora Renne Fabrics. And she does custom fabrics. And so, when I interviewed her she-- I explained-- she was explaining to me, and I was explaining to the audience about how custom fabric works. And so, one way you can find custom fabrics tends to-- you have to go to who is making it. It's very difficult to find custom--

Danielle  24:21  


Lisa  24:21  

-- you're not gonna find it, you will never find it at a store. Like, never. You have to be in those groups. You have to at least join the Facebook groups. You agree to their rules, you agree to their terms, and then you open the door and there's this whole ridiculous Wizard of Oz wonderland of so many different people offering different types of custom fabric. And the names of the groups, you know, all kinds of different names. But the ones I've always, obviously-- the ones that I tend to be drawn to are the ones that are operated by Black women or Black people. They're mostly-- women operate all of these groups, I think. I don't think I know of a fabric group--

Danielle  24:21  


Lisa  24:21  

-- you might. You might know of a fabric group that's operated by a man, 

Danielle  24:30  


Lisa  24:32  

that-- no seriously, this is just an observation. 

Danielle  24:34  

Yeah, I don't.

Lisa  24:35  

So it's like something that women have done--

Danielle  24:41  


Lisa  24:50  

Women who sew, women who craft, women who want certain things that aren't available. And so the custom fabric industry rose out of necessity, I think. Do you consider that a necessity? 

Danielle  25:22  


Lisa  25:23  

Or is it something else? What do you think? 

Danielle  25:27  

I mean...

Lisa  25:28  

For you it was surely [crosstalk]

I heard somebody say...

Danielle  25:32  

Yeah, like, I wanted to run a business that I wanted, right? So if I want to design swimsuits that are African print, like, I've got to. Like, it was a necessity for me as a brand. 

Lisa  25:46  


Danielle  25:47  

And I've heard people say, like, "If you want it, you need it."

Lisa  25:51  


Danielle  25:53  

And I was like, wait, what? Like, if it's something that you really desire, like in your heart of hearts, and you want it? It's a need? So.

Lisa  26:03  

Yeah. I can get behind that, certainly. Certainly. 

Danielle  26:07  

Mhm. [Laughter]

Lisa  26:07  

As you can tell from all this stuff, I clearly need it-- behind me, in this image. Everything you see behind me is something I needed. And if you're not on the Patreon, boy, are you missing out on all the things that are behind me right now. But I think it's true, it's a gap. It's not- and you mentioned it as being something that your brand needed, and that is absolutely true. In addition, even for folks who don't have a brand, it is-- there are folks-- 

Danielle  26:37  


Lisa  26:37  

-- who want to have representation. They want to be able to wear things that reflect them. And if you like to sew with knits like I do, you can't- knits do not work in the same way as wovens. You cannot make a swimsuit out of a cotton woven fabric. That's just not a thing you would want to do. And so you either say, "I will never have an Ankara print swimsuit," or you do as you did, and you find where that fabric is, whether it is on a dress that might already exist and you have to buy some of those to deconstruct, or you ask the difficult questions, and you get some support along the way. And you figure out how to create this. 

Now, when you started your business, I think you launched with a--

Danielle  26:52  


Lisa  27:28  

Kickstarter. Can you talk about the Kickstarter process

Danielle  27:32  


Lisa  27:32  

 and how that worked?

Danielle  27:35  

Yes. So, I started first kind of dabbling, and thinking about African Stretch Fabrics in, like, 2018. So I did, you know, a couple of prints here and there. But I really relaunched in 2020. And I was familiar with Kickstarter, just because I have friends that have done well on it. 

Lisa  27:58  


Danielle  27:58  

And it's basically a crowd funding platform. So, if you have an idea, you want to create something new, people can make a pledge towards your cause or your project. And then, in return, you give them something, a reward. So my project was, "Hey, I want to bring some African stretch fabrics to the world because XYZ," and I told them my story. And the rewards are just the fabric, [Laughter] because that's what people wanted. 

Lisa  28:30  

That's right.

Danielle  28:31  

And I think my goal was... It was pretty low. It was like 2,700 or something. 

Lisa  28:42  


Danielle  28:42  

And I did six thousand something. So I almost tripled it. 

Lisa  28:47  


Danielle  28:47  

So... It was really good. It did help that I already had a small community. Because I had started, you know, dabbling, a couple years prior. 

