Deport Racists. No Time For Nazis. Don’t Colonize my spirituality. Take Andrew Jackson off the 20. These clarion calls result in heated debates on social media, in classrooms, in bars, and in workplaces, eventually yielding the hashtags that become etched into our psyches. Most end there and after a few hot topics are forgotten. To have one’s words, thoughts, truths, caught up in such a cycle is something Chloe Dewberry, the mastermind behind ODIE NOLA, fights against with each clothing piece she embroiders.
ODIE NOLA is a company, brand, and organization committed to exposing historical untruths, starting conversations, asking questions, and making statements relevant to marginalized communities and the unique experiences they face daily. Chloe coins “untruths” as personal experiences, comparing them to the narratives widely taught in schools. In many instances, the narratives of marginalized peoples don’t reflect their true history but rather a twisted, outside point of view.
In many instances, the narratives of marginalized peoples don’t reflect their true history but rather a twisted, outside point of view.
With all of the resources available to access different kinds of information, we are quick to adopt opinions and ideas from what we are presented rather than asking critical questions, having discussions, and gaining better context to form our own understandings. ODIE NOLA explores these narratives and presents them as bold statements though hand-crafted, original pieces of clothing that are meant to spark a different process of intellectual stimulation and culturally authentic consciousness.
Chloe, having studied fashion design in college, decided on custom clothing to be the medium through which she shared the untruths of others as well as her own. She wanted something sustainable that would give historical background and context to these truths–something she felt that the fashion industry still lacked. Her pieces, all thrifted, come largely from a place in Louisiana called SisterHearts thrift store owned by Maryam Uloho. SisterHearts’ foundation lies in the improvement of the lives of those who have been incarcerated, a cause that Chloe Dewberry passionately endorses. Putting words into action as she does, 30% of all ODIE profit goes to an organization called VOTE NOLA which is committed to restoring the full human and civil rights of people affected by the criminal (in)justice system.
For those who choose to support ODIE by physicalizing historical untruths, Chloe urges them to explore how they’ll define their own narrative. It is a conscious and active choice to wear an ODIE piece, as well as an opportunity to speak one’s truth. To those who make this choice open themselves up to debates, discussions, and much-expected backlash, she encourages them to do their research but also to know when to give someone the resources to do their own, and walk away.
Through her brand and her passions, Chloe demands reform, calling us to action with each item sewn and seen. The inspiration for her brand name comes from the famously poignant Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem.” By rebelling with historical untruths that ‘fester like sores’ and ‘stink like rotten meat,’ she creates messages not easily forgotten, plants seeds in her consumers’ minds, and waits for them to explode.
Visit the ODIE NOLA website to shop Chloe Dewberry’s designs.