Ashley Padmore and Whitney Washington of We Are Tight Knit, and Ian Vool are among the many Memphians who are customizing Memphis merch to help folks show off their city pride.
We Tight Knit
“Chain stitch embroidery is a very niche form of artistry and fashion design,” Washington said. “When I met Ashley and another coworker who was a Black woman, it was just really rare for me to see that [in the biz]. I think that pushed me to want to make it my career so that we do have representation in this industry—so people can see us and, you know, respect that.”
Padmore and Washington, two designers who met while working at Nordstrom, recently decided to venture into the world of entrepreneurship—creating We Tight Knit, a custom, chain-stitch embroidery business that allows room for client collaboration to personalize and design clothing. What makes their business so unique is that they are the only custom chain stitch embroidery business here in Memphis. Pretty cool, right?
Ashley, who is originally from Coney Island in Brooklyn, knew early on that she had a talent for art. She began sewing at a young age, continuing in her father’s footsteps with designing and embroidery.
“I feel really thankful to have this opportunity and this skill set that I didn’t choose. It kinda chose me,” she said.
Whitney, on the other hand, is a native Memphian, and has a background in graphic design from her studies at University of Tennessee Knoxville and ” mostly Youtube” (like a true millennial).
The duo has customized many pieces, including jean jackets, denim shorts, aprons, bandanas, and more. They also work with local, small businesses, acting as a collaborative liaison for specialized promos.
“The design process is very similar to when you get a tattoo,” Ashley stated.
The duo explained that they, along with their clients, have their own individual ideas and aesthetics. From placement and color to size and overall message, they work side-by-side to create a masterpiece—a personalized keepsake that’s made with intention.
“I just want to be the best artist that I can be, so that being Black isn’t what people would appreciate,” Whitney said. “I embrace being a black woman artist, but I want my art to speak for itself.”
The lack of diversity within the industry motivates the duo to continue pursuing their passion, and breaking barriers for themselves and others. Let’s help them keep pushing to fulfill their dreams!
James Brown, who goes by the stage name Ian Vool, is a local upcoming designer who is doing his part to put Memphis on the map. He specializes in designing and creating merchandise that showcases his love for our beautiful city.
Brown has been creating and designing since he was a freshman at The University of Memphis, where was initially studying Accounting, a major he realized didn’t bode well with his big picture dreams. prior to making the switch to his current major, Marketing Management and Entrepreneurship.
“Is this going to fulfill me, my purpose and my goals in life? Not necessarily,” he stated.
He eventually made the switch to Marketing Management and Entrepreneurship, and has been riding that wave ever since.
As a business owner, not only does he plan to pursue his passion, but he wants to use his talent for the betterment of his community.
“My main mission is to have cohesiveness and unity, and build strong relationships with artists. Big platform, small platform, and everything in between. Put Memphis on the map, like it should be,” he said.
Before 2021 ends, Brown hopes to have his products available for purchase at five retail locations. He plans to own his own clothing store within the next couple of years, but for now…