The Corny Rainbow, Nefertiti Griggs

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Episode Summary

In this episode, we are joined by Nefertiti Griggs, Owner of The Corny Rainbow, LLC. Her mother was the first person to introduce her to sewing and brought her first sewing machine. By high school, she has already made a few items of her own. Nefertiti currently sews at least 1-2 projects a week. She loves the creative process and teaching herself new things. Nefertiti talks about the story behind her brand, The Corny Rainbow. She shares her philosophy around colors, her first experience sewing dresses, and the adventures with a sewing machine. She also shares some insights on her collaboration with the sewing community, Spoonflower, and Bernina. Tune in to this exciting chat!

Episode Notes

Follow Nefertiti Griggs on  socials!
@thecornyrainbow and @nefertitihaidera (photography page) on IG

Meaningful sewing events:  Find out more about these on her website!

Pretty Girls Sew Rippin Aint Easy challenge

Rare Oscar De La Renta vintage Vogue pattern (met President Obama and Michelle)

Beyonce 2016 Grammy bridal gown

Her 2019 vow renewal gown

Black Magic Collab with Spoonflower and J.Clapp

Articles:

Featured on the cover of  Sewn magazine’s 2021 October issue

10 Black Sewists you should follow- Spoonflower

Creating Black Magic – Spoonflower

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork 0:09

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. Hello everybody and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I am your host Lisa Woolfork, and I know I say this every episode, but this is a very special episode, because I am talking today with Miss Humble herself. That's right, the Corny Rainbow, also known as Nefertiti Griggs. We are so delighted to have you today. You might know her from her colorful, beautiful philosophy. It's a style, but it's also a philosophy. It's a movement. It's not just one thing. It is a beautiful constellation of color and light and fun and sharpness and just all around badasserie. I don't know what else to say. So anyone who's seen her page knows this is true. So welcome Nefertiti. Welcome, Nef, thank you so much for being with us today.

Nefertiti Griggs 1:30

Hey, Lisa, thank you so much. That's like the best introduction I've ever had, anybody describe me like that, so thank you so much, honey, for that.

Lisa Woolfork 1:40

You are amazing and we are glad you are here. So I first met you in 2020. It was at DC Frocktails, which took place in Hyattsville, Maryland. Naomi C Johnson was an organizer for that event. And your outfit was fantastic. It was absolutely. So, you all, if you have not gone to a Frocktails, I totally recommend it. It's a really fun event, and the Frocktails was fantastic. It was such a really good time, and I'm so looking forward to another opportunity to Frocktails again. But I wanted to get started with you and your style and you getting started with sewing. How did the Corny Rainbow come about? What is the sewing story for the Corny Rainbow?

Nefertiti Griggs 2:30

Oh, from the beginning like the very beginning?

Lisa Woolfork 2:36

Take it way back.

Nefertiti Griggs 2:37

Let me just thank you first. I had so much fun when we were at DC Frocktails. It was, that was just before the Panini like got.

Lisa Woolfork 2:48

It sure did!

Nefertiti Griggs 2:48

Yeah, that was the last outing that we had for years. Yes. So I was so glad that I got to meet everybody but especially you. And I will never forget those very dramatic earrings that you had on, and I was like "Who is this carrying five pounds on her ears right now?" And I was just so amazed by all the Ankara and you, I had never met you obviously. That was our first time meeting, but I just loved your energy in it. I saw we all have some Corny Rainbow in us. Okay color, brightness. And I saw that in you, and I was like, "yeah, we're gonna be people," and you had to find your tribe. But DC Frocktails was really really, really nice. I love that. A little backstory about how the Corny Rainbow came about so I've been sewing since I was a kid with my mom, I want to say maybe seven or eight. She let me cut out the patterns and do the very tedious things, and I tell the story so often. I've been telling the story for a while, but spaghetti straps, we all know they are no fun to turn out if you don't have that tool. And my mom used to make my sisters and I do stuff like that. So I

Lisa Woolfork 4:02

With no would tube turner, (crosstalk) no fast turn, now straw, not even a boba straw.

None of that.

I want you girls to sit in the corner with a safety pin. And do your best.

Nefertiti Griggs 4:15

A safety pin, honey, a safety pin. She would have us do stuff like that, and I won't say that I didn't like sewing back then, but it was more to help my mom to help make ends meet growing up, because she did a lot of like football- the girls who dance in the drill team- she would do their outfits and costumes and things like that, and they were all very elaborate. I got to see early on like sequins. I think that was my first time really knowing what sequin is, and I fell in love with it. Obviously I have sequin all over this room.

Lisa Woolfork 4:53

Yes, yes you fear no glitter.

Nefertiti Griggs 4:55

No. (laughs) I'm not scared to sew it or anything like that. Yeah, we got to see a lot of dramatic things growing up and then also upholstery. My mom does reupholstery and curtains, so I learned that as well. So I don't really discuss that on my social media, but your girl can rip a sofa and put it together from scratch.

