Mimi’s Fresh Tees touting ‘Love Over Hate’ during Black History Month

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Black business owner inspired by community support after receiving hate mail

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Black-owned t-shirt company is spreading a message of “Love Over Hate” that’s on display in Portland’s Alberta district during Black History Month this year.

Mimi’s Fresh Tees is a social justice-themed t-shirt company, and owner Kamelah Adams started a campaign called “Love Over Hate” that’s currently on display at the community organization Alberta Main Street in Northeast Portland. She said the message is one of support for victims of hate.

Kamelah Adams, owner of Mimi’s Fresh Tees, sporting one of her ‘Love Over Hate’ t-shirts. Undated photo courtesy Mimi’s Fresh Tees.

“I started ‘Love Over Hate’ after I received several hate letters last summer. It’s still an ongoing thing,” Adams said. “But the love that I received from the community just outweighs the hate that I received in the mail.”

The “Love Over Hate” t-shirts, which feature a fist inside a heart, are available on the company’s website. In addition, you can visit PDXLoveOverHate.org to receive a yard sign with the logo for a donation. Adams said she is planning to give part of the proceeds toward helping victims of hate receive the mental health therapy of their choice.

The front window display at Alberta Main Street that Mimi’s Fresh Tees has occupied for the past month has rotated other Black-owned businesses and causes in support of the Black community since June, Alberta Main Street’s Interim Director Lizzie Caston told KOIN 6 News.

“It was just empty. And we started giving it to causes that support and promote Black culture and history and commerce,” Caston said. “It’s really our gift to address some of those issues of displacement and gentrification and African American culture.”

Portland Thorns athlete Simone Charley sporting a t-shirt she made in collaboration with Mimi’s Fresh Tees. November 19, 2020 (Mimi’s Fresh Tees).

Adams, a Northeast Portland native, said she does not have a permanent physical location for her business but relies on online sales. She said she’d like to find a place to set up shop on NE Alberta Street or North Mississippi Avenue, two places with historic ties to the Black community in Portland.

“I feel it’s important for business owners who have been displaced out of historically BIPOC communities to come back to those communities,” said Adams, who has been running Mimi’s Fresh Tees since 2018.

The Alberta Main Street front window display for Mimi’s Fresh Tees is only temporary, with another organization slated to take its place in the coming weeks.

However, there will be an opportunity to peruse Mimi’s Fresh Tees in person as the company will be one of many Black-owned businesses participating in an outdoor market, called Junction Avenue, held at Self Enhancement Inc. this Saturday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held at 3920 N Kerby Ave. Portland, Ore., 97227.

The limited edition t-shirt depicting Portland’s historically Black Albina district is part of Mimi’s Fresh Tees’ social justice themed catalogue of clothes. February 23, 2021 (Mimi’s Fresh Tees).

The Albina district of inner North/Northeast Portland was once a predominately Black area of the city before many of its residents were displaced from gentrification; urban renewal projects which razed many homes; market forces; and rising housing costs. It is still considered by Adams and many others as the historic heart of the Black community in Portland to this day.

As a nod to that history, Adams came out with a t-shirt depicting Albina for Black History Month this year as part of a collaboration between Portland Gear and the Maurice Lucas Foundation. Another shirt spurred from the collaboration was a t-shirt with the name of the late Portland Trail Blazer star: Maurice “The Enforcer” Lucas. The t-shirts are a limited edition and close to selling out, Adams said, and 15% of the proceeds from those shirts going to the Maurice Lucas Foundation, which works with Portland-area youth to help them realize their potential, according to its website.

In addition, Adams also did a collaboration with the Portland Thorns last year, in which the female soccer team gave Mimi’s Fresh Tees a $25,000 grant.

“I worked closely with Simone Charley of the Thorns. And we came up with a shirt that said ‘Play Like a Girl’ and on the back it said ‘Going Against the Grain.’ Because as women in sports, Simone said they go against the grain every day,” Adams said. “They’re such an amazing team and I just love what they stand for and how they give back to the community.”

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