Kim: What does your clothing line mean to you?
Senay: Madow Futur, to me, is our voice. It's our voice as Black people - as oppressed people in general. But specifically as Black people. And it is a proclamation that Black youth are the future. What happens in the world is dependent on our people and what we do. The arts are a way to galvanize and catch people's attention. It's a way to seduce people into positive ideologies. Madow Futur is a wearable proclamation that the future is Black - something that we can make beautiful.
I also grew up watching a lot of science fiction. Futuristic things are really important to me. I try to incorporate into all my work. I'm a bonafide Afro-futurist.
Kim: Where are you from?
Senay: I'm from West Oakland. I've lived other places. But I've always had a least one of my homes in West Oakland. And all of Madow Futur operations take place in my bedroom. I sell my clothes at a couple of boutiques. And I also do vending at festivals. But everything is designed here in my bedroom. I have a printshop in downtown Oakland. And there is a tailor not far from there where I take a lot of my clothes to get stitched. It's a very local business. All of my stores and manufacturing places are in a 10-block radius of each other.
Kim: What the plusses and minuses of that?
Senay: The great thing about being contained in the way that I do things is that I can be very hands-on. The photography, graphic design and overseeing printing - I'm able to touch everything. Nothing goes out without me looking at it. And my has a lot more value because of that. I like to be able to touch every aspect.
The downside is that I only have so much capacity. I'm only one person.
Kim: What has the reception been for your work?
Senay: I've had an amazing reception. I see people wearing my clothes all of the time. Even white people buy it. I'm definitely reaching people. Even when I took my clothes to Senegal, those who knew some English really connected with "Freedom or Death" piece.
And that's what it's about. My work is here to inspire. It's not here to make me money. It's not here to inflate my ego. It's to make change. It's not purely about fashion. It's something that speaks to their condition - that of the oppressed.
Kim: What is the future of your clothing brand?
Senay: I'm not quite sure. Fashion is something that's really new to me. And I don't want to limit myself with mediums. But I think my end result of this is to outfit the Black Power movement - all of these movements that are striving to liberate and empower oppressed people. I want to give it a face. I want to give it a look - something that people can connect to and see. No matter how shallow or not shallow you are, people are very influenced by the way that things look. If you want to speak to people and move people, you need to make sure that it looks in a way that properly communicates those ideals. Some of the largest movements (and evil movements) were successful because of the way that things looked. It's important to have vision. You have to sell a vision to people.