Lisa Woolfork 5:20

I'm pretty excited for the next line of humble furnishings. I like to put my order in right now for an ottoman and I thank you. I love it.

Nefertiti Griggs 5:29

(laugh) You so silly. I got you. I got you. That was the start. She would let me sew here and there. And then when I, in high school, I sewed. I went to Home Ec. I fell in love with it again, started making my prom dresses every year, then my mom would also help me out a little bit. I kind of put it aside. I didn't really- you get old 18, 19 you like “I'm about the live my life.”

Lisa Woolfork 5:55

Exactly.

Nefertiti Griggs 5:56

You not gonna find me sitting at a saw machine. Back then it wasn't that cool. It's cool to sew now. I stopped, and then we moved away. My husband and I got married in 2009. We moved to Virginia in 2011. So I was not sewing at all, and my mom got the funny idea to just send me a Brother sewing machine for Christmas. And she said, "Out of all my kids, I think you would pick it back up and be just fine." And I was like "Okay, Mommy." So she sent it to me for Christmas. It was 2012 and I started with a blazer. That was the first thing that I made after not sewing for 15 years.

Lisa Woolfork 6:41

I love how you picked a really easy project. (crosstalk) pockets, rolled color, you know, set in sleeves, lining,...- no big deal.

Nefertiti Griggs 6:51

You got to set the bar. I don't know how most people go into new things that they're trying out. But I feel like if I can't do one of the most difficult things, I don't want to keep going with this task. I need something challenging. I said "I'm gonna challenge myself to make.” It was a pattern blazer obviously. And it didn't have any welt pockets. It was just the pockets that you sew on the outside, no flaps or anything like that. And I did some color blocking with it. And I used a tweed fabric at the time. I didn't know I needed a serger. And it was just fraying away. (laugh) Show you that blazer and you probably be like, "Wow." It's okay. But it's not bad. And it was wearable. Eventually I ended up serging the seam allowance so that it wouldn't fray on me. But yeah, so that blazer up and I said, "okay, I think I'm going to keep sewing." I haven't stopped ever since then. It's been something that has been very therapeutic for me. That just sewing, it helps us to kind of get out of whatever funk that we're in. It's just being able to create something. I stuck with it. And it made me, being in Virginia, not having my family here with me- my husband and I are here alone at the time- we had both of our dogs with us. That was all that we had. We didn't have any friends or family that we could kind of just go down the street and visit, and I'm actually very close to my family. So, to be so far for both of us. It was like, I have to do something. And it helped to take that stress away. But it also reminded me of what it was like sewing with my mom growing up. So it's kind of like I was bringing that inner child out that I love so much, but I kind of hated it back then. So it was like my connection with my mom.

Lisa Woolfork 8:36

I love that so much. I love that she also was able to identify some spark in you that she was right. Right? Of all the ones that maybe- I don't know if your other siblings that she sent everybody machine and told everybody the same thing and you just wanted it landed on- but it sounded like she just thought you were the one, and it turns out that she was correct about that because I agree with you that I find sewing to be very therapeutic. I've seen people say sewing is my therapy. No, ma'am. Therapy is my therapy. But sewing is therapeutic. And I just love the way it allows me to sometimes get out of my own head. It forces me to do something different like, "Lisa, you can't worry about this thing, if you are trying to cut yourself a nice pair drawls." Like I can either stress about this thing, or I can make sure I'm not messing up this pattern, and I'm going to end up ruining my good fabric and (crosstalk)

Nefertiti Griggs 9:40

We don't want to mess up the good fabric, honey.

Lisa Woolfork 9:43

I do not want to mess up my good fabric because I'm distracted. So I'm going to focus on this one thing for right this second. I was thinking about the boldness of your colors and the way that you are committed, it seems to me, to cheer cheerfulness, smile. And like whenever I flip through your pages, it's something you're wearing. It's just like, it kind of puts me in an instant good mood. And so it just feels like the way that you use color is really strategic. And I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your philosophy behind that. If you have one, if you thought about it at all, what does color give you? If someone said you could only create in gray, or white and beige, or something like that? What would that mean for your...(laughs) See y'all, this is why you gotta have the Patreon subscription, because the look on her face when I said you can only create and white and beige. She was like, "what!"

Nefertiti Griggs 10:38

I'm about to pass out over here. No, ma'am, we can't do that.

Lisa Woolfork 10:43

Where'd my oxygen go!?

Oh, my goodness. No, Lisa. Okay, color, whether people want to realize it or not, it does bring out different energies within us. And for me, I am not a pro on chakras. But you can tap into different, like your throat chakra, your... all these different chakras.

The root chakra and all the different things. Yeah.

