“Woman,” “feminist,” “lesbian,” and “boss bitch” are just a few of the terms owner and artist of Mude Threads, Jasmine “Jazz” Moodie, uses to describe herself. Over the past year, Jazz, along with her girlfriend, Elle Upshall, have created a clothing line using beautiful designs that champion body positivity. The result is a diverse collection that features everything from sweatshirts to stickers, all of which proudly displays the nude female form by way of line drawings that are hand-stitched by Jazz onto the apparel.
The latest addition to the Mude Threads family comes in the form of cheeky tote bags designed by Jazz and painted by fellow artist, Pearl Vernon-Howe. On the eve of the launch of their new tote bags, I reached out to Jazz to chat about the new line, which inevitably led to a discussion on feminism, art, and entrepreneurship.
Buppie dit Bonsoir: So how did this collaboration come to be?
Jazz Moodie: The feminist fate stars were aligned when a mutual friend mentioned Pearl’s work to me – we have both found inspiration and creativity in representing the female form, and when I saw Pearl’s colorful work I knew I had to get a pop of fruitiness into my nude designs! That’s when we decided to join forces – we both found it absolutely essential to know we were both on the same page with what these totes were doing…celebrating the female form in the face of society’s sexualization and censorship of women’s bodies.
BDB: Let’s talk more about the new totes. What prints are available and what’s the inspiration behind the images presented on each bag?
JM: The new tote design is a seamless merging of our talents – I have designed a line drawing of three nude women, in various positions (think: naked sassy girl gang). My design features subtle nods to the beautiful differences of every woman’s unique body – there’s little stretch marks, body rolls, big boobs and small boobs, short hair and curly hair. Pearl has then hand-painted fruit onto various parts of the women: think peaches for butt-cheeks, and kiwis for boobs!
We decided to play around with the hypocritical concept of censoring women’s bodies, by replacing the notoriously offensive female nipple with fruit, and covering the women’s crotches with unruly grape vines. We want to challenge society’s view of the female body by highlighting how fundamentally ridiculous it is to be offended by a breast and nipple, yet to be perfectly fine when that breast and nipple is “covered” with a fruit design with a remarkably similar shape, structure and anatomy.
The female body and anatomy has historically been likened to metaphors of fruits, so it felt natural to represent our sassy girl gang with playful bouquets of juicy, sweet, and fleshy fruits covering their “offensive” bits.
BDB: When did you first begin dabbling in the arts and what made you decide to pursue a career as an artist?
JM: I have always been brought up around art – my grandfather was a sculptor and my Dad is a talented painter, photographer, and everything in between! Art has always been my release when I need to refocus or let my emotions over-spill. I’ve been lucky enough to find a way to combine my passionate fire for feminism and my love of art!
BDB: What made you want to start your business?
JM: I study management with marketing at University, so my day-to-day life is centered around business. Yet, this isn’t what inspired me. In fact, I would say that my business-focused degree pushed me away from professionalism and entrepreneurship, and it was my art that coincidentally turned into a “business”. Being my own boss is so liberating, but Mude Threads feels like so much more than a “business”…it’s a revolution!
BDB: Why have you chosen to focus on the nude female form for your line?
JM: Mude Threads’s battle is against censorship of womens’ natural, nuanced, fleshy bodies – I use myself and other brave women as reference for my drawings, so the designs are a process of reconnecting with our bodies. I have been hyper-sexualized, without my consent, my whole life due to my petite frame and unusually large breasts, so artistically representing the female form (in every shape and size) is my way of sticking two fingers up to the society that is adamant to control how our bodies are perceived.
BDB: How did you come to the decision to sell apparel and accessories in lieu of celebrating the female form in other ways?
JM: As soon as I posted my first ever hand-embroidered nude design on Instagram, I had messages of support followed by messages like, “how do I get one?!” It happened very naturally since there was a real demand among women to see their bodies represented as empowering art.
BDB: What does women’s empowerment look like to you?
JM: Women’s empowerment looks like a ubiquitous acceptance of our unique bodies. The female form is used to control so many aspects of society, from advertising to men to making women feel inadequate and, therefore, subordinate. If we can rise above the narrow box that society has given us, our bodies can be much more than a sexualized symbol for the male gaze – we can reclaim control and show that we understand the power of our bodies, we understand and we will use that power. That’s the future for Mude…creating that world!
BDB: What does the process of creating one of your pieces look like?
JM: The Nude Commission process is a collaboration between myself (the artist) and the “customer”. I receive an unapologetic, relaxed nude – the best ones are from women who have taken the photo for themselves, as they allow every curve, crevice, and body roll to be free! It’s beautiful. I sketch the nude photo and transform the woman into a collection of curves and lines, in the form of a simple line drawing. This then forms the blueprints for the hand-embroidered design. I re-sketch the design onto the fabric using a soluble pen. Then I use my hand-held Kantan Needle to follow every element of the design. The final product is a delicate line version of the woman, stitched lovingly onto an item of clothing. The final element of the process is when the woman wears her piece – there’s no other feeling quite like proudly displaying your nude form on your chest for the world to see!
BDB: What’s your favorite part of building your business?
JM: I love the interactions I have with “customers” – it always feels like more of a friendship rather than business transaction when we are creating something so intimate and personal. I’ve met so many vibrant women through my business, and have helped so many women who have been challenging themselves to love themselves finally. It’s inspiring knowing that there’s a growing movement of women who are choosing to love every part of themselves even when society says they shouldn’t!
BDB: What’s the most challenging part of building your business?
JM: The nature of my business is often deemed “too explicit”, which makes reach new customers and spreading awareness very difficult. Instagram recently deactivated my original business account along with hundreds of product photos and thousands of followers and supporters, as it had been deemed “too sexually explicit”. The irresponsibility of Instagram culling a small independent business with no warning is sickening, but worse yet was their decision to label my artwork as “explicit”. I rely solely on word of mouth, which is quite limiting as a start-up trying to create a revolution!
BDB: What impact are you hoping your apparel will have on your buyers?
JM: I hope they feel how I felt that first time I wore my very own hastily embroidered nude on a sweater. I felt powerful, dominant and in-control! Wearing an artistic inter
pretation of a woman’s body is liberating – it feels as if the expected submissive female nature that we are expected to conform to is stripped away to reveal an unapologetic woman. The nudity represented on my pieces is a direct way of making people question why they are afraid of an empowered nude female form. An empowered naked body is a rarity in our media, especially in pornography. When wearing a Mude Threads design I really hope that people feel like they are sparking conversations about what the female body is here for…because it certainly isn’t here to be a sexual object!
BDB: What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
JM: Be yourself and work your ass off.
The new Mude Threads tote bags are now available for purchase! Head over to Mude Threads and cop one using the coupon code MUDE10 for 10% off your purchase. Together, let’s continue supporting women entrepreneurs who are doing amazing work!