Nashville Native, Chloe Hall returned to Nashville after college like so many graduates with goals, hopes and dreams for her future. Little did she know that the experiences and challenges that she would face would lead her to the creation of a clothing startup that promotes social and political change. TrashyFem is a startup clothing line designing shirts that are conversation starters that create a catalyst for positive interaction and education.
Rachel: Tell about yourself.
Chloe: Photography and music have always been my passion. Growing up my dad was super into photography and something we shared an interest in. My mom sang and played piano, so of course I took piano lessons and always wanted to be able to sing like her.
My ultimate goal is to be a musician professionally as well as a wartime photo journalist. Right now, it’s just a hobby. I play guitar, piano, sing, and write. I have played some gigs here and there, mostly for friends, but I haven’t established myself as an artist, yet.
After graduation, I returned to Nashville and started photographing musicians and concerts. I also worked for a music blog so I could stay involved in the music scene.
Eventually, I got to a point where nothing I did was making me happy. I wasn’t working on my music, my photography or my writing. I was kind of sitting on my ass and not doing anything with my life.
R: What made you come up with the idea for TrashyFem in the first place?
C: All the stuff that was happening in the world – including the election.
I had never really been into politics. I was one of those people during the Primaries that ran away from social media unless it was to look at cute animals. I had a lot of people telling me that that was not okay. At first it made me really upset that I couldn’t hide in peace, but then I realized that it wasn’t okay. There’s a time and place for that, but now wasn’t that time and place. I needed to get involved and do my part.
I started talking about a t-shirt line about a year ago. Most of it happened while I was drinking, out with friends and was initially a joke. My friends would say something, and I’d be like, ‘oh, that’d be cool on a t-shirt’ and then realized it really would be cool on a t-shirt. ‘Maybe I should actually do this.’ And TrashyFem was born.
I took my interests and my ideas for the clothing line and watched it evolve into this political / social thing. I hoped TrashyFem would pick up considering everything happening right now in our country, and it would get me back into the arts and following my passions.
The social aspect of TrashyFem began because I felt attacked on social media. Not even from engaging in conversation, but just seeing what people were posting. I felt offended by a lot of them; they were just very negative…basically, “If you aren’t involved right now, then you suck.”
I could understand where their passion was coming from. I just didn’t agree with the way that they were saying it. It didn’t make sense to me that two people, who were fighting for the same thing, were making each other feel bad about how they’re fighting for those things.
I decided that was the big push TrashyFem: social media accountability and face-to-face interactions. Each shirt has a topic on it that is meant to create dialogues and ignite passions on subject’s people want/need to talk about. My goal was to create more opportunity for face-to-face conversations by allowing the shirts to generate accountability for people’s statements and allow them to see how these words can ignite real emotions. If you are going to say something like that, at least you’re saying it to their face.
Even though TrashyFem is very much focused on face-to-face interaction, I am in no way discouraging social media interaction. It’s a fantastic way to reach large groups of people who you would not normally reach, and to discuss ideas you normally couldn’t. I am encouraging people to have accountability. Take these face-to-face conversations, and share these conversations online.
R: So what led you to settle on the name ‘TrashyFem’ for your business?
[Chloe laughs] I really wish this were way cooler than it is, but it’s not. I was scrolling through my newsfeed and someone had posted a status and hashtagged“#FeministTrash” and for some reason… that had a ring to it. My first thought was, “what if I started a clothing line called ‘Feminist Trash’?”
I told my parents and they rightly commented on the negativity it held and that my name should be more positive. So I changed it to TrashyFem.
‘Trashy’ has an impolite vibe and my line is not perfectly ‘prim and proper.” It is meant to be edgy and honest. I’m trying to promote positive interaction. Some of the shirts are controversial and I want people to feel free to be themselves even if that is a little inappropriate at times.
‘Fem’ is really open for interpretation. It is an abbreviation for ‘female,’ ‘femme,’ ‘feminist,’ or however you want to interpret. We cover all those topics: sexual harassment, emotional abuse, body image, women’s rights, gender nonconforming, talking politics on social media, societal norms on dating, and being a total badass. I wanted the name to encompass all those things.
R: You are using Kickstarter to launch TrashyFem. How much progress has been made?
C: Five days after launching the Kickstarter campaign we reached our goal. Which is awesome, but it was a goal to just get the company launched and we are still pushing for more support.
For me, I always find it very hard to donate money. I’m broke and I have bills to pay, and it’s hard for me to just give money to a Kickstarter even, let alone a charity. This way, you’re getting a shirt, and everyone loves new clothes. TrashyFem is trendy and fashionable. They’re conversation starters. You’re donating your money and don’t even have to think about it, and it’s not like they’re 50 dollar shirts. They are $25 each and right now since I am still in the startup phase, my Kickstarter is full of fantastic specials.
While I have been doing most of the work myself, I have partnered with Erin Borzak and Sydney Baldwin of Perigree Press. They are local Nashville business and are the official screen-printing company for TrashyFem and are hand-printing each shirt. Erin Borzak is a longtime friend of mine and is also an illustration artist; she illustrated the ‘I Call the Shots shirt. What they do is very awesome, and since they’d already been through the entire Kickstarter progress with Perigree Press they were beyond helpful and full of business advice.