Right. I went through a program. And I know people have heard of it with Queen Afua. And I completed her Sacred Women. I've completed that. I got my certificate. And in that training, you wear certain colors for each chapter. And each, you know, throat, all of that root chakra thing, so I noticed how I felt when I was wearing those colors. But then I also started thinking about how I felt when I was wearing colors like black and gray. And I think that we as people need to be more in tune with that because it is going to determine how you're going to be for that day. For me, at least it does. And I know a lot of people that are like neutrals all day, which is fine. That's their thing. But for me and my mental space being determined off of how I look and feel, the colors that I wear are important for me as well. We did that challenge within that certification, and I really enjoyed how I was tapping into my colors, and I stuck with it. I was in a very depressed state before that. And even just moving to Virginia. And it was really hard for me to wear bright colorful clothes, not because I didn't have them, but because I wasn't in a space. I wanted to just wear a black. I was very depressed. So I think when you come from a place of depression, you can appreciate the brightness and the cheerfulness more. So it's just really been something that I've stuck with because I know how I feel. You see I got all my colors in my braids. It helps me to feel a little bit better when I'm feeling low. It don't cure everything, but at least I can say, "Oh, this yellow is really bringing out something in my energy right now, or this blue." And that's really important to me.

What I value about what you're saying so much is that part of it feels to me like a larger philosophy of DIY, right? Like when we sit down to the sewing machine, when we choose a pattern, when we look at fabric, all of this is part of something we're trying to build. Right? We're all trying to build it, and we want it to reflect where we are. It might not be for a particular costume, but it could be for an occasion. It could be for an event. Shit, it could be for Wednesdays, but so much of our lives are things that there's a lot of things out of our control in our lives, but there are also a lot of things that are in our control. And for most adults, what we wear is something that's in our control. And so the ability to choose a color for what we want to wear based on our mood, our needs, our desired goals, all of that just feels like such a beautiful example of self-making, of world-building. And that's something that I appreciate so much about the Corny Rainbow as an illustration of what it means to build a beautiful world. And also building it, that everyone has that potential. All of us are living lives that we have, that we're trying to build- at least through the living of them we are trying to build something. We're trying to sustain ourselves. We're trying to support our relationships. We're trying to contribute ideally to community and family. We are all doing that, but what I love about being able to sew and to create is that we can make that as specific as we want to.

Nefertiti Griggs 14:55

I know that's right. I know that's right. Can't nobody tell me "I can't do this, or I can't do that." This is my time to really go crazy with my craft, and that is what I really just love- that nobody can say," Oh, that's not good, or "You shouldn't put those two together," or "That fabric doesn't always go with that kind of pattern," or "You gotta use the grain line." Everybody has their own little, like line that they teeter totter over with the sewing. I like to just go with it. Let's do some more unconventional type stuff.

I agree. And I mean, cuz I think about the unconventional, and so who created the convention?

(laughs) Who created the convention?

Lisa Woolfork 15:38

It's true. Who did? I mean, really? Who created the conventions? Like, I have not been able to do it. People are like, "Oh, well, this collar doesn't go with that." I'm like, "Who told you that?" Yes. Who said, "Well, the conventional wisdom said,..." What convention? I wasn't invited to that convention. I didn't tell people that that's what I liked. Really, I love the opportunity to play,because If you can't bet on yourself then who can you bet on? Who can you count on? And that's something that I really appreciate about what you are doing in so far as taking what you want. Taking the colors you love, taking the tone of colors that you love, and doing whatever you feel is best for you. And also people to be just as brave and to do the same. It seems to me sometimes that with sewing, because we do have the patterns, and you want to buy this pattern or that pattern- It's not because we're trying to be uniform. It's not because we're trying to. If you take a particular pattern or blazer, for example, and you make it your own, you colorblock it. And even if we both colorblocked the same blazer, it would be incredible if they came out identical. Like it's so unlikely that they would come out identical. They wouldn't.

Right, right.

And I also love how somehow your use and engagement with color is fortifying. And by that I mean it fortifies you to be able to say, "this is what I feel this is what I like this is what is helping me get from one place to the next, from point A to point B." And once you've decided, then it doesn't matter what anybody else says.

Nefertiti Griggs 17:29

That's it. You got to have that confidence. No matter what, if you're not confident in what you makin' or what you're doing in life, not just with sewing, what you want in life, you will fail. And that project will normally fail. Sometimes you got to put that shit to the side and start on something else.

Lisa Woolfork 17:48

Right. That's right.

Nefertiti Griggs 17:50

It's like that. And as creatives that's what we go through, but you have to be confident in what it is that you're going to put on your body. And you also got to know when to throw in the towel. Okay, because they don't all work out, and I get people ask me "Oh, you don't ever have any bad makes?" I'm like, "You don't know." (crosstalk)

Lisa Woolfork 18:11

I got plenty of bad makes.

Nefertiti Griggs 18:13

I guess we all do.

Lisa Woolfork 18:15

One of my friends is a cake decorator, and her slogan is "Every cake has a back."

Nefertiti Griggs 18:21

Oh what. Wait. Hold on.