Lisa  29:00  


Danielle  29:00  

So I had a small email list, I had Facebook- actually, I don't know if I had my Facebook group quite yet at time. 

Lisa  29:08  

Okay, okay

Danielle  29:08  

But you know, I did [unintelligible] a community. So that helped a lot. I think, if you have an idea, in fashion or fabric, anything like that, I think Kickstarter is a good way to go. 'Specially if you don't have the startup capital. You got to know it's something that people want. Even if it's just like a small group of people, your friends and family. But most of my supporters for my Kickstarter campaign, they-- I had a couple of people that I knew, but for the most part, it was strangers, you know? [Crosstalk] People that wanted to have some, right. So, and luckily-- we talked about Facebook groups. There's all these different sewing groups and I had people that were like singing my praises like, hey, go get this, like, can you believe there's gonna be stretched African fabrics?  

Lisa  30:05  


Danielle  30:05  

So I had support from other Facebooks that weren't mine. So it was pretty good. It is a process because you got to get approved, and you've got to have a good video, and you have to explain things in a way that make people trust you, and trust that you can get, you know, the project done. So, yeah.

Lisa  30:26  

Yes. Yes. I love that. I think that is such a-- it's a great reminder that we don't have to do it alone, especially for your work, because the garments and things that that are possible through African Stretch Fabrics, I think are just incredibly unique. And even now, although you've been in business for these three years, you know, full time, you know, kind of focusing on the African stretch, it's still not easy to find a fabric that will do what this lovely dress is doing. And if you are a Patreon supporter, you are looking right now at a beautiful, high necked, sleeveless, like more like a raglan cut, swing dress that Diane-- I'm trying to call you "Diane." Danielle. That Danielle is-- I don't know why-- that Danielle is modeling with such beauty. Can you talk about this piece? And you know, it's funny. I have this one. I have this exact one. 

Danielle  31:30  

Oh yeah!

Lisa  31:31  

Yup. I have that exact one and I made-- I just-- I think I bought at one of your last sales a scrap bag or it was like a bunch of strip. 

Danielle  31:33  

Oh, yeah. 

Lisa  31:34  

And so I used it to make boxer briefs for my spouse. 

Danielle  31:42  


Lisa  31:43  

So yeah, I love this. It's a pattern called the "Men's Gable Brief" by Made for Mermaids. And it's a fit. I did a sew-along with Julian on TikTok. Julian Collins from BERNINA and Julian Creates. He and I did a sew-along on TikTok for the Black Sewing Network last month. 

Danielle  32:09  


Lisa  32:09  

And that was-- this was the fabric that I was using for mine. So it was really a fun project. So. But this is lovely. Talk about this dress. And what is this fabric base?

Danielle  32:24  

So actually, this is the thing. So that fabric is actually a traditional--

Lisa  32:30  

[Gasps] Regular?

Danielle  32:31  

-- cotton.

Lisa  32:31  

Really! [Crosstalk] It looks amazing. 

Danielle  32:36  


Lisa  32:38  

It's so drappy and bouncy [crosstalk] It's amazing!

Danielle  32:45  

So when I found this dress-- like, I am in love with this dress. And it has pockets, of course. 

Lisa  32:51  

Of course.

Danielle  32:53  

And I was like, "Oh my God, I need this to be one of my stretch fabrics. Like, I need stretch fabric in this."

Lisa  33:00  


Danielle  33:00  

So then, you know, I kind of reached out to try to find the owner, like, who designed this and I could not find them anywhere. So fingers crossed I don't get sued or anything. [Laughter] But like... I was like, "Okay, I can't find the original creator." Like I have no, like, I don't know. So I recreated it in a stretch fabric. And I-- one thing that I didn't have in my collection of African Stretch Fabrics was a border print. And that's what this is. 

Lisa  33:31  

Ohhhh. I see it.

Danielle  33:31  

So on the bottom right side, you can see a little--it's a lighter piece that's like some yellow and whites here--

Lisa  33:40  

[Gasps] Oh, yeah! Oh I see it. Yeah. 

Danielle  33:42  

[Unintelligible] So,--

Lisa  33:46  

Right there. Oh, yeah, that's really cool!

Danielle  33:47  

So I was like.  Yep. 

Lisa  33:51  

I love it. 

Danielle  33:52  

So, yeah, I like-- no, go ahead.

Lisa  33:55  

No, I'm listening. Go ahead.

Danielle  33:58  

I don't even know what I was about to say. 

