I am a firm believer in the power of genetics. My mother has been one of my greatest inspirations and critics. She is a seamstress and pattern-maker by trade, who immigrated to America with my father and older brother from Jamaica in the late 80s. She spent over 20 years working for major designers such as Kay Unger, Betsy Johnson and Nicole Miller.
She also owned and operated an afro-centric clothing line “Tamara Kae”, which further sealed my attachment to African prints. In the early 2000s, my mother left Fashion Ave and switched to designing home decor full time, operating a successful Etsy shop, Kirtam Home Collection, before most people knew what the online marketplace was.
As you can probably tell, I’ve spent much of my life around patterns, artwork, and crafts. In the spirit of sankofa, my mother's story has in many ways become my own. While I did not inherit my mother’s master sewing and pattern-making skills, I did inherit a fascination for vibrant colors, patterns, symbology, and making something out of nothing.
As a teenager I spent most of my summers in Jamaica, where I quickly learned the importance of African history through the teachings of Marcus Garvey and Rastafari. Subsequently, I came to learn that many of the symbols in the ironwork and masonry in homes across the island were adinkra symbols. In an attempt to reconnect to my African roots, I began to question my own existence, with the help of Adinkra symbols and African existential style.
As a young adult attending Howard University I began to hand paint t-shirts in my dorm room I was an African Studies major just trying to figure life out when my mother gave me a small collection of Adinkra stamps that were made in Ghana. I began to incorporate the traditional technique of adinkra block printing into my work. This is when Tribal Immunity was truly born.
I have since transferred my talents to block printing and painting bold and colorful handbags, as well as designing bold prints for textiles, home decor and collectible prints. I have also worked on finding effective ways to maintain a small business.
At times I let fear keep me from doing what I love, but as I matured, honed in on my craft and created balance between my art and life, success has gotten closer and clearer. One thing my mother has told me throughout my life is to never say “I can’t”. So when being an educator, mother, wife, and artist seems to be too much, I am always finding new ways to work effectively and efficiently.