Lisa Woolfork 18:23

She's a wonderful cake designer. You look at her stuff, and you're like, "that's cake?" She's really excellent. But she's like, "Every cake has a back. There's always going to be a side that is more forward-facing, the part that you're the most proud of." And again, the flaws that she's identifying aren't flaws that I can see.

Nefertiti Griggs 18:41

That's right.

Lisa Woolfork 18:42

I don't see them. She sees them, but only she can see them. Cause she made it, right. But when you put it on the table, nobody else!

Nefertiti Griggs 18:52

They're not gonna. Who's gonna know? Nobody's gonna know.

Lisa Woolfork 18:57

Exactly. I had that exact same yesterday. I made a couple of pieces. And I was like, "Oh, Naomi has this. And I really like it, and I'm gonna try it myself." And I'm like, "Oh, I just don't know. I don't know if I like it." And then I said, "You know what? I'm deciding that I like this."

Nefertiti Griggs 19:11

I know. That's right. And I love your, while you sit here boasting and bragging about me, honey. I mean, you are amazing in your own right. First of all, did you make those shoes that you just recently shared? Because I have not-

Lisa Woolfork 19:26

The leopard sneakers? My little town Charlottesville, Virginia does not have a whole lot besides racism in my opinion.

Nefertiti Griggs 19:32

Oh, honey.

Lisa Woolfork 19:33

What we do have is direct flights to Chicago.

Nefertiti Griggs 19:36

Oh my god.

Lisa Woolfork 19:38

I took a class at the Chicago Leather and Shoemaking School, a one session class, and I went up there and took that class, and my sister was there. We hung out. It was amazing. And you would slay some shoes.

Nefertiti Griggs 19:54

Oh my Gosh.

Lisa Woolfork 19:55

They have online classes. You can get the kit for the base and you can get the leather. All of that.

Nefertiti Griggs 20:02

I'm always blown away by creatives that go from one thing like sewing to now shoes or purses or just venture out. That's why I just love the ability that we have. Because we don't see our creativity as being limitless. Like most of us are willing to learn other things within the craft. And I love that about creatives and sewers. It's so amazing.

Lisa Woolfork 20:30

I do too. I love it. I'm of the opinion, honestly, that anybody can make anything.

Nefertiti Griggs 20:36

I agree.

Lisa Woolfork 20:36

I mean, everything we have was made by somebody already. None of this came down from an alien spaceship. None of it came fully formed from the earth. These are all things that human beings have sat down either with their hands or with machines, or with tools or whatever, and made.

Nefertiti Griggs 21:01

For us with less tools, and less machines, and less skill. And they made it happen.

Lisa Woolfork 21:08

They absolutely did. I was flipping through a sewing magazine, and one of the machines have Wi Fi. And I was like, "Lisa, no." I've already decided my next machine is going to be a semi-industrial machine. Not fro any of the big brands. But I'm going to buy it from a brand that specializes in making sailboat sails.

Nefertiti Griggs 21:32

Shut up. I love it. I love it. I love it. I'm so happy that you brought that up. Because I don't have much experience using industrial machines, and a lot of sewers nowadays don't because it's so easy to go by a (unclear) for $100 Or even Facebook marketplace (unclear). But my mom. Oh, I can't talk about her enough. She has. I don't even know how many machines she has. I think she hasn't even counted herself. But she has a (unclear) industrial machines. And I'm like, "Mom, you can just pass me one."

Lisa Woolfork 22:05

Let's have a blind hemmer.

Nefertiti Griggs 22:07

Everything. She has the blind hemmer, industrial machine cover stitch. She even bought something more recent, the Brother Luminaire. And I was like, "What are you gonna do with that?" She's "I'm gonna use it for embroidery." And I'm like, "Okay, Mommy. You have everything that you could need." But I say all that to say that not enough of us know how to use just basic stuff like industrial machines.

Lisa Woolfork 22:29

And, that's all it does is sew forward and backwards.

Nefertiti Griggs 22:32

That's it.

Lisa Woolfork 22:35

Very, very fast.

Nefertiti Griggs 22:37

And it will sew those thick fabrics too.

Lisa Woolfork 22:39

That's why I'm interested in industrial, because I do have a machine. I bought it. I enjoy it. It was expensive. I'm not going to be getting another one anytime soon.

Nefertiti Griggs 22:48

I hear you.

Lisa Woolfork 22:49

But if someone says, "Go put four layers of leather underneath that presser foot and go sew something," it won't do it. It won't do it. Not well, I'm like, "I'm not tearing up my good machine. Let me get one that was made for it." So that was my thinking.

Hey, friends, hey. What are you doing on Thursday around 3pm or so? You got 30 minutes to hang out with Black Woman Stitch? You got 60? If so come through for Thirty Minute Thursdays, Thursdays 3pm Eastern Standard Time. You can chill with Black Women Stitch on Instagram Live or talk with us through the two way audio on Clubhouse at 3:30pm Eastern Standard Time. That's Thursdays for 30 minutes. Come hang out, chill and have fun with us. See you Thursday.