Lisa  34:01  

I was just gonna say, I love the way that you use-- when you use the full width of the fabric. So, you when you put-- when you print your, your fabrics, do you print-- what is the width between-- what is the width for the fabrics?

Danielle  34:15  

So they're 60 inches.

Lisa  34:17  

Okay? Yeah, yeah. 

Danielle  34:20  

Yep. This is another fun [Crosstalk] because I wanna get-- 

Lisa  34:24  

Mm hmm. 

Danielle  34:26  

That's actually one of my favorite prints.

Lisa  34:29  

Is it really? 

Danielle  34:30  

Because I just love-- 

Lisa  34:31  

Yeah. I think have that one. [Crosstalk] What did you say you liked about it?

Danielle  34:40  

I just like all the colors. So the hot pink--

Lisa  34:43  


Danielle  34:43  

And that, like, turquoise blue are my two favorite colors in the world. 

Lisa  34:47  


Danielle  34:47  

So I think that's why I like it so much.

Lisa  34:50  

And they go very well together. They go very well together. It's really, really nice. I think that's so great. And this was another one that I really liked. This one. With the peplum. 

Danielle  35:02  


Lisa  35:03  

That's another really great top.

Danielle  35:07  

So I love a peplum. And I know they go in and out of style, but I don't care. [Laughter] [Crosstalk] I'm always going to [unintelligible].

Lisa  35:16  

Agreed. Ah-greed. There's something about it that I find so, like, fun and flirty, and, you know, all these like fun, fun, flirty, feminine, et cetera, kind of things. But it can also dress up-- you can wear it with jeans. You can wear it with a --

Danielle  35:33  


Lisa  35:33  

-- straight black skirt, and it becomes more formal. You can throw a jacket on and then it's like, some more MORE levels to the cuteness. So I think that's right. That's just so fantastic. So previously, you had offered-- so now you have a new base. And for those who are-- bases, when we're talking about base, B A S E, we're talking about the fabric on which it is printed. And typically, wax print fabrics are printed on woven fabrics. And what Danielle has created are African prints printed on 60 inch wide fabrics that have lots of stretch in order to be used for swimwear, leggings, undergarments, bras, tank tops, dresses, all the different things. What was the first set of bases you offered? So you've got the Kickstarter, you're getting, you know, the funds are coming in, you're ready to place your order. What-- how do you decide what, what bases to use for the first the first round?

Danielle  36:39  

So for the first round, pretty much from the beginning to now, the only base I've had is what I call our "performance nylon." 

Lisa  36:48  


Danielle  36:49  

And I chose that because I felt like it would be the most versatile. So you can use it for swimwear and active wear. But you can also make tops out of it, and leggings, and all types of things. But, just over the years, people have been asking for cotton spandex. Just like you said- like, after the swimsuit fabrics, cotton spandex is my favorite.

Lisa  37:13  


Danielle  37:13  

So I completely understand. And it is performance nylon; it has things that you don't necessarily need in everyday clothing. 

Lisa  37:23  


Danielle  37:24  

So it's heavier. It's, you know, moisture-wicking, things like that. But cotton spandex is more breathable.

Lisa  37:32  


Danielle  37:34  

It's natural, right. 

Lisa  37:36  


Danielle  37:36  

So a lot of people prefer that. So... That's why I'm like, "Okay, guys, I'm finally gonna do it." [Laughter] I've run into some hurdles, which is why it's taken so long. 

Lisa  37:52  


Danielle  37:52  

But you know, it's here.

Lisa  37:55  

Listen, it is worth the wait. We have not had it forever. So any time it takes you, it's sooner than we would have had it. I think that that's something--

Danielle  38:14  


Lisa  38:11  

--I would invite you to-- no, seriously. It's something I would invite you to remind yourself of. You are not on anybody else's timeline. You are on Danielle Pierce's timeline. And so, when you say, "Oh no, I feel like I'm behind and people have been-- you know, things have taken so long." Where's the hurry? Because whenever it comes, it will be happily received and enjoyed. And I'm pretty sure, you seem like the type of person who would rather have it right than have it fast. 