R: How will TrashyFem implement positive change and communication?
C: For every generation, but specifically mine, communication is really big right now. People are becoming very passionate about discussing politics and social issues, much more than they ever have been in my lifetime. These shirts are a catalyst that creates a gateway for interaction.
It makes me feel good, and I would hope it makes others feel good, because once officially launched, TrashyFem will be donating a portion of the profits to the Trust For Public Lands. Also, certain featured shirts funds will be donated to an organization that fits that topic; for example, the animal rights shirt’s portion will go to an animal rights organization.
BUT, with each purchase you’re making a difference! Just by buying a shirt, you’re making a difference in so many different ways. I see a lot of room for growth, and I see it being very helpful to create positive change, especially in our generation.
R: Let’s talk about the designs and the dialogues they have ignited?
C: During the making of my TrashyFem promo video, the models all came from different backgrounds and experiences and were asked to pick a shirt that they could relate to, wear it during my photo shoot and then afterwards share with the group why they chose that shirt and to push the idea: ‘let’s talk about it because this isn’t talked about enough and we need to be discussing it more.’
I’ll start with ‘I’m Here For the Music’ since we’re here talking for Nashville Music Guide.
The music design idea came from my Facebook feed. My friends are big in the local Nashville music scene and some of my female friends have experienced harassment at shows.
Darby Wilson wore the “I’m Here For The Music” shirt in the TrashyFem promo video is very much involved in the music scene. She talked about how at shows with mosh pits, being a woman means your chances of getting groped are high. Of course it gets very physical. People will accidentally graze you, but there’s a difference between an accident and grabbing your butt. She discussed how often it happens, ‘it’s super uncomfortable because you’re just there for the music, you’re not there to get hit on. If you want to get hit on you go to a bar or make a point to mingle at a house show, you know?’
Another that really represents TrashyFem is “Church is Your Temple, My Body is Mine.”
Originally, I wanted to create a pro-choice shirt, but it being one of the more controversial topics of my brand, I didn’t want to create anything that would rub people the wrong way or prevent them from exploring other topics covered by TrashyFem.
I created a shirt that could bring up the topic without directly addressing it or make someone feel attacked, the shirts allows the person wearing it to bring up the topic on their own. Turns out that it had more meaning than I ever could have imagined…
Mary Louise Meadors wore “Church is Your Temple, My Body is Mine” for the TrashyFem promo video talked about having tattoos, and how her body was her temple and how if she had tattoos nobody else had the right to say anything about it.
It was awesome. She saw the shirt as discussing body modifications, which was not my initial purpose, but proves that whatever meaning the wearer feels is most important is what they’re going to find in the messages that are being created by TrashyFem.
R: What future issues are you thinking about bringing into your designs?
C: I have so many… well, I can give you an exclusive.
There are three new issues we’re going to be covering that aren’t released yet. The designs are going to address sexual abuse towards men, animal rights, and political social media negativity.
R: Are you planning on implementing strong political statements in your design or are you planning on staying more neutral?
C: I plan on testing the waters, but eventually would like to open the doors for other controversial and note-worthy topics.
R: And kind of leading off of that, considering the prevalence of it in the media right now, are you going to be covering the topic of protesting?
C: Oh, absolutely. I’m all about it.
It is a starting point for getting involved. I would love for people to wear my shirts at protests and rallies, but only if they do so in a positive, loving, healthy manner. Take pictures and share them… maybe get an Instagram started so we can put them up and spread positive, educational messages. I don’t want anyone hating and wearing my shirt; these shirts were created to curb all the negativity in the first place!
I also would like to hold monthly TrashyFem group sessions, where we discuss topics pertaining to the shirts. I’m definitely going to have a blog on my website, where I’ll discuss shirt topics, but also just random stuff that’s going on in the world. I’m sure that will open a lot of doors for a lot more dialogue about the shirts and the topics they are portraying.
R: Are you planning on staying local and home operated, or in the future is it going to be more of a widespread thing?
C: Hell yeah! I definitely want to travel with it and with my online presence, anyone can buy anywhere in the world.
I would love to find some local boutiques, flea markets and stuff, but I definitely want to expand. I’m going to St. Louis in March and I definitely want to get the conversation started there.
ABOUT CHLOE HALL:
Chloe graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a Bachelor degree in Media Communications and a minor in Photography. After graduation, Chloe moved back to Nashville, TN to pursue music. After a few discouraging efforts and falling into a rut, at age 23, Chloe took a crazy idea that was born amongst a brew or two with some friends and began her climb back to passion. In early 2017, she launched a Kickstarter campaign for her social and politically driven clothing line, TrashyFem. The rest of the story is waiting to be written . . .
For more information on Chloe & TrashyFem visit: www.facebook.com/TrashyFem or www.kickstarter.com/projects/1073695992/trashyfem-clothing-that-promotes-social-and-politi
Story by Rachel Smith