I love that. I love that. I hope that you can work that out. Yes, they're a really good investment. If I had the space for it, I would have a couple of my mom's machines in here. Yeah,

Yeah, I think one of the things I love about your sewing is that you are also incredibly adventurous. And you're also really inspiring. Did I see you did, you do some shirring? Did you do a shirred blouse or shared bodice?

Nefertiti Griggs 24:07

It was a shirred dress. That was my first time shirring too.

Lisa Woolfork 24:10

I felt like watching you was my first time shirring as well. Because I have been wanting to do a shirred, I think because every time I go to an African festival, they'll have the ankara prints out, and then they'll have a dress that's shirred at the top. It’s elasticized. It's like the width of fabric elasticized down. I'm like, "I think that's just straight line sewing. I think I can learn to do that." And every time I try, I just get so flustered or frustrated by the process. And then I was like, "Oh!" when I saw you had done it. I was like "Oh my gosh, are you serious?"

Nefertiti Griggs 24:42

Listen. You can do it. You can do it. I really don't like that the fabric- even when you go into the big box stores- the shirred fabric is so cheap, because I know the time that it took to get to that point. But I think doing it yourself is so much more rewarding. Actually once you get the hang of putting the elastic on the bobbin and figuring out the right tension, everything is good. I've talked a few people into doing it. Just just try, just try it.

Lisa Woolfork 25:18

Trust me when I say I have right now in this studio, I know I have at least 20 yards of that elastic that I could use.

Nefertiti Griggs 25:29

Look, I got it, I got a roll of it too sitting up there somewhere.

Lisa Woolfork 25:33

I am so ready. I have the stuff. I even, I have at least two bobbin cases. I bought one specialty bobbin case, because I was gonna do some kind of couching. You can put ribbon, some kind of thin ribbons also and hand wind it for your bobbin as well. Yeah, they do stitching that way. You stitch on the wrong side of the fabric, and then when you flip it over, your ribbon is stitched underneath it. I seen people do that with specialty threads and stuff. I know it is real. And I know it's possible.

I know. It is possible and you can do it. You just gotta have patience, honey, because when I tell you, patience and sewing go hand in hand.

They really do. They really do.

Nefertiti Griggs 26:17

Going away in UFO pal queen, honey. I'm not about that UFO life, okay.

Lisa Woolfork 26:26

Sometimes I'm just like, I'm in the middle of going with something. And I've either hit a stopping point, or I ran out of fabric or something terrible, whatever. And I'll set it aside, and then I'll come back to it. And I'll say, Do I like this? And it's like, "not enough to keep working on it." Lo and behold, there are people out there in the world, who will take your project and use it to finish it, use it to practice, use it to stuff into a dog bed, I don't care where it go. As long as it's out of my life. That's something I've also really appreciated too, is just to be able to say, "Hey, quitting is okay. If I don't want to do it anymore. I don't have to." And that's another thing about DIY and about building things, is that we can build things that sustain our lives in ways that are ethical and not extractive for us. There's enough stress out there in the world. We don't need to bring it and put it in our lap while we're sewing.

Nefertiti Griggs 27:28

Yes. Oh my gosh.

Lisa Woolfork 27:30

No, thank you. I want to turn and ask a bit more about some of the collaborations that you've done. And so the same style and stuff that I've picked up on it, that have drawn so many people to your work, is also something that seems to resonate with brands like spoon flour, or with it Bernina. So can you talk a little bit about what that's been like for you? Your bright, colorful style, and working with Bernina, for example, which is a long-standing sewing machine company. How has that been working with different corporations who are also interested in the creative arts?

Nefertiti Griggs 28:07

Well, first I'll touch on Spoonflower. Spoonflower really caught my eye when Katie, we know Katie Kortman, when she became an ambassador with them the year prior, and I first I purchased some of her rainbow line fabric. I didn't even, I knew Spoonflower existed, but I wasn't very heavy on them, because I was so used to go into the big box stores locally. And you know, just picking up whatever I needed. But to know that you can get whatever design or print you can think of, if I was in a designing fabric mood, I could design my own fabric and upload it to the Spoonflower site and print it out. And now I'm wearing my art just like she does with her rainbow in her other prints. So I fell in love with them then and I bought some of their sports lycra. And I made, I think it was my second swimsuit that I had ever made, a couple years back. They featured me, and I got pretty close with one of the marketing head at the time. And she was also at DC Frocktails.

Lisa Woolfork 29:18

Oh, yes, that's right. That's righ.

Nefertiti Griggs 29:19

Nicole and Teresa. And that was where everything came together. So I'm very thankful for DC Frocktails. It was just before the world ended. But we met, and everything else is history. But what I love about Spoonflower is the ability for artists to really share their creativity on either a canvas, wallpaper, fabric, gift wrap, everything. So them wanting to work with me on other projects like Black Magic, Creative Black Magic.