Danielle  38:16  


Lisa  38:17  

Which I as a customer, I appreciate. I appreciate. I do not mind waiting. And that's the thing that, you know, for those of us who do buy custom knit fabrics, it's always a wait, like, unless there's a retail round and that has already happened, you're going to pay your money, it's going to take a minimum-- I don't know anyone who has faster than six weeks. I don't know anyone-- I've never gotten it in six weeks. It's always been close to between eight and 12. So, you're gonna-- shoot, girl, sometimes I be buyin' shit and it show up to the house and I'm like, "For me? My name is on this! This's for me. Let me open to see what's in- [Gasps] Oh, yayyyy!" I'm telling you, I be for real, legit, surprised, and grateful to past Lisa for the choices she made for me in today. So, that is how long it takes for the fabric to come. 

But I am very eager for the cotton lycra for the reasons you described. Like, that's like my favorite fabric. I have a friend who loves denim and linen. I have a friend who loves ponte- that's her jam. I have a friend who-- double-brushed poly is their love language. And for me, it is cotton lycra. There is something about that snap, that recovery, that I appreciate. And the way that it like, helps-- I don't wanna say helps-- but the way that it supports my body, my lifestyle, the things I want to do. The fact that I can make a little, you know, wiggle dress out of it, or fast tailed girl dress out of it, or some leggings, or whatever, and then--

Danielle  40:28  


Lisa  40:28  

-- have stuff left over for a sports bra or a pair of, you know, boxers for the boys or a pair a undies myself or whatever. Like, it's-- that is one of the most versatile fabrics, I think. So I'm really excited--

Danielle  40:40  


Lisa  40:40  

-- for this. And so tell us about the offering. Tell us about when we should sign up, how can we sign up? What are the prices? How can we, like, how can we participate in this wonderful thing that's happening?

Danielle  40:57  

Okay. So the pre-sale actually started today. It started this morning.

Lisa  41:03  

Okay. And this morning-- so the pre-sale started, everybody, on May 9th, and this episode is--

Danielle  41:09  


Lisa  41:10  

-- going to drop on May 17th. So today is May 17th. A week ago this dropped. Don't you wish you time traveled so that you could go back in time? But you don't have to because, guess what? It's still open. So, it started--

Danielle  41:10  


Lisa  41:12  

--on May 9, and it goes until, when-

Danielle  41:29  

May 23rd. 

Lisa  41:31  

May 23rd--

Danielle  41:33  

May 23rd.

Lisa  41:34  

--y'all, is this coming... Let's see. The 23rd... Look at me I'm trying not to panic. So we have like six-- we have 10 days. 10 days? 13 days. How many days? 

Danielle  41:48  

Yeah- wait. So yeah, so--

Lisa  41:50  

Today's the 17th.

Danielle  41:51  

So yes, six days. 

Lisa  41:53  

Six days? We only six days, y'all. Hurry. I don't wanna-- I know--

Danielle  41:59  


Lisa  41:59  

-- I know white supremacist capitalism gives this false sense of scarcity. And also? This is time sensitive. So, this is a time sensitive thing. You want-- if you want this fabric, you have six days to go in and make your choices. And so, what can people choose from? How many different prints did you decide to do? Are you planning for a retail round? What are you thinking?

Danielle  42:27  

So, it's going to be my five most popular prints.

Lisa  42:33  


Danielle  42:33  


Lisa  42:35  


Danielle  42:36  

So my-- it's only five prints. But they're the ones that people love. So, of course, my black and white mudcloth is in there. 

Lisa  42:44  


Danielle  42:45  

I have a pink kente that is super pretty. And it's like a modern kente--

Lisa  42:50  


Danielle  42:50  

-- it's beautiful. It's in there. So it's-- you're gonna like something in there. [Laughter]

Lisa  42:56  


Danielle  42:57  

You're going to. So yeah, it's those five prints. And... so we've got the sale for six days left from today. And you can just get it on my website, which is slash preorder.

Lisa  43:15  

Love it. Love it. And when do you expect the fabrics to arrive? So, the preorder closes this coming, I think it's Sunday, I believe?

Danielle  43:22  


Lisa  43:22  

And the 23rd, this coming. So the preorder closes. 

Danielle  43:25  

23rd is a Tuesday.

Lisa  43:26  

Oh, my bad. Listen, y'all follow your own heart.

Danielle  43:29  

Yeah, it's Tuesday. 

