Black Girls Sew: The Book! a chat with Hekima Hapa and Leslie Ware

Black Girls Sew Projects by Hekima Hapa and Lesley Ware available here

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Hekima Hapa

Hekima Hapa is the founder of the nonprofit, community organization Black Girls Sew in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Not only is Hapa the founder, but she is a fashion designer and a business owner of Harriet’s by Hekima (HbyH), a Harriet’s Alter Ego company. Hapa is investing her over two decades of experience in fashion styling, fashion merchandising, sewing, and designing to teach courses for Black Girls Sew to leave the youth excited about education in sewing, design, and entrepreneurship. She has also co-authored the book Black Girls Sew with Lesley Ware. 

Lesley Ware

Lesley Ware is an author, educator, entrepreneur, and personality who has written five books: Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas, My Fab Fashion Style File, How to Be a Fashion Designer, 101 Ways to Love Your Style and Black Girls Sew.

Lesley’s passion for inspiring youth began when she earned her degrees in Elementary Education and Public Administration and continued when she orchestrated national programs for institutions like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Girl Scouts of the USA.

She has created fashion education programs for the Parsons School of Design, Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Costume Institute, Pioneer Works, Museum of the City of New York, New Visions, New York Times Student Journeys, and other institutions.

Insights from this episode:

  • Insights into what led Lesley and Hekima to write their book
  • How they chose the fashion icons to interview in their book
  • How denim is connected to black ancestry
  • Insights on how they bring in fashion and black cultural knowledge 
  • Lessons Hekima and Lesley learned while writing their book during the pandemic
  • The lessons they hope people will learn from reading their book

Quotes from the show:

  • “I talk to people all the time about how easy it is to upcycle denim and how easily and readily available it is, but it is not something easy to produce” -Hekima Hapa in “Stitch Please”
  • “It is really important that we think about it [denim] historically: it being connected to cotton, and how our ancestors being here” -Hekima Hapa in “Stitch Please”
  • “Every time that I get an opportunity to do anything, especially working on books, in my head I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to do this again, so I give it everything that I possibly can” -Lesley Ware in “Stitch Please”
  • “The logistics of writing a book in the pandemic present challenges and opportunities” -Lesley Ware in “Stitch Please”
  • “I think the book itself is like a love letter to Black girls, and that's something that I really love about it” -Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “To get your stitch together, you’ve got to write it down” -Lesley Ware in “Stitch Please”
  • “Just keep trying even when it seems impossible, it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen: whether it’s stitching and you are making a garment, or it’s really like stitching in life” -Hekima Hapa in “Stitch Please”

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Hekima Hapa

Instagram: Hekima Hapa 

Twitter: Hekima Hapa 

Facebook: Hekima Hapa

Lesley Ware

LinkedIn: Lesley Ware 

Instagram: Lesley Ware 

Twitter: Lesley Ware 

This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

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Hosted by Robert Payne