Lisa Woolfork 29:33

Yes. Was that something that you came up with? Or did they bring that to you or did you all put that together

Nefertiti Griggs 30:01

So they came to me. And this was before I became an ambassador with them. They came to me and they basically introduced J.Clapp and I, also known as Vivica C. Coxx. That's his drag persona. They said, "Well, could you make a gown or something for Vivica?"

Lisa Woolfork 30:02

Yes. Yes. So much fun to watch.

Nefertiti Griggs 30:07

I said, "Okay, let's throw some- not throw something together, but let's get it started." It was during the pandemic, which was challenging also. But we made everything work. And we did, I did come up with the title of the dress, which was Black Magic.

Lisa Woolfork 30:40

Yes.

Nefertiti Griggs 30:41

If anyone caught those videos and how that played out why I titled it Black Magic. It was so amazing to work with them on their project, they've always been a really inclusive brand. They are not the type of brand that we were all fighting for when everything got real. And I've been very thankful to work with them.

Lisa Woolfork 31:05

Oh, good. I'm glad.

Nefertiti Griggs 31:09

I really do love that my creativity can really shine through the different artists that they have in the prints and the way that you can scale something to be smaller or larger. You just have more freedom with your creativity, and it gets closer to that one-of-a-kind versus everybody goes to a big box store and buys that same fabric that you got, and they may make the same thing that you make.

Lisa Woolfork 31:33

Exactly. No, that is such an excellent point. And also about connecting artists to people who would appreciate their work. And that's and I think, and also extending the ability for them to reach people. I think that's excellent. I think that's so excellent. This is so wonderful. I mean, my thing is that they're lucky to have you. That's my thing. They are lucky. You know, there's only one you, and there's only one person doing what you do. And so I think that is a great benefit to that organization. Absolutely. And now you've got all these great sewing machines. So you've been sewing and then Bernina says, "Hello, we want you to make some wonderful magic for us as well."

Nefertiti Griggs 32:16

Yes. I'll tell you a little story. So after that Brother machine that my mom got me, I realized that I really wanted to continue sewing. And my husband also has a business where he does t-shirts and vinyl, different designs. I was like, "okay." He said, "You got to invest in yourself. And if this is something that you want to do, get you another machine." I started off with a Brother machine in 2012. I think it was about two or three years after that I got my first Bernina. My husband helped me get that one, because you know the machine is not cheap, honey.

Lisa Woolfork 32:54

They are not at all.

Nefertiti Griggs 32:58

And he said "If you serious, I will get this for you, because it is an investment." I started off with the 560. And then a couple years ago, I got an 880. So I fell in love with them because when you sew on a Bernina versus other machines- I'm not dogging any other brand and I'm not just saying because I'm an ambassador- but I feel like the smoothness and the stitches, the stitch quality is on another level. Like I said, I hadn't experienced many as an adult, but through my childhood, my mom had Juki. She had Janome. She had all these brands, but I don't remember any of that.

Lisa Woolfork 33:39

Because she had you in the corner turning (unclear) scraps with a (unclear).

Nefertiti Griggs 33:44

Cutting out patterns.

Lisa Woolfork 33:46

Patterns. You didn't get to sit at the good machines and sew nothing.

Nefertiti Griggs 33:49

No, I didn't. I didn't. So that was my experience. And it took me a minute to decide, okay, once you invest in a brand, and you start purchasing the accessories then you're like, "ALright, this is all."

Lisa Woolfork 34:02

You get locked in.

Nefertiti Griggs 34:03

Yeah, so I got lucky. And they noticed that. I've been a Bernina customer for quite some time. That made it easier for them to say, "Hey, we want to work with you," and I love it.

Lisa Woolfork 34:16

That's a wonderful example of a company recognizing the work that you're already doing, and seeing how already you're bringing value to their products. You are communicating with audiences,in my opinion, I don't think they've reached before, nor have they tried.

Nefertiti Griggs 34:33

Ooh ooh ooh. I'm gonna agree with you on that.

Lisa Woolfork 34:38

It's so true. It's true. Let me tell you, I'm not about to talk about the particular brand of sewing machine that I sew with. But I can tell you, I have spent a lot of money with this company over the years. A lot, like college tuition level of money, with these people. And so I feel like they should absolutely be reaching out to me. (crosstalk) Not not because I'm interested, but as a courtesy to say, "Hey."

Nefertiti Griggs 35:04

I'm vested. I should have stock in this company at this point.

Lisa Woolfork 35:07

Essentially, yes, essentially. Yes, exactly, exactly. So I really love that that relationship blossomed organically, by being able to see and appreciate what you were doing and then a bond kind of gets formed. One thing I was also excited about is, speaking about the work that you've been doing in the sewing community, the work that your cover photo for Sewn magazine. We're recording this now in December, everybody 2021. But the episode's gonna come out in 2022. So this will be looking back at, I believe, this will be the October or November issue of the Sewn magazine for 2021. And you've got this great, is it a bra, is it a bustier, is it a long line bra? I mean, I know it's stunning, but I'm just trying to remember the image. You got a blazer on or jacket and the bra and then the sunglasses and it's just like "Whaaa!" What was that? What was that like?