Lisa  43:29  

Okay, govern yourselves accordingly, as they say in my church, govern yourselves accordingly. I do my best to give factual information. But my actual calendar is way far-- farther away than I can see it from this chair and this microphone. So I really don't know what the dates are. [Laughter] But it is-- there are--

Danielle  43:48  

Okay [Laughter]

Lisa  43:48  

Oh that's right, because the episode comes out on Wednesday, six days away will be almost a whole week. So, before the next episode, I will want to have my fabric, because today is Wednesday. And in six days, it'll be Tuesday. And that'll be the absolute last day to get your fabric pre-ordered. If you wait until a week from today, and the next episode of the podcast comes out, you have missed your window. Do not miss your window. And--

Danielle  44:19  

And I am hoping-- oh, I was just gonna say, I am hoping to have some left for retail. But I'm doing something new this time. 

Lisa  44:30  


Danielle  44:30  

And this is actually a capsule collection.

Lisa  44:33  

A capsule collection.

Danielle  44:36  

Mm hmm. So, usually what I've been doing is, when I-- once I have a print, that print just stays. 

Lisa  44:42  


Danielle  44:43  

Right. So if I create something new, it just stays, and it just builds up the amount of prints that I offer. However, one thing that I know my customers have been asking for is more prints. So I'm like, okay. I want to be able to bring newness. But how can I put this? There are some prints that are not popular. They're just not. 

Lisa  45:11  


Danielle  45:11  

And I'm just like, I don't want to have a print just for the sake of having a print. 

Lisa  45:16  


Danielle  45:16  

So, I'm going-- I'm thinking about doing a-- the concept of capsule collections.

Lisa  45:22  


Danielle  45:23  

So if this collection comes out for summer 2023,--

Lisa  45:23  


Danielle  45:25  

-- it may not be, ya know, forever. 

Lisa  45:32  


Danielle  45:32  

So this is the first time I'm testing it out. Yes. So the cotton spandex- as much as I would love it to be a permanent product line- it's not. Not just yet.

Lisa  45:43  


This is like a diagnostic in some ways. Is this kind of like a diagnostic trial run?

Danielle  45:49  


Lisa  45:49  

And if the cotton lycra goes well, the cotton spandex moves well, then perhaps you'd be willing to, you know, to bring it back on a more regular basis.

Danielle  46:00  

Yes. And honestly, I'm thinking that it will be. I think its popularity will be more than even my current base. 

Lisa  46:09  


Danielle  46:10  

So, yeah, I think so. [Crosstalk] Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa  46:20  

It-- you said that leads you to where?

Danielle  46:21  

[Sighs] Well, there's another project that I'm working on. 

Lisa  46:28  

Of course! 

Danielle  46:30  

That can just-- is gonna shake up this whole thing. 

Lisa  46:35  

Oh my gosh.

Danielle  46:38  

So the name of my business is African Stretch Fabrics. Yeah. I am very transparent with my people-- with anybody that asks me something, I'm gonna to tell you the truth. 

Lisa  46:49  


Danielle  46:50  

My fabric is not made in Africa. 

Lisa  46:52  


Danielle  46:53  

But that is the goal.

Lisa  46:55  

Oh, I love it.

Danielle  46:56  

So. Mm hmm. So I'm trying to, in the next year, shift all of my production there. So it's just making the connections, getting everything set up so that the next cotton collection can be from the motherland.

Lisa  47:13  

Gosh. Wow.  I love that. Oh, my gosh, that is exciting. And then, that's like reinvesting back, you know, all of those resources being invested for manufacture back into the continent. That's really, that's fantastic. I'm really excited for that. That's a great development. Good for you. I really appreciate that you considering the supply chain, as something that every point could be improved or could be made, to be more Black, you know, like, I just want to-- you said you just want to kind of keep that--

Danielle  47:51  


Lisa  47:51  

-- going. I love that. That's wonderful. 

Danielle, I can't believe it. We're at the end of our time. And now I get to ask you the question that I ask everybody when I closed the Stitch Please podcast episode. The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. Danielle Pierce, proprietor of African Stretch Fabric. What advice do you have for our listeners to help us get our stitch together?

Danielle  48:21  

Just do you. That's all I can say. Because I need to get my stitch together. And yeah, just don't feel like you have to conform to anything, or stick to a certain style. Do whatever makes you feel good. 

Lisa  48:39  

I love it. And look good. And on that note, I thank you, Danielle, for bringing us this African Stretch Fabric so that we can look good and feel good doing it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Danielle  48:53  

Thank you.

Lisa  49:03  

You've been listening to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that center Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community with giving levels beginning at five dollars a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support, and come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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