Nefertiti Griggs 35:34

So first, let me just shout out Nikki, because she got all of us together. I'm trying to think of her Instagram handle off the top of my head.

Lisa Woolfork 36:18

Sewingmystyle

Nefertiti Griggs 36:17

Sewingmystyle, Nikki, we all know (crosstalk)

Lisa Woolfork 36:19

She's Nikki Griffith, @sewingmystyle. She does a lot of work with bras. She's got the bra top boutique. She teaches a lot of bra making classes, and she also is over @atlantasewingstyle.

Nefertiti Griggs 36:30

That's one of her projects. (unclear) She got us all together. And she reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do the bra collaboration for Sewn, and I was thinking about and I was like, "I don't know if I got time, honey." But I really thought about it, and I was like, "You know what, I haven't actually made a bra before. I've made bustiers, and I've added the boning in dresses and things like that. But I had never used an actual underwire. And you work with the channeling and things like that. So I was intrigued. And just like I was telling you earlier before we started that, if the bar is not set high, I don't really want to do it, honey. Some people are cool staying with what they are good at, but I want to challenge myself so that I can say "I stepped outside of my little box, and I created something that either worked or didn't work, but at least I know that I tried." So I wanted to make the bras, and I decided I was going to play around with it. And Nikki kind of put everybody on the path that we needed to be on with all the tutorials. She really helped me get to that point in that photo because there were other bras that didn't make it- not many, but it was very fun. I really enjoyed that. That was the second bra that I made. So it was amazing.

Lisa Woolfor 37:12

I love how the second bra you made landed you on the cover of a magazine

Nefertiti Griggs 38:03

Because you got to do a muslin, honey. I don't know either but it happened. I'm so excited for it.

Lisa Woolfork 38:08

I couldn't put the first one on because that was just the draft. So was the second one.

Nefertiti Griggs 38:13

I love it. I just love it. All of that credit goes to Nikki, because she helped me. When you get the measurements right with bra making, it's so easy, Lisa.

Lisa Woolfork 38:24

It is.

Nefertiti Griggs 38:25

It's not like sewing up a dress where you have 25 different steps.

Lisa Woolfork 38:29

No, it's so true.

Nefertiti Griggs 38:31

You're working with less fabric. You can pull out scraps. Like who doesn't love some scraps, honey, that turn into magic.

And like for me, I do a lot of sewing with cotton lycra. And all of that cotton lycra stuff is great for panties. Just a little scrap is great. And then the other little scraps, if you have a bra that has a two part cup, or a four part cup, you can do different. Yeah, it's really cute. (crosstalk)

Oh my gosh, I know some people were like, "Hey, I'm just gonna continue to buy my bras but honestly, I feel like if you're in a creative mood, at least try it. It is something that I didn't know I had in me and that I would love.

Lisa Woolfork 39:13

It's so true that with bra sewing too, it's not like it's complicated. You don't need a serger. You don't need to overlock. It's just pretty much zigzag stitching essentially. That is pretty much it. And so you don't even have to have a fancy machine to do it. If your machine can zigzag, you can make bras. It's just so cool. I really love that, the engineering of it, the whole of it. It's just such a cool thing to do. I enjoy it so much. And yours were so gorgeous.

Nefertiti Griggs 39:39

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 39:40

Before we wrap up, I have got to ask you about Humble. I got to ask you about where this came from, how this started. And if y'all aren't familiar with this, I don't know what rock you've been under Instagram, because it's this beautiful, bold, colorful, wonderful and I've seen them on so many different people. I think Julian has one, of Julian Sews. He has one, like so many people have, and it's just amazing. So tell us about how, like where that came from, where that idea came from and how you got started there.

Nefertiti Griggs 40:14

And I guess I'll share as much as possible. So I've started sewing apparel. I think it was maybe 2014 or 15, and that was a sweatshirt line that I had out before Humble. My main goal with products that I can offer and that I want to share with the world, is that I want them to be unisex. I don't want to limit it to just women or men, you know. And I also like doing custom orders, but it's not something that I love. So I was like, what can I offer to people that is near to me? And so I started with STOLEN, and then I rereleased it in 2019 or 2020. I'm trying to remember. And I decided that I like working with sweatshirts. So Humble kind of came about because it's a song that stuck in my head since it came out with Kendrick Lamar. And I love that song. It's one of the theme songs to the release that I had November. That stuck with me. And I always remind myself that I need to humble myself. Doesn't mean that I need to be meek and quiet., but that I need to humble myself. And even though I wear all these bright colors, and so you will see me when I walk in a room, you're not gonna hear me. And that's where Humble comes in. That you don't have to be the loudest person in the room, because your energy and your spirit is going to speak for you. Humble is just like I said, it's a word that's always stuck with me. A little more of a backstory, and I haven't talked about this before, so I'm trying not to get too emotional. I was in a car accident when I was 19 in the mail truck. I worked for post office, okay. And I had perfect teeth. Okay, my, my teeth didn't have any issues. I never needed braces or anything like that. And I lost my two front teeth. And in that moment, I was 19, who's not vain and just, "Oh, my God, my teeth and I'm not..."

Lisa Woolfork 42:29

Yes, yes.

Nefertiti Griggs 42:31

So I went through a lot of reconstructive surgery, trying to build my gums back up so that I could get implants and things like that for my teeth. Obviously, my job covered all of that. But it was a long process. And I really had to humble myself. Because in that, with me having that accident- and this is also a part of my story- I was working two jobs. I was 19. I was working two part-time jobs. And I was going to school full time. So I got called in to go to my second job at the time, which was the post office part time and they said we need you to work a route. And I was like "okay." I really didn't want to. I didn't want to go in that day because it was my off day. But I also had to work at my second job after I got off work. Now this is where it gets good, Lisa, because I don't know what you've heard. That second job that I worked was at Krystal. It is fast food restaurant. I didn't even need to do that. And it was my second week there. If I had not have gotten into that accident in that mail truck, that same night, I would have died in that Krystals. And I'm going to tell you.

Lisa Woolfork 43:48

Oh my gosh.

Nefertiti Griggs 43:48

There was a domestic situation that happened. And my manager, supervisor at the Krystals had a domestic dispute with her baby's daddy.

Lisa Woolfork 43:58

Oh gosh.

Nefertiti Griggs 43:59

Came in and shot up the entire Krystals and killed himself on that day. And while I was sitting in the hospital from a car accident, I could have been dead.

Lisa Woolfork 44:10

Wow. Wow.

Nefertiti Griggs 44:13

In that moment me worrying about, I had to remind myself "hey, you could have been dead." I really needed to like humble myself and just any little "Oh you're not pretty," or "people are going to talk about you if you're 19 and you have a bridge," and "you look weird compared to everybody else." I was just thankful to be alive.

Lisa Woolfork 44:33

Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Nefertiti Griggs 44:35

I tell a lot of people that because you really need to take life seriously and appreciate every day. So that's why I'm most of the time very bubbly and just happy, because I'm really just thankful to be here right now. I obviously have a purpose. And that, that's how I move. I want people to be just as bright on the inside as they are on the outside. That's were all of the color and everything comes from with me.

Lisa Woolfork 45:03

I am. So I thank you so much for sharing that story with us. I'm grateful to you for sharing that. So vulnerably. And so transparently, thank you for that. Because it really is sometimes. I mean, that. To take a pause when we pause. And we what, that's what I get from humble I get, I get this notion of pause. Not “stop”. Not “go dig yourself down in a hole.” Not “humiliate”, not humiliate yourself or be humiliated by anyone else, but just pause and assess. And I think that sometimes that gives us so much information like that things are not as- I remember, someone saying, like, "Well, how are you?" "Well, I'm grateful to God that things are not worse than they are." Something like that, to just be able to say, "Hey, where I am right now is not great. But I also know that there are people who would be glad to be where I am."

Nefertiti Griggs 46:03

That's right.

Lisa Woolfork 46:04

And so I think that reminder is essential. And it's not comparison. It's not about that at all. It's about an invitation to reflect. That's what I see in kind of what looks to me like a big flouting of humble. (crosstalk, unclear)

Nefertiti Griggs 46:31

Yes, on purpose. Now, obviously, I'm the corny rainbow, so I have to throw some rainbow in there any chance that I can. And that's where the gradient colors come from. So yeah, I need to say it, and I want you to see it. But then let's also be humble.

Lisa Woolfork 46:51

I just love it. I love it. Well, Nef, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I am so grateful. It's been such a joy to see your brightness, your inner light, your outer light, just all of it. And so I'm thankful to you for being here with us today. And I'm hoping we can have an opportunity at some point to talk again. But we absolutely could. We didn't even talk about the next season of your show, you and Raven's show. I'm looking forward to that whenever that hiatus has been sufficient for you. And for you all to get yourselves in a position to return the joy you have given to the community already. You really are a light. And I'm grateful for you. So I thank you.

Nefertiti Griggs 47:34

Listen, we are grateful for you too. I love what you're doing with Black Women Stitch. You are setting the tone. And you are really showing the youngsters- I ain't far behind you- but I'm just saying, I do look up to you.

Lisa Woolfork 47:49

Oh gosh.

Nefertiti Griggs 47:50

I thank you for what you're doing in our community as well.

Lisa Woolfork 47:53

Oh, wow. Thank you so much. Wow, that's so nice. All right. You're amazing. Thank you.

Nefertiti Griggs 48:00

You are amazing.

Lisa Woolfork 48:04

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N. You can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them, so I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews but for those who do for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments. If you could share those comments and say nice things about us at the Stitch Please podcast that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. 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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